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Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro)

 

HIV/AIDS might not be the most obvious subject for humour, but the editorial cartoons of South African artist Jonathan Shapiro (better known as ‘Zapiro’) highlight the irrational governmental response to the epidemic in his country. His cartoons, currently published in daily newspapers in four cities in South Africa, explore themes of HIV infection and treatment, as well as racial issues, democracy, corruption, crime, and politics.

 

While reluctant to claim that his work has a tangible influence on events and attitudes in South Africa, Jonathan's biting and sometimes heart-breaking cartoons go a long way to raising awareness and compelling action in response to the AIDS crisis. The fact that he has been sued by Jacob Zuma suggests that the nation's President, at least, thinks he has the capacity to shape public opinion and that he is thus a threat. Zuma infamously admitted to taking a shower to 'protect' himself from infection after having sex with an HIV-positive woman. Jonathan then began depicting him attached to a showerhead in all of his cartoons.

 

A former anti-apartheid activist, Jonathan Shapiro received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1988 to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and has been recognized with awards from CNN, the Cartooning Rights Network (USA), the Prince Claus Fund in the Netherlands, and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Transkei.

© Paul Sendziuk 2015 

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