mugabeIn a recent blog post, I talked about meeting up with Nathan Mpangala, a friend from Tanzania who I’d not seen for 10 years.  Nathan is a cartoonist and I wanted to introduce him to a graphic novelist, Niki Singleton here in NYC.  This encounter reminded me of a meaningful collaboration that Nathan and I pursued w/ Zvakwana back in 2004.  An account of that collaboration follows:

For the June 17th 2004 edition of Zvakwana News, the Zimbabwe activist group – Zvakwana – teamed up with Nathan Mpangala (aka Kjasti) the Popular Association of Cartoonists of Tanzania (PACT) who sent them electronic images to complete their socio-political commentary on the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.  The correspondence that I relayed between the two groups was as follows :

(1)    We were wondering if you could help us a bit  quickly. We’re just about to publish a newsletter and we want to draw  attention to mugabe  importing money from Zimbabweans in exile. This is  of course very  unproductive and speaks volumes about how zanu pf  has destroyed the  economy.  We were wanting mugabe’s face on that Lord Kitchener  graphic: I Want  Your Money but not You because I know you won’t vote for me. Could you do us a cartoon like that?  Thanks!  Solidarity,  Zvakwana !

(2)    Hello Zvakwana member, I sent a Mugabe caricature to you as you requested. Please add resolution at least 200 so you will get a good image. If the drawing needs corrections please don’t hesitate to contact me, I will correct. I wish you a good day. Regards, Nathan Mpangala-cartoonist

(3)    We copied you in on our thanks email to Nathan. We are so very happy and of course we like to have our supporters have creative freedom. It is also very amazing to have this sort of solidarity and assistance all effected by way of cyber communications with you (in New York) being a conduit of help. So we are elated. We will be publishing soon which is very good because we’ve been quiet for sometime after the chasings of the regime. Solidarity! Z

(4)    Greetings from us at Zvakwana We are thanking you so much for your cartoon. In fact it was published in an advert of ours in the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa on June 18. We were very pleased for this collaboration. Imagine this power of the internet linking New York, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Solidarity! Zvakwana 

PACT – Popular Association of Cartoonists of Tanzania: The new generation of Tanzanian cartoonists reaches a large audience with their daily and weekly funny and critical cartoons, which comment on Tanzanian and African “Big Men”, economy, local and global developments, women’s rights and the “war on terrorism”. Tanzania has a long tradition of comic strips being published in monthly magazines, with a distinct drawing style being developed by pioneers such as the late Philip Ndunguru in the 1980s.

Zvakwana/Sokwanele is a non-partisan, non-profit group of passionate people – volunteers and visionaries – working to keep Zimbabweans informed about breaking news, including civic campaigns and public meetings and events. We have an activist wing that engages in non-violent civic actions.