The Rise of Kenyan Political Animation: Tactics of Subversion
This source preferred by Paula Callus
Authors: Callus, P.
Start date: 19 November 2014
This paper focuses upon the rise of Kenyan political animation around and following the post-election violence in 2008. It positions cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa (GADO) as a key catalytic agent who was able to draw upon tactics (de Certau, 1984) to create a more hospitable climate for political critique in the arts and popular media. His work in cartooning informed his subsequent television series The XYZ Show and encouraged his peers’ political engagement through animation (drawing upon similar devices that appear historically within cartooning, such as caricature, parody, allegory and humor). It also served as a precursor to other subversive voices within the animated moving images in Kenya.
The political animations of Kenyan artists such as Musa Ihiga, Gatumia Gatumia, Peter Mute, Allan Mwaniki, Andrew Kaggia, and the art collective Just A Band, all present evidence of a use of tactics (de Certau, 1984) that re-position their work as not simply oppositional or critical. They are not constrained by a dichotomous reductive model of ‘within’ or ‘without’ and are able to straddle both spaces. The animations presented here work as a manipulation of ‘mechanisms of discipline’ within the systems that these artefacts intend to disparage. Therefore whilst these artists play with the conventions of animation, they are all too aware of the power structures that they must work within, and any discussion of subversion must involve to a degree considerations of adaptation and compliance for the dissemination of these moving images to be effective in their critique.