Comic Characters Fight to End Gender Violence in Africa
A private mini museum of cartoons and comics has been set up in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, by the organisers of the ongoing Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB) festival. Arguably Africa’s premier cartoon and comic art museum, and definitely Nigeria’s first ever cartoon museum, the private humour art space is projected to metamorphose into a world class institution for the promotion of contemporary communication art researches in Africa and for cultural exchanges and creative education.
The yet-to-be-launched “CAIB Cartoon Museum” is sequel to the successful opening of the 1st Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB) festival/exhibition on 23rd November, 2012, at White Space in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria. All selected cartoons by the event’s jury were collected into a temporary space at house number 4, Oghagbon Street, Evbuotubu in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, by FICDATA, a community based, art and media organization in Benin City and the main facilitators of the CAIB programme.
Expected to be formally launched and opened to the public during the second edition of the CAIB festival/contest in 2014, the cartoon museum will, among other things, strategically promote research and development in contemporary humour art and entertainment/communication industry in the context of deepening African literature and education in the African youth, global art and cultural exchanges, creative and cultural tourism, within the prism of humour. The private museum will widely collaborate with local, national regional and international stakeholders to explore how graphic literature, comics and cartoon art can provide some solutions/answers to a wide variety of development issues and concerns in favour of Africa’s sustainable development.
According to the initiator and curator, Francis Umendu Odupute, “CAIB Cartoon Museum will on behalf of the participating cartoonists/authors, perpetually preserve all the original cartoons and humour art we gleaned from the 2012 CAIB festival/contest and those from subsequent editions of the biennial, as well as other humour art collections from across Africa and overseas, in a global context. We will also focus on building mutual collaborations locally and internationally to broaden social development education, capacity building in contemporary cartooning, cultural diversity/exchanges, investments in comic books and cartoon animation industry, graphic literature and visual journalism; a lot more.”
Over 40 artists and press cartoonists from across the world participated in the pilot CAIB festival/contest in 2012. They included: Boubaya Faiz (Algeria),Arsen Gevorgyan (Armenia),Andre Mathijs (Belgium),Vitaly Bondar (Belarus),Resad Sultanovic (Bosnia),Erico Ayres (Brazil),Bing Ling (China),Hao Janpeng (China),Jia Rui Jun (China),Kui Jun (China),Munguia Francisco (Costa Rica),Stephen Mumberson (England),Enn Ehala (Estonia),Demetrios Coutarelli (Greece),Serafim Bakoulis (Greece),Panduranga Rao (India),Andrea Bersani (Italy),Mariagrazia “Gio” Quaranta (Italy),Marco D’Agostino (Italy),Gazizov Aidarbek (Kazakhstan),E.B Asukwo (Nigeria),John Otu (Nigeria),Obayuwana Collins (Nigeria),Henryk Cebulah (Poland),Zbigniew Piszczako (Poland),Mirian Avramescu (Romania),Bibishev Viacheslav (Russia),Mikhail Zlatkovsky (Russia),Thubelihle Hlela (South Africa),Juli Sanchis (Spain),Ismail Hasan (Syria),Ismail Kar (Turkey),Oguz Gurel (Turkey),Serpil Kar (Turkey),Valery Chmyriov (Ukraine),Vladimir Kazanevsky (Ukraine),Raquel Orzuj (Uruguay),Andrzej Pacult (USA),William H. Lockett (USA),Eshonkulov Makhmudjon (Uzbekistan),Zordan Daniele (Vicenza).
The non-competing participants in the CAIB festival include: Francis Umendu Odupute (Initiator/curator, Nigeria),Isioma (Nigeria),Justin Nwosu (Nigeria),Tim Aimufua (Nigeria),Valentine Omem (Nigeria),Yinka Sangotoye (Nigeria),Eric Jansen (USA).
Meanwhile, the first issue of MEWOR Comics, an African regional gender advocacy comic book series is being produced under the CAIB programme for free distribution to spread awareness (especially among youths) of the African Union Protocol (a.k.a the “AU Protocol”) on the rights of women in Africa. The comics will be mainly distributed across the African sub-region, through in-country distribution partners and stakeholders on the gender agenda in the continent, beginning from the second quarter of 2013.
It is no news that gender-based violence, injustice and stereotyping is worsening across Africa today. Unfortunately, many African males as a tradition, engage on unthinkable gender-based violence and crimes in schools and on the streets with very minimal punishments by the law enforcement agencies. The CAIB programme is helping to support the cause of women and gender equity in Africa as a priority issue for sustainable development in the continent.
The programme is bringing together talented African comic artists and writers as volunteers to collaboratively deploy cartoons and humour art as a strategic tool for public education/enlightenment and resocialisation on gender issues in Africa, in the context of spreading awareness, and graphically explaining the content and intent of, the “AU Protocol” as well as other related gender instruments like CEDAW, etc, for the welfare and development of women and girls in Africa.
The ‘Media for Women’s Rights (MEWOR)’ Comics idea was initiated in 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya, by FEMNET, and FAHAMU, as part of a three-pronged media advocacy approach to spread the awareness of the AU Protocol across the African sub-region using radio drama series, TV talk shows and Comic book Series (especially for youths). International award-winning cartoonist, Francis Umendu Odupute was detailed to lead the Cartoon Working Group across Africa. However, dearth of sufficient funding precluded the comic book series from seeing the light of day, forcing FEMNET and FAHAMU to drop the idea after the radio drama series were produced in South Africa.
However, after five years of researching and of knocking at many doors locally and internationally, FICDATA - through the ongoing CAIB programme - has taken the challenge to realize the MEWOR free comics project, “because of the positive impact it stands to make in the lives of African youths in changing the Gender counter-culture” for the sustainable development of our dear continent, Africa”, the project leader, Mr. Odupute, argued.
At least seven editions and at most twelve editions of the MEWOR comic series are expected to be produced and freely distributed across Africa, within the next few years, in the course of the Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB) festivals/contests, in cooperation with in-country distribution partners, project collaborators and logistic supporters. Donations, fundraising, and sponsorship drive is ongoing. You, too, can donate to this cause to help end gender-based violence, human rights abuses and injustice hindering Africa’s true development! To know how you can donate to this cause from anywhere in the world, visit our website: www.cartoonafricabiennial.org/meworcomics/donate/