Nanda Soobben: If the cartoon cap fits...

As I was driving home on Friday, I heard the announcer on the radio say "Zapiro speaks out against racist cartoon". I was taken aback. I thought Zapiro would be the last one to speak out against a cartoon, whatever the merits of it!

Yes, the people in the EWN cartoon were ANC supporters, but they were of no particular race. After all, the ANC is a non-racial party aren't they?

I know many people - close friends and family of mine - who voted for the ANC and they come from across the racial divide. In that sense I couldn't see that cartoon as racist.

During our elections there was also an election taking place in India, where the ruling party was voted out of power.

The Congress Party of India has a lot of historical parallels with the ANC, including having two of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. Yet, the Congress Party was voted out of power in India because of rampant corruption - and the ANC returned to power in spite of it.

If I were a cartoonist in India, I would have thought the electorate would be fools if they didn't vote against the Congress Party, even though I didn't think the alternative was any good either because of their right-wing religious leanings.

I would also think people voting on religious grounds would be stupid, if not fanatical.

I was an anti-apartheid cartoonist in the 1980s, and unlike the mainstream cartoonists of the day, we had to call a spade a spade - as opposed to the gag cartoons that made people laugh without challenging the status quo.

I did a cartoon during the Tricameral Parliament, calling it a circus and all those who voted for it as fools. Ok, one can't really compare the ANC in a democracy with the Tricameral Parliament.

But, if you look at some of the ANC "bully boys" who were trying to shove the Info Bill down our throats and were part of the Nkandla Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee, they were well-known members of the Labour Party in the Tricameral Parliament. One of them is now in the Cabinet.

I also did anti-George Bush cartoons in the United States where I won three awards because of them. In one of these cartoons, I even suggested that Bush was "brain dead". All because American cartoonists were seen as unpatriotic for picking on Bush.

Cartoons (especially political ones) are meant to be cynical, subtly insulting and thought-provoking. A lot depends on how we as a society see cartoons. If the cap fits, can we wear it with a smile?

By the way, did anyone complain about the president when he said only the clever people complained about him and by default made everyone else who supported him as the other?

Nanda Soobben is an internationally acclaimed cartoonist who has been plying his trade for the

past 25 years. His socio-political statements, cartoons and illustrations have been printed in newspapers such as The Post, The Independent on Saturday, The Daily News and the Sunday Tribune.