One of Kenya’s wittiest cartonists, Godfrey Mwampembwa, was kicked out of Nation for allegedly rubbing leaders the wrong way with his illustrations.
By Journalists For Justice
Renowned cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa, who satirised Kenya’s president and deputy president over their cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in his editorial cartoons, says government censorship and pressure led to his termination of contract at the Nation.
In an interview with Committe to Protect Journalists, popularly known as Gado said he had been under considerable pressure for months from representatives of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, including legal action over his cartoons and repeated phone calls to the paper’s management and himself.
“It is no secret that there were many in government who didn’t like my cartoons over the years. But we had grown used to that and the Nation thankfully consistently pushed back. Things changed in 2013 after a new government came into place and the pressure became far more intense. I have no doubt that the Nation crumbled, which is quite sad and should be seen in the broader context of efforts by those in government to control the press,” he said.
Tom Mshindi, editor-in-chief of the Nation Media Group, denied that pressure from the government led to GADO’s contract being ended. “Gado has been drawing critical and satirical cartoons for many years and Nation has continued to have him,” he said.
A July 2015 CPJ special report on conditions for the press since Kenyatta took power found that journalists in the country “are vulnerable to legal harassment, threats, or attack, while news outlets are manipulated by advertisers or politician-owners.”
In previous interviews, GADO, said his depiction of President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy William Ruto as dragging a ball and chain in every cartoon in the Nation, was reportedly discussed in board meetings at the Nation Media Group.