• Thembo Kash
  • Jean Kamba
  • Comics
  • Discourse

The political scene in the Congo and the caricatures of Thembo Kash

Thembo Kash, one of the most prominent press cartoonists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a clear preference for political issues. He publishes drawings in several Congolese and foreign newspapers and is currently particularly active at the online newspaper “actualite.cd”, where his caricatures are published almost daily. Written by Jean Kamba.

Thembo Muhindu Kashaurie, known as Thembo Kash, was born in 1965 in Butembo, North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a comic artist who has mastered multiple techniques, allowing him to be caricaturist, commercial artist and comic festival organizer at the same time. He has long collaborated with several Congolese and foreign newspapers and currently contributes activley to the online newspaper “actualite.cd”, where his caricatures are published almost daily. He has had the good fortune of being a prolific press caricaturist for Congolese newspapers such as Le Phare, Zaire Magazine and Le Potentiel. A graduate of the Kinshasa Academy of Arts, where he earned a degree in visual communication, he has co-produced comics such as Vanity (Joker edition), Jungle urbaine (L’Harmattan), Mbote Kinshasa (Boite à Bulles), etc…

Caricature illustrating the recurring atrocities in eastern DR Congo, especially in Beni; also the passivity of the United Nations forces stationed there for twenty years. The weakness of the Congolese state is also shown.

Thembo Kash does his utmost to illustrate current news when commenting artistically on the Congolese political scene that could itself be described as caricature.

Through his expressive drawings and powerful syntheses of current events, he adds a visual and illustrative dimension to the satirical behavior of political actors that is as enjoyable as it is entertaining.

His deft artistic moves illuminate rather than overlook the grotesque dimensions of the political scene through creative depictions of real-life scenes and narratives. And often the laughter gets stuck in the throat with this gallows humor. His drawings also arouse sadness; especially when it comes to the bloodbaths in the east of the country.

Finally, they provoke gnashing of teeth on the part of the people depicted and quoted, because accused and portrayed here in a way that borders on mockery and denial of who they are and what they do – in particular, their great contribution to the destruction of the country through financial mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, as well as patronage and complicity with the enemy to plunder the country’s wealth in all areas.

This caricature illustrates the intervention of French journalist Sonya Roley as an informant during the trial of the murders of two United Nations experts, Zeida Catalan and Michael Sharp, in the Kasai region in 2017.

The responsibility of the intellectual who has allowed himself to be silenced by politics is emphasized here. Instead of being true to his responsibility as a role model, the professor or the intellectual is in the foreground as a main actor in the abuses of power described earlier, as he occupies important positions in the country.

It must be said that the ink of this cartoonist will never dry, because the harvest is abundant. This scene of political bedfellows and contradictory relationships is characterized by political ideologies that, although opposing, are united in their selfish interests, short-circuiting the rational mechanisms set up by the electorate. What a life in the anarchy that reigns there!

A scene full of twists, turns and facts bordering on the surreal is the most beautiful muse for an artist who collects information like Kash. The anti-values that have gained so much momentum form an agitation that generates embezzlement scandals, betrayals, arbitrary changes of political leaders, bloodbaths in the East, negotiations for positions, etc…

The lack of attention to the measures taken by the authorities against COVID-19 and the poor application of these measures are highlighted; the problem of vaccine to be implemented is also included in this account.

With current events as the starting point for the metaphorical retelling of Congolese political life, there is much to fear in the ease and lack of conscience with which the public interest is managed in this country.

In fact, the artist sometimes makes himself the bearer of a delicate ideal of reason, while mocking the daily antics of his country. Despite the graphic nature of his two-color caricatures and the omnipresence of a bright red – perhaps a sign of urgency – he does not fail to alarm a large part of the Congolese public while expressing a desire for change in all aspects of life in this country.

As mentioned above, Kash also publishes his caricatures in the “Caricature” section of the online newspaper “actualite.cd” and on Facebook. His potential readers respond to these caricatures, which are accompanied by informative texts, and they do not hesitate to be affected by the symbolism of the images, connected to the political context they know well. They comment and take a position. The humorous nature of Thembo Kash’s caricatures may be the reason this artist is not afraid of local politicians . Probably they do not understand his caricatures, as he says himself.