The Search for New Roles for Cartoon Arts: Promoting Democracy in Nigeria through Innuendos of Political Communication

By Jacob Udayi Agba, Ndoma James Brown and Cornelius Ellah.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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Cartoons have often played a major role in the democratisation process in many societies. In Nigeria, even during the military era when freedom of expression was restricted, cartoons served as an alternative means of expression. Currently, Nigeria is in the second decade of civil rule, though the influence of ‘Khaki Rule’ has scarcely disappeared from Nigerian government and society. This has made many Nigerians unable to fully and confidently embrace the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution. It has therefore become imperative to search for new roles and the slant of innuendos in which cartoonists in Nigeria have used to communicate with the political elites in the country. Over the years, cartoons have positively or negatively shaped public opinions on social issues. In 2005, over 300 people were killed in the northern part of Nigeria during a religious riot fueled by a Danish editorial cartoon publication which satirized the Islamic religious leader, Prophet Muhammad. Such occurrences show that cartoons are a formidable force and could serve as mirrors of the society. The cartoons published in newspapers are awash with various images depicting the ills in society. Themes range from corruption and political instability to electoral fraud. Apart from serving as a corrective measure, they also serve as historical documents and are a ‘snapshot’ of the political climate of a given period. The 2007 elections in Nigeria were adjudged nationally and internationally as having fallen short of the standard; thus, the sham elections themselves had become a political cartoon and were highly critiqued during the 2011 elections. Arising from this scenario, the question on the minds of many people is how cartoonists can overcome extremities and remain objective in their form of communication. Consequently, examines cartoons from two Nigerian national dailies, “the Guardian” and “The Daily Nation”, in search for alternative roles played by cartoons in promoting democratic ideals in Nigeria during the 2011 general elections. One hundred and fifty-three cartoons, published over the period of six months, were studied and analyzed through content analysis. The analysis revealed that cartoons in Nigerian newspapers focus on several different issues, but most are openly confrontational. While cartoons rarely serve as commendation, the differing positions of the newspapers have been used to document, critique, and reflect the social and political issues in the country.

Keywords: Cartoon Arts, Khaki Rule, Innuendos of Political Communication

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 12, Issue 2, January 2015, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 887.901KB).

Dr. Jacob Udayi Agba

Associate Professor, Faculty of Communication Technology, Department of Mass Communication, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

Dr. Ndoma James Brown

Lecturer, Faculty of Communication Technology, Department of Mass Communication, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

Cornelius Ellah

Lecturer, Faculty of Communication Technology, Department of Mass Communication, Cross River University of Technology, Lecturer, Cross River State, Nigeria