AN OPEN LETTER TO JONATHAN SHAPIRO
The essence of this letter pertains to your drawing of Jacob Zuma, the president of the ANC. Mainly, it is about your attachment of the shower to his head. You took the clue of the shower extension to his head from the rape trial. Since then, it has been your hallmark whenever you feel the urge to lampoon Zuma.
My humble request to you is that perhaps it is time you stopped doing so. I must hasten to say, though, that I have not been asked by Zuma or anyone in the ANC to engage you on this matter.
I appeal to you purely on humane basis. Being a fellow African, you are aware that forgiving those who err both in judgment and action is our norm. More so to those who ask of society to forgive them.
Thus, I am less concerned that he was found not guilty in the rape trial. I am more taken by the fact that he apologised to society. Our humane introspection demands of us to give him the benefit of the doubt, that more than anything else, he meant well.
I do accept though, that not everyone has forgiven him. Perhaps you too - it is within your right - have not forgiven him.
However, your continued usage of the shower in the drawings of Zuma casts a guilty verdict in the court of public opinion. Painfully, every drawing of Zuma with a shower attached to his head is society's gory reminder of the rampant rape, and the scourge of the HIV-Aids epidemic in South Africa.
While I take it that these are social ills that must permeate into our national consciousness in order to address them, I believe, Zapiro, that it is unfair to make Zuma the national epitome of rape, and HIV-Aids.
As a society, we are constantly forced to remember the rape trial. Rather than his selfless life of struggle for the freedoms of expressions and creativity - we are now, through your drawings, forced to see Zuma purely from the rape trial.
My essence of humanity indicates that there is every thing wrong if we use one man in society as an epitome of the evils of rape and HIV-Aids. Your Zuma shower-head has elevated his rape trial to Zuma being the evil symbol of both. In my own humane reflections, this is unfair on a man who voluntarily faced society and owned up to his error of judgment and sought atonement.
Dear Zapiro, I have great respect for your work. You are more than a mere cartoonist - you have become an acclaimed institution domestically and internationally. I have bought several of your books for my friends whenever I leave the country.
I am sure that you are well aware that harping on an issue endlessly can make it lame. Even worse, harping on an issue which has been settled against someone turns to bear the hallmarks of a personal hatred against that person.
At this point, it is beginning to appear that way - that you hate Zuma. Like my friends say in Soweto - it is personal!
Your work must continue to stand out objectively on its own. Your work should continue to stand out on its own without the inference of "by the way, Zapiro hates Zuma".
Perhaps, Zapiro, we should remind ourselves of some of the tenets that have sustained this democracy: forgiveness and reconciliation.
In the cartoons you make of FW de Klerk for example, there is no reflection of the Boipatong massacre. Or any other misdeed carried out by apartheid generals. This is good because as we build a nation, we do not want to burden society with painful memories.
I shudder to think about Zuma's family whenever they see your cartoons of him. I am convinced that they hurt, they bleed, and they suffer the wounds of the rape trial.
The wounds of the rape trial cannot disappear and heal as long as your Zuma shower cartoons prevail.
I believe that no man should be caricatured as non-forgivable. The goodness of our humanity, soul, and spirit compels us to forgive those who err in judgment.
More so those who actively ask of us to forgive them. We will be worse than their deeds if we constantly remind them and everybody else of their humane errors.
I pray that you will find it in your heart, soul, and good spirit, to spare Zuma, Khwezi (Zuma's rape accuser), his immediate family, and the public at large, the fresh painful wounds of rape and HIV-Aids which your Zuma drawings keep such evil acts fresh in our minds.
May the Creator bless and be with you.