Gado Blames Government Pressure As Cartoonist's Contract At Kenya's Nation Ends
For 23 years Godfrey Mwampembwa has been a prominent and quick-witted observer of the political scene in East Africa. But all that changed last month when the cartoonist, known as Gado, was told his contract at Kenya's biggest newspaper, the Nation , would not be renewed.
Gado, who is one of Africa's most celebratedcartoonists , said no reason was given for the termination of his contract-the Nation management said in an interview with AfricaUncensored it was a normal contractual parting of ways-but the cartoonist told CPJ he firmlysuspects the paper was under pressure from government officials.
He told CPJ he has been under considerable pressure for months from representatives of Kenyan 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 Nationcrumbled, 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 told CPJ by email.