Tony Namate is a Zimbabwean cartoonist who has gained international recognition for his scathing cartoon commentary on socio-political issues in Zimbabwe and beyond.His 2011 collection of political cartoons, whose title -- "The Emperor's New Clods" -- alludes to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes", has been described by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ Kevin Kallaugher as “...[puncturing] the pomposity of the powerful on behalf of the poor and the powerless.”
Growing up on American comics and British funnies his father would bring home from work, Tony was more fond of the drawings than he was of the text. He later became addicted to Mad magazine in high school in the 1980s, where he read Julius Caesar as well as George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The parallels between his country’s political situation and what he read would shape what was to become his political outlook.
Tony Namate credits his career as a cartoonist to the pioneer cartooning in Zimbabwe, Hassan Musa, the first black cartoonist in the country in the 1970s. Tony started his career as an editorial cartoonist in 1988 with the Zimbabwean state-controlled The Herald newspaper, where he worked till 1991 when he left to do independent political cartoons.He joined the Daily News, an independent daily, as an editorial cartoonist in 1999 when Zimbabwe politics was in turmoil: President Robert Mugabe, after leading the struggle to liberate the country from white minority rule, was being increasingly criticized for his autocratic style of governance and for human rights abuses while the economy was experiencing a worrisome nose-dive.
Tony Namate's work has earned him attacks and threats of legal from the Government of Zimbabwe, which has described him as "treasonable, infuriating and unacceptable".The Daily News, the independent paper he worked for in the late 90s, suffered a series of dangerous attacks, including one with a homemade bomb on 22 April 2000. A year later, in January 2001, another explosion blew up the daily's printing press. The paper and the cartoonist managed to carry on despite these attacks and the Daily News only shut its doors in 2003, when the government refused to grant it a permit. Namate refused to give up and rather went to work for the website New Zimbabwe.
Namate was a runner-up of the United Nations Correspondents Association's 2000 Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award, and was awarded the Cartoonists Rights Network, International's Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award, which he received in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.
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