South African cartoonist Zapiro receives top French cultural award

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South African cartoonist Zapiro was presented with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, one of France's highest cultural honours, at a ceremony on Wednesday.


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Zapiro, real name Jonathan Shapiro, was given the award to recognise his contribution to international culture by the French Ambassador to South Africa, Aurélien Lechevallier.

South Africans including the photographer Zanele Muholi, the artist William Kentridge, and the musician Johnny Clegg have previously received the honour.

Zapiro is well known for his political cartoons, particularly those celebrating former president Nelson Mandela and those satirising later president Jacob Zuma. His work regularly features in the nation's press.

The 61-year-old cartoonist was ranked by Jeune Afrique magazine as one of the 50 most influential personalities on the African continent.

It was a drawing on the anti-apartheid movement that made him famous.

"It provided a springboard for my career. I tried to reproduce the excitement of belonging to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s. And then, you see, I used to draw policemen as pigs. When they saw this, they came to get me, and they asked me: 'Why are you drawing us as pigs?' I said I was drawing what I was seeing.They put me in isolation for that," he explains.

Since then, he has published 28 books and caricatured most South African political figures.

Former President Nelson Mandela is his favourite. "I had the idea of Read More – Source