Political Satire In Africa
By Paul Ndiho
Comics are all over the entertainment circuit, trying to make us laugh with their political satire. From the likes of Herbert Ssegujja, AKA “Mendo Museveni”, to Adeola Fayehun – Presenter of “Keeping It Real” on Sahara TV — to Kenya and South Africa’s political satire puppet shows.
They seem to be omnipresent in our lives, to the extent that not only are they on local African television, but they have gone global via the internet, especially on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Herbert Ssegujja alias “Mendo Museveni”, A secondary school teacher and mimic in chief, is one of Uganda’s top comedians. He has built his career impersonating celebrities and politicians — especially Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Ssegujja imitates President Museveni to near perfection. From the expressions and voice, to the stance and clothing, Ssegujja became well-versed in all things Museveni.
But Ssegujja calls it flattery, not mockery — especially since he’s an avid Museveni supporter.
The president was so amused he had to wipe away tears from laughing so hard.
New York based — Nigerian born Adeola Fayehun – Producer and Presenter of “Keeping It Real” on SaharaTV is also making her mark on the international stage. She now largely aims that talent at the political elite — especially Nigerian politicians.
It’s a passion Fayehun hopes to take far, while finding her own success. Observers say Fayehun’s online TV show “keeping it real” is causing some concern among some Nigerian politicians.
In Kenya, A local TV show featuring life-size puppets in the likeness of various top newsmakers – called XYZ – premiered on Kenyan television more than 5 years ago. The show centers on current affairs and is heavily satirical. Its producers say it is a unique and quirky way to discuss Kenyan and international political — and social issues. Gado is the producer and creator XYZ.
“We wanted to do a political satire show and at times we are mistaken as a comedy show, but it is not a comedy show, we want to do a political satire show. We thought we could have an interesting show using puppets, we can satirize politicians and lampoon them but at the same time, interrogate them and Kenyans as a society to look at ourselves and whether we achieve that, remains to be seen.”
Satirical shows, like” keeping it real”, XYZ and the South African based “Africa Puppet show” created by controversial South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, have millions of viewers tuning in to watch on television, and many more watch online. Analysts say political satirists are pushing the boundaries of free speech, in some countries more than others. And comedians Across Africa are now beginning to cash-in — and the sky is the limit.