Nigerian Artistry – Cartooning and Parody

POSTED IN Art, Art history, Culture, Drawing, Drawn art
By Tobijulo Onifade
According to the Apple dictionary, a Cartoon is a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine. This concept started in the Middle ages with Paintings, tapestry and so on and later evolved in the 19th and 20th century, from illustrations in print to comic strips and animation. Here in Nigeria, according to Mr Jimoh’s paper, (“The Role of Editorial Cartoons in the Democratisation Process in Nigeria: A Study of Selected Works of Three Nigerian Cartoonists”) parody/satire existed even before Colonization. It was more verbal and visual through songs and others such as masquerade masks in traditional festivals such as Gelede, Efe, Egungun, etc.

Iconic Cartoonists in Nigeria

Akinola Lasekan

Akinola Lasekan (1914-1972) was a painter, textile designer, illustrator, teacher and cartoonist. He is considered as one of the pioneers of Modern Art in Nigeria. He is credited to be the first cartoonist to work in media in Nigeria. He was a cartoonist for the West African Pilot, a publication founded by Nnamdi Azikwe (the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria). He was a staunch supporter of Nnamdi Azikwe and used his cartoons to attack the opposition and also give a social commentary of the state of affairs then. Although his paintings and other forms of art were freer and creative, his cartoons were stiff as then, as they had to be carved on woodblocks and printed.




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Dele Jegede

Dele Jegede is a Nigerian American painter, art historian, cartoonist, curator, teacher, etc. He is a Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He studied at the Yaba College of Art and Technology and went on to Ahamdu Bello University in Zaria. He was a cartoonist and art editor at the Daily Times and its sister paper the Sunday Times. He created 2 comic strips “Flower Power” (1975-1976) and Kole Omole, also known as Kole the menace (1976-1979,1983-1987), which made him a household name. He published satirical political cartoons as well as others that focused on the excessive nature of the privileged. He is still based in the USA and penned an autobiography in 2014 called, “Art, Parody and Politics”.








Adeboye Adegbenro

Adeboye was born in Ibadan, Oyo state was worked as a cartoonist for Punch newspaper in 1977, he left Punch for Concord in the 1980’s and then left Nigeria for the US in 1990. He got a BFA in illustration and cartooning in 1994 and has worked as a 2d artist/illustrator for Walk Disney, Warner brothers and more. He is a certified teacher. He was a satirical political cartoonist and was extremely critical of Shagari and Buhari’s regime. His works brought to light the ills of these governments and their disconnect with the lives of ordinary Nigerians.







Jossy Ajiboye

Jossy Ajiboye was born in Ondo state and trained at the Yaba College of Art and Technology. He first started out at the Morning Post newspaper and went on to the Daily Times. He has been in the cartooning industry for over 40 years and is well known for his social and political commentary. I for one, learnt a lot about the climate of the military regime through his cartoons.






Akinwale Onipede

Akinwale was born in Ekiti and schooled at the University of Benin where he graduated with a B.A in Painting. He worked at the Nigerian Tribune and other newspaper houses as an editorial cartoonist. He is well known for his political commentary especially the Abacha years, his death and the transition to Democratic rule in 1999.




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These are the cartoonists who used their gift to humour Nigerians through the best and worst of times. There are more who did this and one is Folashade Adebare, the first female cartoonist (still getting more information on her). These individuals were harassed but were not easily broken and they used their art form to document the climate of Nigeria at different seasons.
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