Meet social, political satirical cartoonist, William Musonda Katongo AKA Lord Wapi who at only 24 is using his art to speak up on social and political movements in Zambia.
With a growing social media following, his cartoons which often take a comical yet poignant position on current events in Zambia cover key social issues such as Gender Based Violence, rape culture, politics, women’s rights, religion, development and human rights. Most recently he has addressed police brutality that led to the death of a university student, fuel price hikes and China-Africa relations.
As someone whose passions and career are focused on social justice issues, I value those Like Lord Wapi who in the face of socially and politically unfavourable times are brave enough to speak up through their art. Lord Wapi is brave for his opinions as Africa is not always a kind environment for cartoonists. Rwanda for example recently banned cartoons that satirise law makers, cabinet and security officers and in Zambia satirical political commentator Roy Clarke, was some years ago threatened with deportation for his opinions on the government.
Lord Wapi’s work was brought to my attention from someone in my network. I was immediately gripped and quickly looked him up to see the rest of his work. Excited to write and learn more about him, I reached out to him and expressed my intentions. He was kind, receptive and open to being asked anything. I quickly sent him a series of question which he responded to with great detail and honesty.
Lord Wapi recalls that he has always been in love with cartoons and started drawing at the age of 5. He however only began to share his work publicly 2 years ago. No longer limiting his work to his bedroom, he now publishes his work through social media, is building a brand around his work and applies specific techniques to set his work apart. With his growing following and with many including myself looking forward to seeing his latest work each week, he has evolved from drawing cartoons for fun to using them to send a message about key issues. He stresses that one does not have to be in political office to develop the country, instead each citizen can help to develop the country through their talents.
As with other developing societies, Zambia is plagued with numerous social and political issues and many groups in society are disenfranchised. These issues often stir conversations and debates among citizens. Lord Wapi sees it as his duty to take part in these conversations through what he does best.
As far as his career goes, although he speaks humbly of it, he works with organisations, does caricatures for individuals, produces cartoons for the Raw Conversations Podcast with DJ Chromez and Fanatik, has produced album cover art for various artists and may soon contribute to a Zimbabwean magazine as a regular cartoonist.
When I asked him what he wants to be remembered for, he responded that he wants to leave this planet as one of Zambia’s number one cartoonists and he would like to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Roy Clarke. With the seriousness and passion that he puts in his work he surely will achieve this goal.
Unsurprisingly, Lord, Wapi’s idols are individuals who use their art and talent to spread a positive message. Through his idols, one can clearly see his intelligence and wide grasp of not only Zambian but African and global issues. He looks up to the likes of Fela Kuti who was a Nigerian musician who used his music to speak up against bad governance at the time, George Carlin, an American stand-up comedian who spoke up on the Vietnam War and other controversial topics and Saul Williams a poet who speaks up on black empowerment and institutionalised racism.
When it comes to Zambians, he idolises the legendary Roy Clarke for his satirical commentary on Zambian politics and the musician and social activist Pilato, a close friend and mentor whom he hails for his bravery and strength.
Lord Wapi, through leveraging his art to speak up against social issues sends a strong message and teaches other young people that anyone can spark positive social change through their talents.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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