Effectiveness Of Newspaper Cartoons In The Promotion Of Politics In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Effectiveness Of Newspaper Cartoons In The Promotion Of Politics In Nigeria


Political cartoons are effective means cartoonists use to express their thoughts and ideas about political issues, events or personalities in a particular period in a playful manner. They are openly and discreetly used to make compelling statement and provide specific knowledge on contemporary socio-political issues. The goal of political cartoon is to raise public consciousness using figurative tone and graphical imageries to address crucial issues and criticize political leaders and their contemptible practices. In other words, the genre serves as amedium of political reporting, articulating a particular message from a particular point of view using language and imageries as prime tools.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Newspaper cartoons are the study drawing or series of art drawings that tell stories about human actions or inaction in the society. Cartoons Amuse, yet they are veritable means of exposing social ills, Ukonu (2013,) they as well commercials are convey message of deep meaning and magnitude.

A cartoon is a medium of expressing criticism without appearing harmful, Ukonu (2013). It educates attacks, irritates, teases or satirizes societal ills and gross misconduct of people. They may tell stories in single panel format with single picture in a box. Here, the story may begin and end in box. Multiple panel cartoons involve more than one cartoon in the box or sequence of boxes.

Editorial cartoons are single panel graphics that comment on political events and policy, and serve to define the significant topics of political discourse and record them, thus creating a “snapshot” of the political climate in a given period (Delouse and Midhurst, 2002)

Some scholars see cartoons as an important medium for the formation of public opinions on salient social issues (Agberia, 2003) They are seen as “both, opinion- mounding and opinion –reflecting”, and they provide subtle frameworks within which to examine the life and political process of a nation (Caswell, 2002) Cartoons are intended to transform otherwise complex and opaque social events and situations into quick and easily readable depictions that facilitate comprehension of the nature of social issues and events (Agberia, 2003). In doing so, they present the society with visually palpable and hyper-ritualized depictions (selectively exaggerated portions of reality) that attempt to reveal the essence and meaning of social events.

Cartoon is defined as “a graphic presentation typically designed in a one panel, non-continuing format to make an independent statement or observation on political events or social policy”, (Edwards and Winkler, 2007). They often employ humour or irony to point out short-comings or hypocrisies within the political system. While many studies use the terns “political cartoon” and “editorial cartoon” interchangeably, others differentiate between comic strips with political contents, and single panel cartoons that make commentary on politics and policy. The latter would generally appear on the editorial page of a printed newspaper, and are the focus of this study.

Historically, cartoon is coined from Italian word “cartoon” meaning, “a big paper” of a full-size drawing made on paper as a study for further artwork. The use of cartoon on print media dates back from 1843 when” punch Magazine” applied the term to satirize the action of John Lee in its pages, (Obasi 2011, p.84)

What we may refer to as modern cartoon started to appear on newspapers and magazines since 1900, although later entered electronic media when the system of communication development came up in 1920s. In 1906, the first animated film in the United States, “The Humorous Phase” was developed by cartoonist James Stuart Blackton.

The advent of news interpretation and analysis of print media provided another class of newspaper and magazine cartoons called “Editorial cartoons”. Editorial writers use cartoons on editorial pages to depict or illustrate any controversial issue under discussion which editorial focused on. Most of these cartoons are very satirical in relation to what idea the editorial carries on its pages (Iyida, 2000)

Cartooning has been one of the most significant tools in propagating and promoting cultural heritage in Nigeria. Newspaper cartoons throughout Nigerian history reveal that they have served as unique windows useful in understanding local and national politics. Using imagery, metaphor, symbolism and others rhetorical devices, the cartoonist defines political situations and attempts to interpret them visually in a way that is both amusing and thought provoking. The exploits of Akinola Lasekan with his editorial cartoons in the” west African Pilot in the 1940 and 1950s reflect colonial life, and also depict the struggle for nationhood which later culminated in Nigeria’s independence in 1960 (Olaniyan,2001:5).

Additionally, and perhaps must importantly, newspaper cartoons serve as a unique record of the particular events, attitudes and narratives present during a moment in political history (Defocus and Midhurst, 2002)

Newspaper cartons feature prominently during military rule in Nigeria. The period (1983-1999) witnessed remarkable events in the democratization of the country. Characterized by abusive use of power by the military government beginning with General Muhammadu Buhari’s coup d’état on 31 December 1983, followed closely was a the tenure of General Ibrahim Babangida, who was described as the “Maradona” of Nigerian politics due to his methods of politics visible in the annulment of the presidential Election in 1993, and the eventual transmission to democratically elected president in 1999.

However, this study aims to examine the effects of newspaper cartoon as a tool for political communication, focusing on Sun newspaper from January – April 2015.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Newspaper cartoon has a long- standing tradition of merging satire with political commentary in a society. It has in several situations, been the most direct medium for criticizing bad practice and maladministration governments (Agberia, 2003). According to Onipede (2007, p.2) the history of the struggle for democracy in Nigeria will not be complete without discussing the role of Nigerian cartoonists during the military era, but then these days, newspaper cartoons have been manipulated in one way or the other by the politicians, especially when it is meant to criticize their activities. This has militated against the role of newspaper cartoon as a tool for political communication. Yet another problem is the fact that most cartoonists wrongly portray their intent which made them difficult to comprehend the essence of the cartoon itself.

This study therefore aims at exploring the role this genre of graphic arts had played in documenting and reflecting the socio-political conditions during democratization period in Nigeria and therefore been an objective critique of government in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of the study.

  1. To determine the effectiveness of newspaper cartoons in the promotion of politics in Nigeria
  2. To examine the role of newspaper cartoon in the practice of political democracy in Nigeria
  3. To investigate the extent to which newspaper cartoons criticize bad leadership in Nigerian governance
  4. To ascertain the effectiveness of newspaper cartoons as a formation of public opinions on social and political issues.

1.4 Research Questions

The following researches Question are formulated for this research work.

  1. Does newspaper cartoon have any effect in the promotion of politics in Nigeria?
  2. Does newspaper cartoon serve as a tool for political democracy in Nigeria?
  3. To what extent does newspaper cartoon criticize bad leadership in Nigerian governance?
  4. To what extent does newspaper cartoon serve as a medium for the formation of public opinion our social and political issue?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are formulated for the research work

  1. H1. Newspaper cartoon has a strong effect in the promotion of politics in Nigerian.
    H0 Newspaper cartoon does not have a strong effect in the promotion of Politics in Nigeria.
  2. H2 Newspaper cartoon serve as a tool for the practice of political democracy in Nigeria.
    H0 Newspaper cartoon does not serve as a tool for the practice of political democracy in Nigeria.
  3. H3 Newspaper cartoon are used to criticize bad leadership in Nigerian in governance.
    H0 Newspaper cartoons are not used to criticize bad leadership in Nigeria governance.
  4. H4 Newspaper cartoon serve as a medium for the information of public opinion on social and political issues.
    H0 Newspaper cartoon does not serve as a medium for the information of public opinion on social and political issues.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This research study will be of immense significance to Nigerian populace especially in Enugu state. It will go to a great extend in enlightening them on the concept of cartooning as well as its essence in maintaining effective governance system.

It will as well benefit students and researchers. They will widen their scope from the information contained in this research study.

1.7 Theoretical Framework

The study was carried out within the framework of Foucault’s concepts of govern mentality, a construct that describes the governed, characterized by abuse of power on the part of the government, and attempts by the governed to limit the abuse (Monga, 2006).

Cartoonists who employed transiliece engage in what Deleuze and Guattari (2002, p.40) all “deterritorialization,” the communicative act that consists of taking human beings out of familiar “territories” for purpose of ethical critique. Other theories that are supportive of the study include.

Relief Theory: Relief theory is one of the prominent theories which account for humor in media contents particularly cartoons. These theories deal will psychological function of humorin terms of emotions and feelings evoked by humorous events. Relief theories involve the arousal relief mechanism (Attardo, 2003: 199). They are often associated to fraud, a prominent figure in psychoanalytical studies. Thus, humor operates through social interaction thereby alleviating sexual and aggressive tension.

For instance, caricaturing in cartoons can stimulate laughter, which eventually relieves an individual’s tension. This process causes a build-up of nervous energy which is usually released through laughter (Bell, 2000).

Superiority Theory: The main concern of superiority theory is on self assertion that is the disposition of the observer and the observed who initiates humorous effects. This relationship explains how things look funny naturally. These theories focus on sociological aspect of humor in terms of behavioral and social level that is why the theories are often referred to as aggression based theories.

People usually do laugh at others when they feel superior in one way or the other that is why cartoonists use laughter from this perspective to satirize and ridicule politicians. More specifically, the major argument of superiority theory is that an individual or group of people may derive enjoyment by ridiculing beliefs of others for the fact that they think their belief is superior to those of others. Superiority theory is said to have originated from Plato’s philosophical observation that people get enjoyment from the pitfalls or shortcomings of others (MacHovec, 2008).

1.8 Scope of the Study

This research study on the effect of newspaper cartoon as a tool for political communication is focused on a study of Sun newspaper from January-April 2015.

1.9 Limitations of the Study

The researcher encountered financial constraints during this research. This led to the completion of this research work.

Also, there was not enough time on the part of the researcher due to the limited time of the semester on the time required for lecture periods. The researcher also had difficulty in gathering the information necessary for successful completion of this research work.

1.10 Definition of Terms

Conceptual Definitions

1. Effect:

A change that is produced in one person or thing by another.

2. Newspaper:

This is seen as any printed papers with account of information to deliver.

3. Cartoon:

A funny drawing print and electronic media about news events.

4. Tool:

Any device or useful object for work performance.

5. Communication:

communication entails the transmission of information ideals, attitudes, opinions’ thoughts and feelings from one person to another (Agbo and Ezinwa, p.1).

Operational Definitions

1. Effect:

Result or consequences of an action.

2. Newspaper:

Periodical containing informational materials of public interest.

3. Cartoon:

A humorous drawing in a magazine or newspaper, often with words written below.

4. Tool:

Any object that can be used to execute job professionally.

5. Political:

A word that is connected with the state government or public affairs.

6. Communication:

A process of transmitting and receiving symbol cues, both verbal and non- verbal

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of newspaper cartoons in the promotion of politics in Nigeria.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in examining the effectiveness of newspaper cartoons in the promotion of politics in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

This study was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of newspaper cartoons in the promotion of politics in Nigeria. The study opened with chapter one where the statement of the problem was clearly defined. The study objectives and research hypotheses were defined and formulated respectively. The study reviewed related and relevant literatures. The chapter two gave the conceptual framework, empirical and theoretical studies. The third chapter described the methodology employed by the researcher in collecting both the primary and the secondary data. The research method employed here is the descriptive survey method. The study analyzed and presented the data collected in tables and tested the hypotheses using the chi-square statistical tool. While the fifth chapter gives the study summary and conclusion.

5.3 Conclusions and Recommendation

It can be concluded that the cartoon depicting thegeneral elections were mainly satirical. Most of the confrontational cartoons were also satirical. These deductions show that the cartoons were laced with ironies or innuendos and therefore took the direction of satires in the expression of issues on the 2011 general elections. As a clear vision of new functions for cartoons in promoting democratic ideals in Nigeria, we therefore, need to re-examine the concepts of nationalism,” which are not to be confused with patriotism. According to Lamb [1], “confusing patriotism with nationalism is like confusing faith with blind obedience. Patriotism allows for questioning; nationalism does not. Nationalism is understood as an ideology that demands absolute loyalty and, in doing so, exacts a high price.” Lamb [1] argues, more or less, that the distinction between patriotism and nationalism collapses “when sensitivities are particularly rarefied” (i.e. moments of crisis), and that patriotism is then incorporated into the category of nationalism, with criticism situated as antithetical to the latter category. Thus, cartoonists that must promote democratic ideals must not allow any crisis to lure them away from true patriotism towards “the so-called, nationalism.” This way, no matter the slant of innuendos involved in cartoon art communication, the objectivity of the propaganda will be retained, the purity of the art will be respected and the dignity of the communication effort will always be the pride of all.

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