The Art of “Fake” Fake Political Caricatures: Mugabe and Me

I chose to draw my first caricature based on one of Kevin Kallagher’s drawings, since he is responsible for some of my all-time favorite political caricatures (which are often featured on the front page of The Economist). Kallagher has been drawing cartoons for The Economist for the past 30 years, and the aspect I enjoy the most about his work is the detail in the characters’ shadings. Additionally, I enjoy the fact that Kallagher, who signs himself as “KAL,” doesn’t distort his figures too much. This means that although he places emphasis on characteristic features of the politicians, he doesn’t exaggerate these features to an absurd degree, meaning the politicians he draws resemble the actual subjects more than most other caricatures do.

A Kevin Kallagher caricature for The Economist with Robert Mugabe pictured on the right.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s President is the subject of my drawing. He has held power since 1980, after he led Zimbabwe towards national independence from Britain. One of the reasons I chose to draw him is that he is often seen as “a cartoon figure of an archetypal African dictator” (these were the words used by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe Mugabe). This along with his awful record for human rights and his notoriously lavish birthday parties make him a politician who is easy to criticize. In addition Mugabe has been accused of meddling with elections, having a dizzyingly corrupted regime, and leading the country towards the worst hyperinflation in its history, which led to an economic collapse in 2016 and made the finance minister admit, “Right now, we literally have nothing.” Mugabe is now 93 and even with his declining health, he seems likely to hold onto power until the day he dies. After almost 40 years of rule, there will certainly be a power vacuum when he is finally gone and a subsequent power struggle within his party (the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) and the wider political scene.