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Keeping a Sharp Eye: A Century of Cartoons on South Africa’S International Relations 1910–2010

Keeping a Sharp Eye: A Century of Cartoons on South Africa’S International Relations 1910–2010

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Keeping a Sharp Eye: A Century of Cartoons on South Africa’S International Relations 1910–2010

219 pagine
1 ora
Sep 10, 2012


International relations are what a government does when nobodys looking. While
this may well once have been true, the conduct of international relations in South
Africa and elsewhere has come under increasing scrutiny by the public. This is
partially the result of specialist expertise around the formal study of international
relations and the making of foreign policy, enhanced by the development of
International Relations as a separate academic field.
Like the growth of institutes of international affairs (or the Council on Foreign
Relations, in the case of America), the study of international relations commenced
at the end of the First World War (191418) with the establishment at the University
of Wales, Aberystwyth, of the first academic chair in International Relations. It was
called for Woodrow Wilson, Americas twenty-eighth president, and funded by
Welsh businessman and pacifist David Davis.
In South Africa, the study of international relations commenced with the
establishment of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA),
which met for the first time in the Senate Chamber of the University of Cape Town
on 12 May 1934. Until then International Relations had been taught in various
guises within History, Law, Economics and Politics courses, but it lacked a firm
institutional base. In South Africa, International Relations was first taught as a
separate academic discipline at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1963
although a professorship, called for Jan Smuts, was first filled in 1961.
Long before this institutional setting, however, a more subversive and
certainly more spicy variety of international relations understanding and critique
was at work: this was, of course, the sharp eye on foreign policy and international
relations, drawn in jest and sometimes in anger by cartoonists. Their interest in
international relations predates the emergence of the powerful critical perspectives
that have changed and almost redirected the field since the ending of the Cold War.
This book is about how these other experts have looked at and commented
on South Africas relations with the world over the past century. It examines their
interpretations of unfolding events and considers how these commentators and
their work interacted with the more formal understandings of foreign policy and
international relations that came to pass long after cartoons first appeared.
A century of South Africas engagement with the world is, understandably,
a long and complex story. Cartoons on the country were done years before the
1910 Act of Union, as some well-known cartoons of the Anglo-Boer War suggest.
However, by confining my choices to a hundred years of the South African state, I
have chosen firm bookends for the collection.
The choice of cartoons itself requires further clarification. There is a rather
worrying recent notion in South Africa that nothing that happened in the country
before the historic election of 1994 matters. In April 2009, at a conference, I heard
an academic colleague say that what happened in the 1930s was illegitimate
and of no real relevance to the present. This lack of interest in history is both
short-sighted and intellectually lazy. South Africas international relations today
are determined as much by the cartoons drawn by Boonzaier in 1910 as they are by
the cartoons drawn by Zapiro in 2010. I choose these two names not only because
they conveniently cover almost the full range of the alphabet, but because they run
from the founding of the South African state in 1910 to the present.
Their names signal something else, too. I have only chosen drawings by
cartoonists who worked in South Africa. As will be clear, many cartoonists were
not South Africanborn but brought the cartoonists trade with them to this
country. As such, they brought interpretations and understandings of the world
that helped to shape South Africas perspectives o
Sep 10, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Peter Vale is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria.

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Keeping a Sharp Eye - Peter Vale


Copyright © 2012 by Peter Vale, Otterley Press, Richard Hainebach.

ISBN:        Softcover                        978-1-4771-4933-1

                 Ebook                            978-1-4771-4934-8

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owners. Otterley Press ( and/or Richard Hainebach (

This publication contains material taken from numerous sources detailed herein. They are all hereby acknowledged with thanks.

The author expresses his sincere appreciation to the individuals and companies who generously supplied visual material for this project.

Copyright in the depicted artistic works resides with the various cartoonists and/or publishers. We have made all reasonable attempts to locate and obtain consent from the various copyright owners, and reproduction thereof is made with the consent of the copyright holder where possible.

To order additional copies of this book, contact:

Xlibris Corporation








1 What came before?

2 Beginnings 1910-1939

3 What lies beyond? 1940-1959

4 Free from what? 1960-1969

5 Now you’re on your own 1971-1979

6 Isolation—the full monty! 1980-1989

7 Starting over, again 1990-1999

8 Not at all easy, is it? 2000-2010


The cartoonists



ANC African National Congress

AU African Union

CAAA Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act

Cosatu Congress of South African Trade Unions

DP Democratic Party

DRC Democratic Republic of Congo EEC

EEC European Economic Community

EPG Eminent Persons Group

FIFA Fédération Internationale de Football Association

FNLA National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de a Libertação de Angola)

GEAR Growth, Employment and Redistribution

IFP Inkatha Freedom Party

MCC Marylebone Cricket Club

MDC Movement for Democratic Change (Zimbabwe)

MOTH Memorable Order of Tin Hats

MPLA Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola)

Nepad New Partnership for Africa’s Development

NP National Party

NPT Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

OAU Organisation of African Unity

RDP Reconstruction and Development Programme

Renamo Mozambican National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana)

SAA South African Airways

SACP South African Communist Party

SADC Southern African Development Community

SADCC Southern African Development Coordination Conference

SAIIA South African Institute of International Affairs

TRC Truth and Reconciliation Commission

UDF United Democratic Front

UDI Unilateral Declaration of Independence

UK United Kingdom

UN United Nations

Unita Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola)

US United States

USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


My profound thanks go to the late John Barratt, who was director of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) for twenty-nine years. Barratt had an enormous influence on my life and career, and this book is dedicated to his memory.

When Professor Barratt retired from SAIIA in 1994, I tried to interest him in doing a book on cartoons and South Africa’s foreign policy. He hesitated at first, and it was only after the passing of his wife, Valerie, a year later that he agreed to think seriously about it. Early plans were that the book would be done by Barratt, our long-term colleague Dr Jackie Kalley and me. As funding for the project was being raised, my career was swept along by other responsibilities and interests. But Barratt and Kalley ploughed on, doing an initial selection of cartoons and, through the Wits Foundation, securing funding. Barratt’s health deteriorated, however, and he reluctantly abandoned the project in the face of an illness that took his life in August 2007.

John Barratt was enormously important in the development of the study of International Relations in South Africa. The Times of London obituary called him the ‘father of the study of modern International Relations in South Africa’ – a fitting tribute to a gentle, principled scholar-cum-diplomat who never lost the ability to laugh at the funny side of a subject and a profession which he took very seriously.

Kalley and I spoke again in mid-2008 about the feasibility of completing the work. We agreed to cull some of the selections that she and Barratt had made and to refocus our attention on the post-apartheid years. Kalley later withdrew her editorial input when her newly established publishing company, Otterley Press, was selected as publisher. She has nevertheless been a tireless supporter of the project.

While working on the book I was directed to a piece by Libby Purvis, which appeared in The Guardian. In it, this hugely experienced British broadcaster and journalist discusses the origins of her love of cartoons and mentions that annuals of the British cartoonist Carl Giles (1916–95) lay around her childhood home. Giles was also the source of my own early delight in the cartoonist’s craft after my elder brother, Alan, returned to the dusty northern Transvaal from London with a Giles annual. I now realise this was a jewel in an otherwise bleak world. My thanks are thus due to my late sibling for introducing me to Giles; my enthusiasm for cartoons never waned from the day I first chuckled at a Giles cartoon. At about the same time I became interested in international relations through another sibling, my brother Colin, who had embarked on what was to be a short-lived career in the foreign service. For this opening, too, I am grateful. In a curious and somewhat serendipitous way, this book completes a circle that began in my early teens.

The idea of doing a book on South African international relations through cartoons only occurred to me when, at a meeting of the International Studies Association in the 1990s, I stumbled on A Cartoon History of United States Foreign Policy, 1776–1976. That set in motion the course of events already described.

Funding for the project came from Independent Newspapers. My thanks are due to Ivan Fallon, chief executive officer of Independent News & Media (South Africa) in the late- 1990s. The Wits Foundation held the money for a number of years. With the assistance of two Wits deputy vice-chancellors, Professor Belinda Bozzoli and Dr Robin Moore, it was released through a process expedited by Iain Burns.

A number of cartoonists featured in this book have encouraged the project: the enormously talented Jonathan Shapiro called the idea ‘terrific’ in an early e-mail exchange; a kindly Len Sak gave us access to his archive on a Sunday afternoon; Anthony Stidolph (Stidy) sent his work; and Nanda Soobben immediately saw the potential and gave me access to his work, as did Tony Grogan, Brandan Reynolds and Wilson Mgobhozi. Andy Mason was a great help, too.

My former student and copyright lawyer, Brian Wimpey, was more than generous with his time and resources, as was his young colleague Carmen Saggeus. Sabelo Jola at Grocott’s Mail did the initial scanning and Simon Pamphilon helped greatly with technical procedures. Three reviewers offered some sound ideas: one sensibly suggested that the project needed a further year to incubate fully.

Friends, family and professional colleagues were most accommodating when I asked for advice on some point or another. I am grateful to Saul Dubow, Deon Geldenhuys, Pieter Kapp, Martin Kramer, Les Labuschagne, Karen McGregor, Ian Phimister, Brooks Spector, Derek Tonkin, Colin Vale, Albert Venter and Peter Wolvaardt. My close friend Gavin Steward, university professor, former editor and a notable connoisseur of cartoons, searched for suitable books for me to read and provided a sounding board for ideas. My student and now research assistant, Estelle Prinsloo, paged through many cartoon books and photocopied endless pages. My thanks also go to the copy editor, Elizabeth Barratt, for cleaning up my scattered thoughts, to Tracy Seider for further editing the text, and to Sue Sandrock for layout.

I am grateful to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for writing the foreword: he is the only person in a hundred years of South African history who has the humour and raw courage to appear both in and on the cover of this book. South Africa has been blessed to call this genuinely funny, generous and crusading giant its citizen.

My wife, Louise, tolerated cartoons and cartoon books on the dining room table for more years than she cares to remember. I can only hope that she and my children, Beth and Dan – who were very little when the project was conceived and young adults when it was completed – will enjoy what they find between these covers.


International relations are no laughing matter: however, as the cartoons in this book show, both the horrors of war and the pleasures of peace have been the target of the cartoonist’s craft. This is because cartoonists often provide the most telling insight into issues that the rest of us find difficult, if not impossible, to comment on. In times of severe repression, the cartoonist’s sly metaphor might be the only possible public statement.

This collection shows that the telling of a century of South Africa’s international story has been well served by successive generations of cartoonists. They have commented on the folly of politicians and the foibles of common folk as they have engaged international networks of patronage and power in which South Africa has made its way from colonialism, through apartheid, to freedom.

Free South Africans owe the world a great deal: the international campaign to end apartheid was one of the great movements in history, comparable to the global movement that ended slavery. This is why South Africans should be troubled with events in Tibet and, closer to home, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The cartoons between these covers (and the many still to be drawn) remind us of the work that lies ahead in South Africa’s international relations.

So laugh at the cartoons on these pages and learn from the explanatory captions which Peter Vale offers – but remember, please, that international relations are no laughing matter.

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus

Cape Town


International relations are what a government does when nobody’s looking. While this may well once have been true, the conduct of international relations in South Africa and elsewhere has come under increasing scrutiny by the public.

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