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Shower Power? Satire and the Zuma Presidency
Karlstads universitet, Institutionen för språk, litteratur och interkultur, Karlstad, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0126-5655
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Already before his election as president of South Africa in 2009, Jacob Zuma was a public figure mired in controversy. Securing power through populism, and amid allegations of rape, corruption and racketeering, Zuma was instrumental in turning the African National Congress against the sitting president Thabo Mbeki, and led the party to another election victory in 2014 before resigning in February 2018.

In this presentation, I give a few examples of the use of satire against the Zuma presidency, focusing on the way in which the showerhead became a metonymy for corruption. The cartoonist Zapiro first started drawing the showerhead on top of Zuma’s head after Zuma testified at his 2006 rape trial – he was acquitted – that he took a shower after unprotected sex to minimise the risk of contracting HIV. In subsequent years, the showerhead was used as the cartoonist’s political barometer, growing and shrinking depending on the issues of the day (and at times disappearing completely), while reminding the public how misguided the president was about HIV infection. The showerhead has become part of South Africa’s popular culture; it has been used both by Zuma’s political opponents to taunt the president, as well as by public protesters.

While the true costs of the Zuma presidency to South Africa are yet to be established, Zuma has provided satirists and political opponents with a seemingly inexhaustible wealth of material. In this context, satire is highly political, and it has served to highlight issues of free speech and censorship. At the same time, however, the role played by satire in bringing about political change is difficult to determine.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Cultural Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-76033OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-76033DiVA, id: diva2:1354229
Conference
Satire as Perspective on the Contemporary workshop, Karlstad, Sweden, October 17, 2018
Available from: 2019-09-24 Created: 2019-09-24 Last updated: 2019-09-25Bibliographically approved

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Grimbeek, Marinette

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf