Burning Down the Status Quo by Henri-Michel Yéré

Writer’s brief

The Satirical Press

“Seen, on the one hand, as public entertainers whose words are without great consequence, and, on the other, as an alternative to the traditional media with its highbrow content, the African satirical press today plays an important role in removing the sacred aura surrounding power in Africa. But the question is whether its standing as a sacrosanct force, and in particular as one of political legitimization, contributes to undermining its own efforts to clean up public affairs on the continent. As the popular Guinean saying goes, we end up like a groundnut collector whose work is done going backwards.” – Michel Ongoundou Loundah, the director of Le Gri-Gri.

One of the hallmarks of African journalism is its caustic, irreverent, satirical press. Drawing on a melange of influences – local artistic traditions and visual culture, European comic journalism, folk tales and satirical literature, this press uses humour and satire to expose the contradictions, hypocrisies and abuses of power on the ground.

Often written in a hodgepodge of languages – French and pidgin English combined with African lingua franca, publications include The Lynx in Guinea, the Cafard Libéré in Senegal, the Journal du Jeudi in Burkina Faso, Ivorian Gbich!, Mamy-Wata, in Cameroon, as well as the Gri-Gri International, a “refugee” in France, and more.

We lift the lid on the satirical press in Africa to expose its innovations, complexities and challenges.

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