Monitor Cartoon Cleared Of Insensitity


Summaries of arguments

In their complaint, BOMWA and GEMSA argue that the said cartoon displays insensitivity on the part of the cartoonist and it degrades women aspiring for top positions in the political arena.

They further present that the cartoon is demeaning to Ms Kathleen Letshabo in particular, and the women folk in general who want to aspire for top positions in the society. As such they want the newspaper to apologize for this transgression.
For their part the Monitor newspaper agree that the cartoon was drawn in the context of the just conducted BNF special congress in Molepolole.

They say the significance of the cartoon is the depiction that when two contending forces lock horns the one which is defeated has to give way for the victorious one. The bull, in their argument is used metaphorically to symbolize power or leadership. As such, the cartoon borrowed directly from the Setswana adage that translates that: "Two contending forces never share territorial space" or "Poo ga di nke di tlhakanela lesaka".

The committee examined the cartoon in question and viewed it against the background on which it was based, viz, the BNF special congress which was held in Molepolole. In fact the caption of the cartoon is clear on that. The cartoonist has drawn two bulls, one in the kraal and the other outside. The one outside is apparently the defeated beast for territorial authority.

The Setswana idiom "Poo ga di nke di tlhakanela lesaka" is well known among Tswana speaking communities of southern Africa. It can be used regardless of the gender of the person being referred to. For instance, sometimes the expression is used by a mother to her children, indicating to them that she is the one in charge in the household and if they think they can challenge her authority they better move out. Fathers also use it against anyone, be it their children, spouses or other men. Managers at various work situations, regardless of their gender also use the same expression in public offices against anyone, to assert their authority.

The Media Complaints Committee is of the view that while one of the contestants of the BNF's special congress depicted by the cartoon happens to be a woman, the cartoon itself is not gender-biased as used in the context of poo ga di nke di tlhakanela lesaka idiom. We are of the view that it is only coincidental that contestants are of opposite sex, but the spirit of the cartoon would apply in similar situations even if contenders for power were both ladies.

Complainants do not make it clear as to exactly how the cartoon is "insensitive" or biased against women who aspire for top positions in the political arena.
The cartoon as here presented is a metaphorical expression of the Setswana idiom as variously used. Used in the specific circumstances the cartoon has been presented, we do not find it demeaning to the women folk and therefore do not find it necessary for The Mmegi Monitor to publish an apology for this.

In saying so, we are quite mindful of the fact that, in their pursuit of artistic freedom, cartoonists as well as journalists, should operate within the confines of conventionally acceptable practice, without going overboard. Their cartoons and imagery should represent the truth and reality as can be interpreted by an average citizen.
You have 14 days upon receipt of this notification, in which to appeal to the Media Appeals Committee of the Press Council of Botswana, if you wish to seek further recourse to the matter.

Marx Garekwe - Chairperson
Media Complaints Committee
30 July 2007


Editor's Comment
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