What is so enchanting about the editorial cartoon?
It is one of the oldest mediums for communicating densely complicated political situations and societal ills in hyperbolic and often ironic ways. As early as the 1700’s editorial cartoons have graced the pages of publications in the United States taking critical stabs at political figures and government policies.
Through the organization Afrikanation, an NGO currently operating in Hargeysa (Somaliland) Somalia, I was introduced to the work of Abdul Muhiadin and was immediately drawn to his original and powerful images. In 2011, Executive Director Ebony Iman delivered 500 pounds of art supplies to Somali artists in Hargeysa through Afrikanation. Her artists have created phenomenal and compelling paintings and drawings which often reveal the tumultuous history of the country.
Women’s rights is a key issue in Somalia and particularly in the lower part of the country where Mogadishu has fallen into the control of rebel groups. Female Genital mutilation (FGM) is a widely practiced custom and women’s rights are the ultimate forfeiture at the hands of strict Sharia law imposed by extremist groups like Al-Shabaab.
After discovering his work and building a friendship with Abdul, I have grown to not only appreciate his cartoons and their important messages but also the kind, gentle, caring and highly educated man he is. I am proud to be featuring his women’s rights related editorial cartoons in “50 Women” and to introduce him to the rest of the world. Abdul reminds us that we cannot overlook Somalia and especially Somali women. His art simply must be seen and understood.
I managed to catch up with him and ask him a few questions:
When did you begin drawing editorial cartoons?
As a little boy growing up a war-torn country I started making drawings to understand the complicated situations. After posting some graphics on the walls of Mogadishu with peace messages I was invited to publish my work in local newspapers. I continued my cartoons and was threatened by the warlords and radical groups who are the ruling majority of my country. Sadly I could not remain in Somalia. I ended up in exile in Egypt because of their contents and criticism of rebel groups. After 6 years I became a guest cartoonist in the wonderful country of Norway. My good fortune encouraged me to continue my work without fear and more importantly, without silence.
Why did you choose this kind of art?
I prefer cartooning because I feel that each cartoon is more than just art. They depict important messages to people about the situation in my country. Cartoons are important in a country like Somalia because there is a high rate of illiteracy. This way people who cannot read can enjoy the humor and messages the cartoons reveal.
What is your hope for Somalia?
I wish Somalia to have peace and freedom since my people have suffered for decades. I will never give up defending our human rights. I will defend them with my pen each time I draw.
To view his full portfolio click here.
To view other work by artists in Hargeysa, Somalia, visit Afrikanation