Patrick Gathara is a Kenyan journalist and political commentator who is also active as a political cartoonist. He is one of the best known pundits and opinion makers in his country, but his writings and drawings have also been published in the USA, Europe and the Middle East. Gathara is notable for his unusual technique. He draws primarily with pencil rather than use strong ink lines. The artist has furthermore done much to promote political cartooning in Kenya as well as the rest of Africa. The man organizes cartoon competitions and exhibitions on a regular basis. He was executive director of the Association of East African Cartoonists (2001-2010) and hosted the now defunct site Kenyatoons.com.

Life and career
Patrick Gathara was born in 1972. From a young age he enjoyed drawing and had an active interest in politics, but never considered a career as political cartoonist, since there were few newspapers in Kenya reaching the entire country. Instead he studied physics and math at the Nairobi University, but dropped out in 1996. Gathara decided to become a cartoonist and made illustrations for company newsletters for five years. Between 2001 and 2010 he became executive director of the Association of East African Cartoonists. In this function he organized exhibitions and competitions so he could both show his own cartoons as well as work by other talented artists. The plan worked and soon Gathara became a freelance cartoonist for The Daily Nation and The Star, two of Kenya's most widely circulating newspapers. He was furthermore the founder and webmaster of Kenyatoons.com and a member of the APCA (Amateur and Professional Cartoonists Association).

Controversy
Gathara hasn't shied away of organizing cartoon exhibitions about controversial topics, from gay rights to U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Kenya in 2015. His 2002 international cartoon exhibition 'Cartooning Terror' gathered cartoons about terrorism from more than 30 countries worldwide. He often encountered censorship, but always by the editorial board of the papers themselves, who wanted to avoid controversy, particularly since most papers are government-sponsored in Kenya. In 2009, for instance, Kenyan papers ran a story about a gay marriage in the United Kingdom. Gado made a caricature of Kenian President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga as a couple and stated: "Gay marriage is nothing new. We've had it for at least a year." His editors refused to publish it, but Gathara did make it public later on during one of his exhibitions. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta strongly disliked Gathara's cartoons, particularly the ones which depict him as a literal crybaby. On the other hand, former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi and Kenyan assistant minister Sharif Nassir - who were often caricatured too - were merely amused by his work.

Other activities
Since 2006 he host his own blog and since July 2008 his own Twitter account, where he discusses both international and national politics. His opinions are available on the Kenyan news site The Elephant too. His writings have been published in the Washington Post and appeared on Al-Jazeera too. Gathara is the author of 'Drawling the Line: The History and Impact of Political Cartooning in Kenya' (2004). 'Gathara Will Draw For Food' (2008) is a collection of his political cartoons. Part of the book's proceeds pledged to the Red Cross for famine relief.


Cartoon published on 7 July 2015, ridiculing the fact that many Kenyans are more outraged about gay rights than a then recent border dispute when Somalian al-Shabaab militants invaded Kenya and killed 14 people. 

gathara.blogspot.com

Series and books by Patrick Gathara in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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