The humorous aspect of corruption: A masterclass in Angolan satire

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Angola grew to become the centre of worldwide media curiosity final month, following the publication of the so-called “Luanda Leaks“. Based on a trove of leaked emails and different paperwork obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the investigation revealed how Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the previous president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, had exploited authorities assets and connections to construct a multibillion-dollar empire.

The dos Santos household’s fortunes had been already beginning to shift within the southern African nation after its patriarch resigned the presidency in 2017, after 38 years in energy.

His anointed successor, Joao Lourenco, belongs to the identical get together, the MPLA, that has dominated Angola since 1975 – the 12 months its cadres secured independence from Portugal. But President Lourenco was quickly straying from his predecessor’s script, stripping the dos Santos clan of its management of numerous state-owned firms.

Some of essentially the most seen modifications to happen below Lourenco have occurred in Angola’s media sector, which has lengthy been topic to heavy state management. Soon after taking workplace, Lourenco invited journalists who had been jailed below dos Santos to a press convention at which he paid tribute to their work and declared his dedication to press freedom. Since then, the indicators have been encouraging. While restrictive media legal guidelines handed by dos Santos haven’t, not less than thus far, been reversed, native journalists and worldwide press freedom teams be aware a rising tolerance for dissenting opinions within the Angolan public sphere.

In this local weather, one explicit type of dissent is flourishing: satire. The use of humour as a mode of social and political critique has deep roots in Angola: In the colonial period, as an illustration, track lyrics generally poked enjoyable on the Portuguese.

The Listening Post spoke to 2 of the nation’s most completed satirists – cartoonist Sergio Picarra and comic Tiago Costa – in regards to the function of humour as a type of political commentary and the altering state of press freedom in Angola.

“Satirising the rich, satirising the politicians, satirising the powerful – these are forms of social resistance to the aggressions we experience on a daily basis,” says Picarra.

Picarra skilled the repression of the dos Santos regime first-hand: In 1997, he was fired by the state-owned newspaper Jornal de Angola over a cartoon that was deemed too essential of the federal government.

“Almost the entire media was controlled by the state – television, radio, newspapers,” Picarra displays. “It was a very difficult period. You had to find symbols, metaphors and characters to portray people and situations.”

Tiago Costa, a comic with a pointy eye on Angola’s political panorama, started his profession in the direction of the top of the dos Santos period. For him, the change of presidents has had a dramatic impact.

“In the past, if you made fun of President Jose Eduardo, everyone would be against you,” Costa recollects.

“Today, in case you make enjoyable of President Joao Lourenco, persons are conscious that is all it’s – a joke.

Whereas below dos Santos, Costa’s comedy was confined to YouTube and the radio, he now has two tv reveals, Sopa Saber and Goza’Aqui com Vida. The programmes air on Vida TV, a station partly owned by Tchize dos Santos, one of many former president’s daughters. But, in an indication of how far issues have shifted, that has not stopped Costa from mocking her on air.

Picarra agrees that enhancements in press freedom are plain. But there’s, he emphasises, nonetheless a protracted approach to go. “It is not a complete opening,” he says. “The information that the public gets is still highly controlled.”

For Costa, satire has a job to play in pressuring the political class in the direction of better accountability, and away from corruption: “Satire should force our politicians to recognise their mistakes and learn from them. It might help us avoid producing another Isabel dos Santos. And if we manage that, it will be great.”

Produced by: Daniel Turi

Contributors:

Tiago Costa – Comedian and host, Sopa Saber

Sergio Picarra – Cartoonist and creator, Mankiko

Source: Al Jazeera News