With his new cartoon, award-winning artist Bright Ackwerh is standing up to an economic superpower.
Ghanaian artist Bright Ackwerh has published another cartoon as part of an ongoing campaign against illegal mining, commonly known as galamsey.
The new cartoon, which was posted on Thursday April 20, comes after the Chinese embassy in Ghana expressed its displeasure at what it describes as defamatory cartoons against Chinese officials.
The first cartoon, posted on April 4, depicted the Chinese ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong, happily showing off a gold bar to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping while he serves Ghana’s president and minister of natural resources with muddy water from a traditional Chinese vase. However, beside Xi Jinping are two bottles of clean water.
The new cartoon titled, Them Threaten, features once again President Xi Jinping, Sun Baohong and President Nana Akufo-Addo. Latest addition is Bolo Yeung, a popular body builder and martial artist, the others are random Chinese characters.
“Bolo is from the 80s movie scenes and one of the most iconic Chinese film characters Ghanaians know because of the often scary character he portrayed in films like ‘Bloodsport’. So, when I use him here it is in appropriation of that on-screen character and how…that can be substituted for state controlled Chinese threat”, Ackwerh told Pulse.com.gh in an interview.
Chinese businessmen have been some of the major contributors of cash and equipment to illegal gold mines in Ghana. The media has over the last four months embarked on a strong campaign to force the government to clamp down on illegal small scale mining which has led to the pollution of many of Ghana's water bodies.
In a letter to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Chinese embassy suggested that bilateral relations between the China and Ghana could suffer if this was not done if Ghana’s government did not check the media.
“[The new cartoon] is in response to how the Chinese mission in Ghana reacted to the reportage on galamsey and their nationals’ participation in the act”, says the 2016 winner of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art.
Asked whether he would describe ‘Them Threaten’ as an act of defiance he said “[yes it is]. Defiance of their 'stern warning' to our government[and] ministry in charge of Land and Natural Resources. Or a defiance of their defiance to what is supposed to be common moral responsibility to Ghana, Africa and its people. But it just capturing what is actually going on... only in a humorous way.”
Ackwerh’s cartoons, a form of social commentary, has been praised by many ordinary Ghanaians.