The famous South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro was made Wednesday 13 November knight of Arts and Letters by the French ambassador to South Africa. This medal had already been awarded to other artists of the country, William Kentridge and Johnny Clegg.

More known under the name of Zapiro, this cartoonist had been classified by Jeune Afrique magazine as one of the 50 most influential personalities of the African continent.

In his studio in Cape Town, he keeps everything. It is a drawing on the anti-apartheid movement that made it famous. "It was a stepping stone for my career, I tried to reproduce the excitement of belonging to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, and here you see, I drew the police into pigs. saw this, they came looking for me, and they asked me, 'Why are you drawing us pigs?' I replied that I drew what I saw, they put me in solitary confinement, "he describes.

A special bond with Mandela

Since then, he has published 28 books and caricatured all political figures. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is his favorite: "I had the idea to use Mandela's face, instead of the rising sun, to symbolize renewal."

The artist had a special relationship with Mandela. But the presidents who followed did not all appreciate his sense of humor. Jacob Zuma hates being represented with a shower over his head. "He was asked what he did to protect himself after he had a consensual sexual relationship with an HIV-positive person. shower to reduce the risk of infection, so I began to draw a shower over her head and this idea was a success I never imagined, "says the cartoonist.

Several times sued, Zapiro never let himself be intimidated. He continues to denounce the abuses of the post-apartheid society: "Sometimes people ask me if I could work in another country, of course, and I have already done so. much more flexible than we think. "