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Friday, 8 June 2012

Cartoonist Davies Chapi dies aged 55

Social justice and developmental
cartoonist, Davies Chapi

By Andrew Mulenga
Social justice and developmental issues cartoonist, Davies Chapi was buried on Tuesday afternoon at Lusaka’s Chingwere cemetery.
Survived by wife Esnart, eight children and three grandchildren he passed away aged 55 at his Zingalume home last Saturday, in the early hours after a long battle with diabetes related complications that lead to heart failure.
Prominent among those who attended the funeral included his long time patron Transparency International Zambia Executive Director Goodwell Lungu as well as fellow cartoonist and civil activist Kiss Abrahams.
In an interview Lungu said Chapi was a committed artist and his passing on has left a big gap in the production of cartoons for social change, and that as TIZ they are going to miss him but hope they will meet him in heaven.
A traffic officer receives a
bribe from an overloaded truck
“I worked with him when founding the Perceiver, a kind of educational booklet that contained cartoons and comedy as well as educating people on issues of anti corruption, he was one of the founders” says Lungu “You see, the use of cartoons is an easy way to deliver anti-corruption and development messages because both the young and old are drawn to them.”
He says TIZ will continue to work with cartoonists and artistes such as comedians to get messages across and that this was the best way to honour the late Chapi.
In addition, Abrahams who had worked closely with Chapi on several projects since 2004 described the death of the artist as the loss of a resource and an opportunity to inspire young artists to explore social development art.
“I met him in 2004, because we were doing a project together for TIZ called the Perceiver Magazine. We got along from the start because he was a jovial man, the contact continued over the years and then recently we got this opportunity to do this cartoonists magazine, Flip” he says “There was also a project that USAID was doing in 2009 and they were looking for artists. I was too busy to take it up but Mr Chapi did.  It was quite a good job with an office and personal motor vehicle. But the day he was supposed to start work he fell terribly ill until the programme ended, so he missed out all together, this was one of his main regrets life.”
Abrahams later called on him for the ongoing Flip cartoonists’ magazine this year.
A traffic officer receives a bribe
from an overloaded truck
“We have been pairing up writers with artists and the process took up quite some time. We noticed it was taking its toll on him when he eventually stopped coming to the (Flip) office until Saturday when I received a call that he had passed on.” He explains.
Despite his swollen and aching feet, Chapi would travel the distance from Zingalume to Chelstone to take up his cartooning duties at Flip.
“What is interesting about his work as a cartoonist and an illustrator is that all of it was about social justice and developmental issues, almost strictly, he was an artist with a cause”, he says “And as a person he was a mentor figure who always had the coolest topics and jokes, sometimes lewd... but always with a lesson. He would always have the younger ones surrounding him and laughing, and you couldn’t even tell he was in pain.”
He says it is sad that Chapi dies a poor man in terms of economics, although rich in that he was able to do something that he enjoyed and was so passionate about. He says the death is once again a tragic and frightening reality with regards the welfare of artists in Zambia.
Chapi would often do his own conceptualisation, which is quite rare for an illustrator; he did this for a number of projects including several volumes of the 40-page, but now defunct Anti-Corruption Commission comic books.
Although he was an artist and sign painter his entire life, he spent much of his professional life as a truck driver for the Northern Cooperative Union, Lima Bank, the Ministry of Health and ZAMTAN Road Services Limited, which he joined as a footballer. He grew up in Kitwe but hailed from Chitulika village in Mpika

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