The awe-inspiring works of Amin Amir, Somalia’s undisputed cartoonist, speak louder than words. Before Somalia descended into chaos almost two decades ago, Amin’s work played great role in the dissemination of revolutionary propaganda that were the hallmark of the fallen military regime. Upon Somalia descending into its current ungovernable state, Amin transformed his nature of drawings into a more structurally defined art of criticism that came to greatly affect many heinous warlords, ineffective leaders, merciless and coldblooded assassins, and tribal hegemons with varied negative intentions. A devoted defender of the rights of the poor, his characterization of political misfits continues to inspire millions of displaced Somalis who have been driven from their homes. On the contrary, he has been called names, threatened, and insulted by parties and individuals who feel his premeditated artwork depictions as being the cause of their miserable failures and gross miscalculations.
Criticism in the form of a cartoon is a healthy way of establishing the causes of political miscalculations and a viable alternative to deliberating the causes of crime and lawlessness, transgression, anarchy, unprofessional conduct, and a plethora of social ills bedeviling a nation like Somalia. However, among Somalis, criticism is an indication of provocation and must be contained at all cost.
Amin’s exemplary creativities have angered many loquacious rulers of cantons and sword-wielding mullahs in a divided Somalia. Arguably, not everyone can become a cartoonist overnight; it is a talent and knowledge that can be learned. It requires methodical brainstorming, time and effort, and philosophical and logical thought to characterize an entity into a definite picture so as to capture the attention of a broader audience.
In the meantime, we learn that the valued cartoonist is training his young son in the art of cartoon making. Sounds a great idea because, we need more people in this field in times of war and peace. I would also suggest Somali female students whether in the Diaspora or in Somalia give a thought and reflect on the importance of this treasured art for the future of the Somali nation. Those who have access to the internet should consider taking lessons online. In the long run Amin Amir will prevail in his cartoon war-a war that calls for more united cartoonists whose only weapon will be paint, brush, and paper.