Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Peter Kimani

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Joseph Nyanoti


Graduate School of Media and Communications


Editorial cartoons form a key part of newspapers, offering much-needed comic relief to acres of news stories. Godfrey Mwapembwa, popularly known by his pen name Gado, has been described by the Financial Times as East Africa’s most important syndicated cartoonist. Yet no extensive scholarly study has been done on the way Gado frames his drawings. This study analysed how politics, politicians and political issues are framed in Gado’s editorial cartoons by looking at his illustrations published by The Standard between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019. It starts with a brief look at modern trends in editorial cartoons. The study was guided by three objectives: (i) to determine the main characters and symbols in Gado’s political cartoons; (ii) to analyse the dominant themes in Gado’s political cartoons, and; (iii) to analyse the framing of politics, politicians and political issues in Gado’s political cartoons. To answer the research questions, guided by the framing theory, the study collected 60 cartoons through a systematic random sampling technique and employed a thematic analysis to understand and interpret the data. By executing a framing analysis of select cartoons, this study found that characters, symbols and words –the main elements used by Gado to frame the messages in his illustrations- help advance and push the boundaries of press freedom in saying the unsayable and writing the unprintable in a way no other media can do and in ways that are more provocative than in traditional media. The study also concluded that Gado’s interpretations of news events deepen and extend newspaper readers understanding of news developments and that by use of simple lines, words, characters and symbols, cartoonists effectively breakdown and communicate complex developments for the masses.