The Role of Humor in the Construction of Satire in Nigerian Political Cartoons

Iro Sani 1 *, M.H. Abdullah 1, A.M Ali 1, Abdullah F.S 1

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The communicative functions of humor and its visual power have made political cartoons an interesting research field across academic disciplines. The first decade of the Millennium has witnessed a considerable research on editorial cartoons. This increasing research demonstrates that editorial cartoons have successfully constituted a genuine genre within media discourse. Cartoons are used to express opinions, construct valuable arguments and provide specific knowledge on contemporary social issues. The goal of the genre is to provide political commentary, address crucial issues and criticize political leaders and their contemptible practices in an artful fashion. In a nutshell, the genre serves as a medium of political reporting articulating a particular message from a particular point of view using language as its prime tool. Given their contents mostly expressed through visual illustrations, political cartoons are best understood through investigation of incorporated visual rhetoric. This paper aims at unfolding the nature and function of humor in Nigerian political cartoons using theoretical perspectives of humor as method of analysis. To this end, content analysis was used to sort out contents of the cartoons. 35 cartoons texts were extracted from the two most prominent Nigerian newspapers namely: Vanguard and Daily Trust. The findings indicated that cartoonists use humor in Nigerian political cartoons to relive audiences of stressful situations and persuade them towards making opinion on contemporary issues in society. More specifically, Nigerian cartoonists manipulate aggressive and affliative humor styles purposely to construct criticisms pointed to political leaders and comment on current socio-political issues of the moment in order to initiate social and political reforms.


political cartoons visual rhetoric humor Millennium media discourse genre


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp. 148-165

Published Online: 24 Jul 2012

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