The 2nd edition of “CARTOON AFRICA INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL (CAIB) festival” hosted by the Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Center, in Benin City, Nigeria, has been described by pundits, social science cum art critics and other stakeholders as a potential catalyst for social reengineering, public awareness and behavior changes across Africa and the rest of the world.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that you have done to bring together international cartoonists here in Benin City, and it’s the hope that you get increasing support for this particular event so that you can hold it continually”, said an American, Professor Jean Borgatti, at the CAIB festival exhibition opening penultimate Thursday.
The CAIB festival seeks to explore how  Art, in synergy with allied fields/professions,  can provide ANSWER to a wide variety of issues and concerns in favour of Africa’s sustainable development and productivity while professionally researching, showcasing, promoting, rewarding excellence in the use of cartoons and graphic humour to address issues of public interest, in the context of public education.
Every other year, since 2012,  visual journalists , artists of talent and culture practitioners across Africa and  other parts of the world meet in Nigeria -through their  comedic Art – to draw attention to, and spread awareness on,  some  vital social, political, economic, cultural issues and concerns in favour of Africa’s development, global peace and progress. Over 130 artists- press cartoonists, illustrators, photographers, cartoon animators, etc, from over 20 countries of the world participated in the 2nd edition of CAIB festival, 2014, which opened in Benin City on Thursday November 27, 2014.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Daniel Eromosele, speaking at the event penultimate Thursday, observed that “…it’s a project that we all need to support because it’s a brand new one in the area of art especially, and we in the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, we always want to encourage anything that we know can encourage and uplift the image of our country, the image of our tradition, anything that can bring peace and unity to our existence. So, I think that through these cartoons we can preach peace, we can do so many things for the development of our society. So, I see it as a program that every one of us has to encourage so that people can now begin to see it like other cultural activities happening in Nigeria.”
On her part, the Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, and chairman of the occasion, Honourable Aanena Jemitola, during her address, went down memory lane to recount how cartooning shaped lives, characters and opinions. She said, “I have already had a look at the exhibition inside, and I must say it is an eye-opener; … Cartoons are almost extinct in Nigeria today, and I know a lot of us grew up on cartoons. You know, that was the days when children actually believed in cartoons, when children actually lived cartoons. Cartoons then were cartoons that shaped our lives. Even in the newspapers- I remember when I was old enough to read newspapers, I usually went to the cartoon page first, and from the cartoon page you also learn about what is going on in the country- the social problems, the economic problems, …so, even if you were not old enough to appreciate those problems, but at least it was already forming in your mind and you have ideas of what the world was holding in forth for you.
“It’s apt that it is titled “AFRICA OF THE FUTURE”, and I must say, with good cartoons we can have Africa of the future we all dream of…” the Commissioner said.
Mr. Ighoroje Aaron, a social critic, commented after touring the exhibition, that “ I think there is much work to be done in Africa…Sad at our current stage, we are kind of far behind…May God help Africa.” However, for Miss Cherry Ise, “Well, I think  the artistic work and pictorial illustrations here are natural and appeals to the average man or average Nigerian and interpretes the world around us”; and for Mr. Brown Ndukwe, all were “beautiful works, nice concepts; first of its kind in Benin, Edo State.”
The curator of the National Museum, Benin City, Mr. Theophilus Umogbai, also aired his mind: “This is great…this is great. I’m greatly impressed. Please make sure all these works are well documented in catalogue form. That is the only way more people will get to know and benefit from the wealth of information here. This clearly promotes cross cultural dialogue”.
Since the pilot edition of the CAIB festival in November,  2012, Mr. Umogbai and his enthusiastic staff at the National Museum, Benin City, have been very supportive of the CAIB project in kind by hosting (as well as participating in) the Jury selection exercises.
Other pioneer partners and supporters include the WHITE SPACE, Ikoyi, in Lagos State, who hosted the pilot CAIB exhibition in Lagos in 2012; the Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, host of the ongoing 2nd edition of CAIB festival; Hill Communications (Canada), sponsors and managers of the CAIB official website; National Gallery of Art (NGA) Benin City outstation, who handled exhibition mounting logistics; Muse Concepts Artmosphere Ltd, etc. Media partners of the project so far include the Global Free Press (Canada), the NIGERIAN OBSERVER Newspapers (Nigeria), Vanguard Newspapers (Nigeria), MediaBFI (Nigeria) and Horizon International (USA).
Already, as integral part of the CAIB project in addressing the water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in Africa in the context of the United Nation’s post – 2015 Development Agenda,  MediaBFI and Horizon International have collaboratively produced a special Youth engagement advocacy comic book series entitled “Schoolchildren Battle Malaria and Other Diseases” which was also exhibited at the 2nd cartoon Africa Int’t Biennial Festival and is now being freely distributed worldwide. . It is available on the Horizon International Solutions Site at and on the MediaBFI Blog:
*YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: To secure a better future, today’s young people should not only be seen, but they MUST be heard. By involving and building capacity of African youths in the post-2015 development agenda, in the production and dissemination of information education communication (IEC) materials, editorial cartooning, comics, multimedia/new media cartoon animation audiovisuals, visual journalism, etc,  in information and news sharing through social media, print/online media, etc,  CAIB  strategically targets media innovation, paradigm shift, productivity and moral capital development  for Africa’s future leaders.
“WASH 4 ALL” (water, sanitation and hygiene for all) comic book series and short animated cartoon videos are being produced by Horizon International, an NGO based at Yale University, New Haven, CT, in collaboration with the media service of Beautiful Feet International (MediaBFI), a non-profit organization based in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. The comics are being created to positively engage youths in the fight against diseases related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
The 12-page colored comic book, draws upon the content of Horizon’s book and its accompanying DVDs, “\t “_blank”Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment Challenges, Interventions and Preventive Measures.”
It was completed with comments and reviews from several of that book’s 59 authors, experts from the fields of public health, medicine, epidemiology, environmental health, climate change, environmental engineering, and population research. The book was published by Wiley-Blackwell in collaboration with Horizon International in November 2011.
The comic book, “Schoolchildren Battle Malaria and Other Diseases,” was created and designed by Francis Odupute, initiator and curator of the CAIB festival, and his MediaBFI team in Nigeria. Francis U. Odupute is Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International and an artist for Horizon International, USA.
This is the first edition of a planned 12 part series entitled “WASH 4 All.” Young boys and girls of school age in developing countries where WASH culture is relatively very poor, the health implications of which takes its toll on the lives and education of these children, are the main audience. The audience not only includes youths aged 7 to 19, but also those in their early adulthood.
“Parents, schoolteachers, and community-leaders and health care workers through the entire world who can use the comic as a learning tool, are also part of our audience,” said Odupute. “They all play strategic roles in WASH education efforts.”
As Odupute says, “Cartoons and comics are a unique art form and powerful information, education communication tool for public education and behavioral change, especially among youths. Working together with Horizon International has given us the opportunity to apply our talents to help youth especially in countries where the need for greater understanding of the importance of WASH is greatest. And to thus engage youths to tackle WASH challenges in the spirit of securing their future.”
“Through the comic book,” says Janine M. H. Selendy, Chairman, President and Publisher of Horizon International, “we employ simple stories with powerful graphics to convey complicated health concerns, devastating health problems destroying childhoods and killing millions of children, and to provide some examples of preventive measures that can be taken by families, schools, and communities.”
This first comic book focuses on malaria and touches on other water-related diseases.
In the school of Dan and Ann, “somewhere in a remote part of Africa,” their classmates are suffering from the symptoms of and dying from malaria. In one of its informative side bars, the comic book states: “Malaria is a dangerous disease caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, a disease vector, Every year, over 600,000 people die from malaria…especially children under 5 and pregnant women in tropical Africa. 3.4 billion people, almost half the world’s population is at risk.”
“Every minute a child dies from malaria, according to World Health Organization (WHO),” says Selendy.  “Meeting WASH needs is vital to the health and well-being of everyone. We will focus on various diseases while building on the knowledge of what can be done to prevent them.”
“An estimated 2.4 to 2.6 billion individuals lack access to any type of improved sanitation facility according to the WHO,” says Selendy. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of the developing world, more than 35 % of the world’s population lack access to adequate sanitation. And, poor sanitation and hygiene are inextricably linked to water quality.”
“With roughly 884 million people lacking access to an improved water supply, water that is protected from outside contamination, in particular from contamination with fecal matter, 1.2 billion individuals are exposed to water-related illness from their drinking water.” Selendy adds.
“The lack of this most fundamental service contributes to an estimated 1.87 million annual deaths due to diarrhea- more than 90 % of which are in children under 5 years of age,” writes Jay Graham, Assistant Professor and Director of the MPH in Global Environmental Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in the book, “Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment: Challenges, Interventions and Preventive Measures.”
“The magnitude of health problems caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene are so immense that most people have difficulty grasping the consequences. For example, diarrhea remains the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age globally, and nearly one in five child deaths, around 1.5 million a year, is due to diarrhea.  This equates to the death of one child every 15 seconds, meaning more than 4,000 child deaths every day, and exceeds the death rates from such killer diseases as malaria and tuberculosis according to the World Bank.”
The late Dr. Lee jong-wook when he was Director-General of the World Health Organization, expressed the importance of addressing water and sanitation so well when he wrote,
“…once we can secure access to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people, irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won.”
“The focus of the second edition of the WASH 4 All comic book series will focus on the sensitive, often neglected, subject of open-defecation,” Odupute said.
“While six billion people worldwide have mobile phones, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation, according to UN figures,” said Selendy. “In addition, 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open.”
Media are invited to announce and provide PDF copies and links to sources where the comic book can be downloaded. It is available on the Horizon International Solutions Site at and on the MediaBFI Blog:
The “WASH 4 ALL” comic books, other free comics, cartoons and more information about the Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB) festival can also be freely downloaded from their official website:
Sponsors are also urgently needed, locally and internationally,  to sustain the project.