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NANDA SOOBBEN (article first published : 2007-08-7)

Internationally recognised graphic artist, muralist and political cartoonist Nanda Soobben has scooped three impressive awards, the latest triumphs in a career that has spanned more than 27 years.

Nanda Soobben is based in Durban and his work is widely admired by readers of Independent Newspaper publications among many other publications around the world. In July, he was awarded a Special Congressional Recognition Award at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco. He also received an Amnesty International Award for “speaking the truth through the power of cartoons”, as well as a Certificate of Honour from the Mayor of San Francisco for “showing leadership through his work”. The title of Nanda’s exhibition was Cartoonists Don’t Lie We Only exaggerate the truth.

As the only published black political cartoonist during the apartheid period, this Durban born and bred personality has come a long way since winning a drawing contest at the age of nine and transforming walls at Clairwood Boys’ High.

When he found his anti-establishment work could not be featured in mainstream newspapers in South Africa, Nanda moved to the US where he studied computer animation at the Parsons School of Design in New York and completed an internship at the San Francisco Art Institute. While studying in New York, he was a member of the prestigious New York-based Cartoon and Writers' syndication.

Solo exhibitions of political cartoons in New York and Brazil and in Durban led to wide acclaim, as well as the commissioning of a peace mural in New York, featured on ABC-TV, and a mural for the United Nations Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Closer to home, his 150 square metre mural depicting sports heroes dominates the Wheel Shopping Centre.

The quietly-spoken satirist is the author of two books of cartoons, The Wizard of HOD and the recently released Witness to a Decade. The first, a scathing exposè on the former House of Delegates, is now a collector's item and is part of the African Library Collection of the Smithsonian Institute Museum.

In 1994, Nanda Soobben established CFAD (Centre for Fine Art, Animation and Design), an art school in the Durban CBD. The school trains artists in fine art, animation and graphic design, as well as providing previously disadvantaged students access to the latest technology in these fields. He is currently a featured sports cartoonist in The Mercury, and a political cartoonist with Post. His incisive, humorous work is syndicated to nearly 200 newspapers worldwide, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.




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