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Ndeshi & Jakes: Beyond the Cartoon

What comes to mind when you read or view work that is done by ‘anonymous’ or a pseudonym? Do you just leave it at that and carry on with your life, or do you actually try to imagine what ‘Anonymous’ looks like? If you have an active imagination you’d definitely have fun just ‘assembling’ Anonymous. Who they are, what they look like, their age, what they do when they are not trying to get everyone to guess who they are. Do they wear spectacles right at the tip of their nose? You get the point.

For the past two decades, the cartoon Ndeshi & Jakes featured in The Namibian newspaper became a part of our lives. From the jokes on marriage, economics, politics, and so on, Ndeshi & Jakes started conversations on societal issues that sometimes were a thorn in the flesh for most Namibians. But what do we know about the creator of one of the best known Namibian couple, albeit fictional?

The cartoon Ndeshi & Jakes first appeared in The Namibian newspaper on Friday, September 3, 1999, in black and white at the time, and 22 years later, the pair has become brighter, funnier and they continue to provoke conversations on national issues. Ndeshi and Jakes was created by a local cartoonist known only as Zila. The cartoon was created to show the daily challenges in the life of the middle class that many Namibians would relate with.

“When I started the cartoon, my drawings were ugly. And the whole idea was to show the life of this couple, Ndeshi, from Oshikuku, and Jakes, a mbwiti from Wanaheda. Over the years my craft has improved, and I have included jokes to appeal to a wider audience.”

The cartoonist explained that the process of making a single episode may take 5-6 hours from the initial idea to the finished product. Though some ideas come from observations, he sometimes includes jokes people send him. And it goes without saying that the cartoon has provoked debates, upset the soft-hearted, and angered some people. But at the end of the day, everything is taken with a joke and a pinch of salt.

Although Ndeshi & Jakes is only published in The Namibian newspaper, the cartoonist has worked and published with many publications and organizations, both locally and internationally. Some of which include the Electoral Commission of Namibia, Legal Assistance Centre, several government ministries, Project Hope, and the list is endless.

The middle-aged cartoonist has been drawing since a young age and has several qualifications in the arts of cartooning and drafting. Cartooning, he admits, has opened doors to many more opportunities. From Ndeshi & Jakes, the brand Kandeshi was born, which is the umbrella for so many other business ventures. Zila is more than just the brains behind Ndeshi & Jakes, he is also an independent businessman with many hats.

“I do graphic designing, publishing and printing, property development, investment managing, and have a micro-lending business too. Kandeshi Academy has been open for four years now but I’ve been training for much longer.” Zila said.

Most art is seen as a luxury by most people, hence several art forms are not taken seriously or viewed as important. Zila agrees that even though Ndeshi & Jakes was able to open many doors for him, it is not a career choice that would feed a family. 

“On its own, cartooning is not a career choice I would advise someone to do, but I have gotten many other opportunities through it. Now I use the popularity of the cartoon to help promote my other business ventures.”

For anyone wanting to become a cartoonist, reading extensively is a must. And to start drawing you only need basic things like a pen, white paper, eraser and pencil. That simple. The rest is creativity, imagination and more practice.

The brand Kandeshi houses multiple products and services and can be reached at: info@ndeshiandjakes.com, and for a daily dose of humor, Ndeshi & Jakes have joint Instagram Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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