Vol. 33 No. 2 (2024): Nordic Journal of African Studies
Special Issue: Time and Imagined Futures in Eastern African Art Forms, edited by Alex Perullo, Claudia Böhme, and Christina Woolner

Marco Tibasima’s Cartoon Representations of the Education Crisis in Tanzania

Deo S. Ngonyani
Michigan State University

Published 2024-06-19


  • cartoons,
  • cognitive metaphors,
  • visual metonymy,
  • visual metaphors,
  • Tanzanian education

How to Cite

Ngonyani, D. S. (2024). Marco Tibasima’s Cartoon Representations of the Education Crisis in Tanzania. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 33(2), 134–156. https://doi.org/10.53228/njas.v33i2.1221


This paper examines the cartoons of Marco Tibasima, which portray the education system of Tanzania as dysfunctional and heading towards a bleak future. Through cartoons published in Habari Leo, NGO booklets, and on his blog, Tibasima provides a diagnosis of the ailing education system in Tanzania. Drawing on conceptual metaphor theory, this study identifies different elements of metaphors and metonymy in his cartoons. The cartoons included depict crowded and dilapidated classrooms, inadequate resources, an obsession with exams, the abuse of students, and demoralized and overworked teachers. Since education prepares people for the future, the paper argues that concern for the quality of education is essentially a concern for the future. The commentary implicitly invites the reader to imagine the consequences of the current state of Tanzanian education. Although the critical cartoons do not present programmatic proposals, they are very forward-looking and include an early warning. 


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