SKETCH IT

Grant Staff’s po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist back­ground in Zim­babwe stands him in good stead

Highfields' Own - - Contents - BY JES­SICA KRAMER

the Zim­bab­wean car­toon­ist who is also a lo­cal min­ing en­gi­neer

At first glance, Grant Staff seems like any other min­ing en­gi­neer.

He lives in High­fields with his wife and chil­dren and goes to work at Acland Mine each day as an en­gi­neer. But there is more to this man than meets the eye. He is a tal­ented car­toon­ist, now us­ing his skills to il­lus­trate the se­ries of chil­dren’s books his kids in­spired him to cre­ate.

But years ear­lier, at the young age of 18, Grant worked for the Zim­babwe In­de­pen­dent News­pa­per as a po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist.

“I re­mem­ber see­ing a news story of how Robert Mu­gabe [the Prime Min­is­ter of Zim­babwe], in De­cem­ber 1999, had given him­self a raise on his of­fi­cial salary and then back­dated his pay for about six months,” says Grant.

“This bla­tant cor­rup­tion in­fu­ri­ated me so I sent the news­pa­per a pic­ture I had drawn of Robert Mu­gabe dressed up as Santa Claus with a bag of cash over his shoul­der,” he said.

“That Fri­day I picked up a copy of the pa­per and my draw­ing had been pub­lished with a news ar­ti­cle on the is­sue.

“Shortly af­ter that I got a call from one of the ed­i­tors ask­ing if I wanted to go on the pay­roll and do a weekly draw­ing for print.”

Be­ing quite young, Grant was ini­tially rel­a­tively obliv­i­ous to the po­ten­tial risk as­so­ci­ated with how his car­toons rep­re­sented the Prime Min­is­ter and other po­lit­i­cal fig­ures.

“One night, while at a mate’s bar­be­cue, we heard a loud bang some dis­tance away that sounded like an ex­plo­sion,” Grant ex­plains. “It turned out it was! “The Daily News had been bombed, al­legedly by govern­ment se­cu­rity forces.”

It sur­prised Grant, as the Daily News was a more mod­er­ate pa­per than his em­ployer, the Zim­babwe In­de­pen­dent.

“This is what fi­nally made me re­ally com­pre­hend the se­ri­ous­ness of the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion,” Grant says.

“Who knows, if I had stayed in Zim­babwe as a po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist I may have had a few en­coun­ters with the se­cu­rity forces.”

It was partly due to the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, but also chance that led to Grant mov­ing to Aus­tralia at 21.

“I came to Aus­tralia on a trav­el­ling hol­i­day af­ter fin­ish­ing school.

“At the time I knew noth­ing about the place but I fell in love with the coun­try from the mo­ment I got here.”

Grant’s mother vis­ited Toowoomba with him and was of­fered a job at the Toowoomba Hos­pi­tal.

By the time Grant re­turned to Zim­babwe af­ter ex­tended trav­els, he was in­formed his en­tire fam­ily were mov­ing to Aus­tralia as per­ma­nent res­i­dents.

These days Grant is found busy at Acland Mine, where he can eas­ily come home to his wife and two chil­dren each evening in High­fields.

He hasn’t been able to work fur­ther as a po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist at a news­pa­per, but is turn­ing his il­lus­tra­tive skills to chil­dren’s books.

“I have a tril­ogy planned ... I have the story lines worked out and I am cur­rently work­ing on char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment through con­cept art,” he says.

Grant plans to pub­lish the first book by Oc­to­ber next year.

This bla­tant cor­rup­tion [of the Zim­babwe Prime Min­is­ter] in­fu­ri­ated me so I sent the news­pa­per a pic­ture I had drawn of Robert Mu­gabe dressed up as Santa Claus with a bag of cash over his shoul­der — GRANT STAFF

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.