CPAID Comics

Creativity with a purpose

A six-part series of graphic comics on public authority across Africa, CPAID Comics presents research findings from long-term ethnographic fieldwork in new ways and for new audiences. Based on work conducted in Uganda, South Sudan, the DRC, and Sierra Leone, the series uses real-life stories to show how different, and often competing, public authorities affect people’s everyday lives.


These stories are rarely visible in international media reporting on Virunga national park, which generally focus on the wildlife and the rangers, but not the daily realities of people living close to the park.


Hazard Pay: The comic is based on research in Freetown, Sierra Leone, during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic. Sierra Leone was considered an epicentre of the epidemic and declared a state of emergency, with a large-scale humanitarian intervention proceeding to change many aspects of day-to-day life. Comic artist Didier Kassai has collaborated with FLIA researcher Dr Jonah Lipton to illustrate how front-line workers in Sierra Leone experience emergencies.


The breakdown in mass drug administration for bilharzia: Ugandan artist Dianah Bwengye collaborated with researcher Gloria Kiconco to illustrate why mass drug administration in Uganda failed to adequately control schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in many areas. The cartoon contextualises issues raised by district health officers and local communities on health control programmes, following a trip to Jinja, on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, and Pakwach in the Uganda’s northwest.

Vigilantism and public authority: Illustrated by Kenyan comic artist Victor Ndula, the comic illustrated some of CPAID's cutting-edge research on issues of public authority, vigilantism, policing and public justice in Uganda. Based on real events, the comic asks: what happens when a town tries to fight crime using vigilantes? 

A poisoning in Palabek: Created by Ugandan cartoonist and comic artist Charity Atukunda, A Poisoning in Palabek is based on 12 months ethnographic fieldwork conducted among South Sudanese refugees living in Palabek Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda. Based on real events, the comic asks: what happens when refugee communities and those who are tasked with protecting them have differing opinions about what constitutes a threat?

Making Ends Meet around Virunga: Illustrated by comic artist and based on real events, the comic depicts how people living near national parks struggle to earn a livelihood faced with crop destruction by wildlife, armed conflict and competition between different authorities, including park rangers and rebel groups.

Peace and politics in South Sudan: Created by comic artist Tom Dai, the comic explores what repetitive peace meetings in South Sudan mean for public authority in the country, and the potential for actors to use peace meetings to cement their authority and suppress opposition.