OBI: THE COMIC THAT’S GOING TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE COUNTRY
Obi’s Nightmare (La Pesadilla de Obi) is about Teodoro “Obi” Obiang, real life President of the resource-rich West-Central African country of Equatorial Guinea. In the graphic novel, artist Ramon Esono (also known as Jamón y Queso) and his collaborators ask what would be the worst nightmare of the rich, powerful, and corrupt leader of a poor, struggling African population? Becoming an ordinary citizen of his own country, of course! Hilarity and tragedy ensues as Obi navigates the education, health, and prison systems he created in Equatorial Guinea.
The Spanish-language text for Obi’s Nightmare is 50% complete and its artists are waiting for funds to purchase the material necessary to illustrate the book. We won’t be able to publish the book without your support, so please pledge generously and promote our project to your friends and colleagues.
Graphic novels are a powerful medium for story-telling and satire. They allow us to penetrate into spaces that conventional media, radio, and TV do not reach, especially in repressive societies. Through the fictional perspective of the comic, Jamón y Queso captures how unreal and absurd life in Equatorial Guinea can be. Up to now, most of Jamón y Queso’s vivid and superb work has only been available online or displayed in galleries, limiting his ability to reach his target audience: the people of Equatorial Guinea. Internet service inside the country is limited. By publishing his graphic novel on paper, citizens will be able to pick up a copy and see their country in a different way. This is more than a graphic novel: it is an educational tool to show the people of Equatorial Guinea a reality different than the one on display on state-owned television and radio.
Translation: Come on, let's be serious now please. By calling me a dictator, do you all think the country will change? I have what the international community wants. And you all attack me by calling me a dictator? My god! Do something a little more original. At this rate, I'll be able to organize 5 African Union summits, not even counting the ones my idiot son will organize...
Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea has a per capita income comparable to Germany and the UK, yet poverty is widespread and most people live without access to basic services like electricity, quality education, affordable healthcare, and running water. Meanwhile, President Obiang and his family own homes in Malibu and Paris, and his oldest son is under investigation in the US for buying $70 million worth of goods, including a private jet and Michael Jackson memorabilia. Recently, French authorities raided the Paris residence of the Obiang family, a 101-room building valued at $150 million. Obiang has ruled the country for the past 32 years and acquired a track record of human rights abuses, including torture, harassment of journalists and arbitrary arrests. All TV and radio stations are controlled by the state and the sole legalized opposition party has just one seat in parliament. Freedom of expression and association are severely limited by the government.
Despite this repression, there is a strong underground culture of artists, musicians, and writers who are critical of the status quo. Their work has won broad support among the population, especially younger Equatoguineans who admire underground hip hop artists and rappers. The government is generally more tolerant of critical artists than critical politicians and activists.
EG Justice, a non-profit organization that promotes human rights, democracy, and transparency in Equatorial Guinea, is collaborating with Ramon and a group of artists and social activists in Equatorial Guinea to produce and disseminate their first graphic novel, a sharp and witty social critique of a regime that continues to kidnap, torture, and assassinate its critics. In previous work, Jamon y Queso and his collective have exposed social and political problems in Equatorial Guinea and poked fun at their leaders, particularly “Obi”. Many of his Spanish-language political cartoons are available on his blog, http://laslocurasdejamonyqueso.blogspot.com/, and on the EG Justice blog, http://blog.egjustice.org/. Additional work in Spanish and French can be viewed and purchased on this site: http://jamonyqueso.info/
Translation: “They say I’m a rich president and why shouldn’t I be? Aren’t I the owner and absolute lord of a rich country? Weren’t my family and friends born in this rich country? Do I not write laws and give orders in a rich country? Don’t they like me overseas because my country is rich? It’s normal that I’m rich because I have given my life for this country. Don’t you think the abnormal thing would be if all of you, my compatriots, were rich without having done anything for your country? Don’t let our enemies who want to destabilize our environment of peace, glory, and harmony fool you
QUOTES ABOUT JAMON Y QUESO AND EG JUSTICE
“Jamon y Queso is an artist of and for his people. His work offers a razor-sharp critique of a regime that represses free political speech of any kind. He’s as brave as he is funny, and his work deserves a wider audience.” Molossus
“Transgressive, criticizing a failed system, but also with a place for dreams. That is the work of Ramon Esono Ebale, a comic book artist who shows his perception of the chaotic life of the country where he was born, Equatorial Guinea, through colorful cartoons that seem to be alive by telling stories of poverty, overcrowding, and dictators.” Guin Guin Bali
“EG Justice is unique in many ways. It is the only NGO focused solely on Equatorial Guinea and it has a genuine connection to the country and its people. In a very short time, it has become an authoritative and strong voice for a country that has been largely ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world.” Former US Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea
“EG Justice’s support has been vital for expanding my work and strengthening the connection between my art and the message of human rights. Art and culture are powerful agents for lasting change in society and EG Justice understands this.” Director of a theatre company in Equatorial Guinea
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