Man cannot leave by science alone. Art preserves the history, culture and traditions of a people. They see themselves, their ideals and even their future through the arts in their society. ~ Mustapha Bulama

 Born and raised in Kaduna to the family of late Major Bulama Biu, Mustapha grew up a favourite of his mother. As her last born, she never let him out of her sight. What Bulama was very good at however, even within his mother’s loving care was drawing. It was the one thing that came to him naturally. Despite his mother’s love him, he sometimes got in trouble with her as he always exhausted his drawing books in school, and distorted his notebooks with drawings too.

In 1998, straight out of secondary school as a graduate of the Kaduna Capital School, Bulama started working as a stringer cartoonist for Weekly Trust newspaper. At that tender age, he was the pioneer cartoonist for the now renowned newspaper.

Bulama was a natural at drawing, but with his young age and inexperience at that time, he did not have the maturity to do editorials or political cartoons, but rather started with comic strips. The Adventures of Bash and Biba, which he started with on the Trust papers, will go on to be a successful hit with readers.

In 2003, Bulama the artist was a student at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, studying Economics. This was a challenging time in his artistic career, trying to balance his passion of arts and studying in the world of Economics. The artist was in comatose for a while as Bulama stopped working for Daily Trust. He decided to choose the path of Economics and concentrate on his studies.

The creative path, is however one that cannot be eluded easily. Bulama returned to working as a cartoonist immediately after graduation from the University with the Desert Herald Newspaper.

At a time, the artist had a clash of his artistic inclination with certain interpretations of religious ideals as well as cultural practices. Bulama stopped drawing for a while, as he thought, his religion did not permit the reproduction of life images in any means. Later, he will come to realize, his religion is accommodating and always provides answers and exceptions. He knew what he was passionate about, what made him happy, and despite a few bumps here and there, he continued to strive for it.

Today, Bulama is not just a cartoonist, but also an all rounder artist. His works are no longer restricted to newspapers, but also cuts across computer graphic designs, illustration works with publishing companies and children books. Bulama’s driving force has always been his passion, despite being physically challenged.

When, President Muhammadu Buhari was contesting the 2015 General Elections, a burning issue was the unavailability of his primary school certificate. As a political cartoonist, Bulama was inclined to pass on his commentary in the way he knew how to do best. He illustrated a cartoon as such that was quite humorous and touching on the subject. in his first exclusive interview after winning the General Elections in Nigeria, President Buhari remarked on that cartoon by Bulama saying that Mustapha Bulama is a “…damn good cartoonist”. This for anyone will seem a proper validation of a job well done. Bulama is happy with the validation, but as a cartoonist, he always plays it safe. To him they are all politicians, and on a certain day he pleases them in the cartoons, they sing his praises, on another day, it might be another different tune entirely. But notwithstanding, Bulama the artist shall continue to draw and illustrate.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sada Malumfashi is a writer living in Kaduna. His works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in local and international magazines.

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