Zuma. A Biography – Jeremy Gordin



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    Zuma. A Biography – Jeremy Gordin

    Post by Nico10 on Sat 12 Nov 2011, 8:42 pm

    While reading thru the pages of Zuma. A Biography, I could not help but feel an ambivalence towards the work in front of me. On the one hand, once has to congratulate the author. Zuma. A Biography is an amazing book with a lot to offer. It proves what it promises to be. It is not a detailed work on the life of president Jacob Zuma of South Africa. It does give an outline of Zuma’s life, but the main focus of this work is the controversies surrounding the trials of Jacob Zuma and his alleged corruption and rape charges. It also provides the reader with a unique perspective of the historical African National Congress (ANC) Polokwane conference of 2007, where Zuma stunned South Africa and the world’s liberal press by being elected as the presidend of the ANC. In that regard the book is a valuable contribution to South Africa’s body of literature on those matters. It is in different ways that this book is was disappointment to me.

    Could it be the power of hindsight? Could well be, for Zuma. A Biography, even though the work is valued by this reader, still remains a work that left me with some doubts. The book is very successful in that it portrays Zuma as an enigma. It was even more so in the days when this book was written, and Zuma was still the ‘newly elected’ president. It was exciting times, because the incoming regime left one with the impression new hope. Of course, for many South Africans, the change of regime was a scary thing. This had much to do with the way in which president Zuma was portryed by the media. This point is driven very hard by the author. It was in those days, the leader of the opposition, the honourable miss. Helen Zille, launched her ‘STOP ZUMA’ campaign. And Zuma was made to be some sort of freak with his anti-gay statements, his many wives and children, his statement that he took a shower to protect himself against HIV/AIDS after having unprotected sexual intercourse with a woman whom he knew is HIV positive and also Zuma’s ways of putting on his traditional Zulu garments and singing songs like ‘bring me my machine gun’.

    On has to give credit to Gordin for the way he puts the whole drama that unfolded around Zuma into perspective. What Gordin had to say about the press in South Africa goes a long way, especially in the light of the proposed media laws and the media tribunal. The simple truth is that we as South Africans still has a long way to go in order to understand each other better, and it is funny how somebody like John F. Kennedy can have multiple sex partners in the secret (only to be revealed much later) and is not portrayed as an animal like Zuma who openly married his many wives. This is very true, and mr. Gordin hits the nail on the head in that regard. However, time has taken his toll in this regard. Ever since Zuma has had his love child with the daughter of one of his friends, one cannot any longer deny that in many ways, president Zuma is a poor role model to the youth of South Africa in terms of the ways he performs sexually.

    But there is much more criticism that can be launched against this work. Is Zuma really fluent in English as the author suggests in the last chapter? Zuma often struggles to read his own speeches. He fails the country by not giving us clear answers. In fact, even though there is a lot that one can expects about the Zuma regime, there is also a great number of things that is a bitter disappointment.

    The liberal press failed South Africa in 2007 by not realising really how historic the Polokwane Conference was. It is not in the mould of African political parties to get rid of old leaders and democratically elect new ones. It is exactly this that the ANC achieved in 2007, but many many South Africans was so stereotyping the ANC that it was never acknowledged. But let us be downright honest here, Zuma recieved money from the convicted traitor Schabir Shaik, and what was the rationale for this?

    What more is there to say about Jacob Zuma? He is, in many ways a remarkable man. He never had the opportunity to go to school and learned himself to read and write. He is truly a fascinating South African, but despite the high hopes that there was for the incoming regime, it has failed the country miserably. Yes, maybe less so than the Mbeki regime did, but still.

    What we lack, most of all, is clear cut and dry leadership in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma has proved himself time and again incapable of this. We need a leader that can show us the way and can inspire us, and Zuma, although in some ways a great man, is simply not what many possibly expected.

    So was the liberal press all that wrong? I don’t think so. In bad taste? Yes. But all that mistaken? No. Nevertheless, Zuma. A Biography remains really a worthwhile book with lots of great information on the fascinating life of president Jacob Zuma of South Africa. If contemporary history is your point of interest, then read this book!

      Current date/time is Tue 18 Sep 2018, 8:50 pm