Sunday, January 10, 2010

A man in touch with his origins

Zuma: A man is still a man

Watching a video of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma snapping his feet on the ground, shaking his head in a joyful frenzy, kicking out at imaginary ghost enemies and lumbering like a flagpost, back-first, into a coterie of his seated tribesmen, amid cheers from his charmed and gawking visitors, I was amused by a very satisfied man, confortable and in charge of his dates with destiny. As his skin-skirt touched the ground, a 'village warrior comrade' jumps into the fray to jestily 'admonish him, find out how he fares, and inquire of this man, whose spirit has been felled by the charms of his new bride.' He was introducing his bride to 'elders and ancestors,' a BBC report says, and is still engaged to another future bride, a woman from Durban.

A president with unfettered access to all of the sartorial fineries of the world, but still cloyed in 'traditional bull fats' and dressed in strips of leopard skin, doing a jig on a grassy patch at his former Black reserve village is very gripping indeed.

A self-educated man (some say that is the best way in life), who bats his eyelids and takes two days off to marry a fifth wife, half a year into his leadership of Africa, in broad daylight, does not only strike me as a wise man who knows a thing or two more about life than his hollering detractors, it fills me with wonder about why Obama has to holiday with the whole White House in Hawaii.

What does Obama do, that is not on Zuma's role profile? Global Policeman? But the US has many more professional defense gurus, more specialist departments for specialized action, more tools of analysis and levels of permission, implying, to my mind, less need for presidential action. Further, Obama is far more formally educated, which means he should multitask better, without a full office on holiday. Or does formal education count for nothing in the management of humanity? If you ask me to choose between being Zuma or Obama, you know where my loyalties would go, to my African chief. I am sorry for my nephew from K'Ogelo. A man cannot enjoy a day off, to dance to the drums and jingles of his ancestors? What sort of job is this American Presidency? Freedom and Pursuit of Happiness, indeed!

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