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President Jacob Zuma added yet another Mrs Zuma to his life this weekend in a private traditional wedding ceremony known as umgcagco at Nkandla.
Zuma’s fourth and latest wife, Umlazi businesswoman Bongi Ngema, has already settled in at the Nkandla homestead. Her rondavel is on the left of the centre of the Zuma homestead – close to the president’s heart.
She joins first ladies Sizakele Khumalo, Nompumelelo MaNtuli Zuma and Thobeka Madiba. Zuma has married six times.
The wedding took place a week after he celebrated his 70th birthday with a lavish party at Durban’s International Convention Centre.
The wedding was a low-key, family affair. The couple, who have been together for 11 years, have a seven-year-old son.
The 1 500 guests, who included 50 VIPs, were invited by word of mouth, despite Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj saying last week the ceremony was “by invite only”. They included ANC funder Vivian Reddy, Zuma’s friend Don Mkhwanazi, Deputy Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and former Msunduzi mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo.
On Friday, the Nxamalala village in Nkandla was a hive of activity. When the bride’s family arrived at the homestead they broke into song as they waited to be welcomed. The women and men wore colourful traditional Zulu regalia. The excitement among residents was palpable.
The media was barred from entering the Zuma homestead, with Zuma’s oldest son, Edward, allowing in only community members, family and close family friends. Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse arrived on a black Yamaha quad bike.
For the traditional ceremony the bride wore a red isicholo (Zulu headgear) with isidwaba (traditional skirt) and a red netted shawl covering her shoulders as a sign of respect.
Zuma wore leopard skins and carried a warrior’s shield.
For the reception Ngema wore a lilac dress.
A family member said more than three cows were slaughtered to feed the community. At the homestead three marquees were erected to accommodate residents who feasted on traditional food.
The reception, which began at 9pm, was held in a large marquee opposite Mnyakanya High School. The venue was draped in white, with chandeliers. The tables, draped in white and silver, were each decorated with simple bouquets.
Award-winning decorator Zwi Dumisa said the bridal couple had requested something elegant. “So we made them a throne on the stage to make them feel like royalty.”
She would not divulge how much was spent on the decor.
For starters, platters with vegetable spring rolls, cocktail samoosas, Greek meatballs and chicken nuggets were served. This was followed by a buffet of seafood, curries and traditional food. Guests helped themselves to roasted leg of lamb crusted with garlic, and roasted barbecue and herb chicken, while VIP guests had lemon and herb hake served with tartar sauce; oxtail curry with carrot and green beans, and samp and beans.
For dessert there was malva pudding with vanilla custard, assorted cheesecakes and fruit salad and ice cream.
There was an open bar.
Ukhozi FM DJ Linda Sibiya was the MC. He kept the guests entertained, alongside pianist Ray Zondi, who played all the president’s favourite Brook Benton songs.
Reverend Thami Shange advised the couple that marriage was not only a union of two people, but of families, friends and communities. “No public display of affection like the West. Build the Zuma home, Bongi. Respect your husband and he will love you and give you your heart’s desires.”
Zuma’s daughters, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla and Gugu Zuma-Ncube, welcomed Ngema into the family and said they looked forward to getting to know her better.
One of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s queens, MaMchiza, advised the bride to be obedient to her husband. “You come at a difficult time when the elections (ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung) are close and all eyes are on you.
“But don’t regret anything.
“Pray, especially when you are in a polygamous marriage, for his job, his finances, his wives, his affection, health, lust and his sexuality, and know that sex is the cherry on top. He needs to rest because he works hard,” she said.
The bridal couple cut the white three-tier cake and fed each other to a round of applause.
They thanked their guests for sharing their special day.
The bride said: “We have been together for 11 years and the reason we waited was because we were waiting for the right time.” She also thanked Zuma’s other wives for their support.
Zuma emphasised building a good family. “Family is very important, I have always valued family…
“I would like to thank my family, my wives, especially MaKhumalo, MaNtuli and kaMadiba, for the way they have welcomed MaNgema.”
He said respect and love were crucial in building a family. “We all need to appreciate building a family. Those who grow up in proper families grow up to be proper citizens.”
Looking into his new wife’s eyes, he said she could expect more wives. “those who came before you didn’t close the door on you and no one closed the door on them. So I expect you to do the same, MaNgema,” quipped Zuma.
The couple then shared their first dance, to American R&B singer R Kelly’s Step in the Name of Love.
Festivities ended with umabo, a traditional ceremony where the bride presents gifts to the groom’s family. - Sunday Tribune