FIRST CITIZEN: Jacob Zuma performs a ritual to appease his ancestors before the ANC elective conference in Mangaung next month.

KwaZulu-Natal - The beer was plentiful and the meat shared among 2 000 of President Jacob Zuma’s guests at a ritual to appease his ancestors at his Nkandla home on Sunday, but the media were initially not welcome.

A Mercury reporter was manhandled and his notebook was torn by bodyguards, who then asked police to escort him off the premises. Other journalists left hastily as a result.

Zuma’s family held the event, for which the president donned a traditional leopard skin outfit and carried a spear and shield, to pray that he wins a second term as ANC president at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung.

Zuma is expected to face a challenge from his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the critical conference next month.

“If someone wants a job, they need to pray and appease the ancestors,” said Zuma’s brother, Michael.

“We wish that the Nxamalala [Zuma clan name] ancestors accompany him and give him luck as he goes to the elective conference.”

About 2 000 relatives and guests from various parts of KwaZulu-Natal, including Durban, Impendle, Msinga and Pietermaritzburg were bused to the prayer meeting. Others travelled from as far as Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The ritual involved the slaughter of 12 cows since Friday and entering the family kraals, asking the ancestors to shower Zuma with luck.

Inkosi of the Nxamalala clan, Bhekumuzi Zuma, said the ritual was to give the president power to overcome any struggle. “We are asking forefathers to be with their child.”

A walkabout was conducted from the inkosi’s home, about 5km away from Zuma’s homestead, where traditional incense – impepho – was burnt as a symbol of communicating with ancestors.

From the inkosi’s house, Zuma walked to his home, leading his family, relatives and Zulu warriors.

Among the guests was Nkosi Nkomo, 19, who travelled about 100km from Greytown to Nkandla to wish Zuma luck for a second term. “He is unlike our past presidents, who were boasters,” he said. - Daily News