The Nkandla Crooner is about to become a recording artist. The story might have had its genesis in the silly season when newspapers around South Africa scrabble for stories, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise given Jacob Zuma’s predilection for song and dance.
It’s difficult to forget the almost daily scenes outside the high court in Joburg for the second quarter of 2006 - scenes of him singing Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (Bring Me My Machine Gun) to scores of adoring fans, chief among them Zwelinzima Vavi and Julius Malema to the enduring delight of cartoonist Zapiro.
We had 10 years of song and dance - interspersed with giggles - during his presidency.
Now, though, the man who gave us state capture is about to be captured for posterity, possibly on vinyl for the hipsters, MP3 for the middle-aged and streaming for the youth - all paid for by eThekweni’s Parks, Culture and Recreation Unit as part of its celebration of Durban being named Unesco’s City of Literature in a bid to preserve the country’s heritage.
The deal was apparently struck at Nkandla, the former president’s homestead complete with fire pool that became a byword for mismanagement well before the Guptas had the temerity to land at Waterkloof.
As you might expect, the DA got itself into a froth both about the grant and the fact it wasn’t properly tabled, while the twitterati have had plenty to say, with the pithiest being author and motivational speaker Clive Simpkins: “Jacob Zuma must have chatted with R Kelly and realised he has all the qualifications required to be a music star.”
The announcement by South Africa’s serial Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo that it would collaborate on a couple of numbers with Msholozi sent the Twitterverse into more death spirals amid murmurs of consumer boycotts against the masters of isicathamiya.
Collaborations, though, aren’t new in this country; Karen Zoid has made a business model out of it while Mambazo have collaborated with a range of international stars from Dolly Parton to Michael Jackson, Josh Groban and, most famously, Paul Simon. Collaborating with uBaba ka Duduzane might, ironically, be truer to their roots than Graceland could ever be.
The timing though, of this is, if not contrived, certainly a little awkward for his successor - in the studio in April for a release in May and not September, which is Heritage Day.
May’s not just the month the rest of us go to the polls, it’s also the day that Zuma finally faces his day in court after more than 10 years of doing his damnedest to avoid it. It won’t be soon enough to raise enough funds for his legal war chest, but it will be more than enough time to show all his enemies a middle finger.
Once again, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma could well be living the meaning of his middle name: the one who laughs while physically hurting you.
Given his legal woes, though, perhaps he should have held out for a collaboration with Fokofpolisiekar.
* Ritchie is a media consultant. He is a former journalist and newspaper editor.
** The views expresed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.