Pres­i­dent should try ‘King Lear’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

PRES­I­DENT Zuma’s Youth Day state­ment took a sur­pris­ing an­gle, fo­cus­ing not on the state of the na­tion or the prom­ises of youth, but on his own ed­u­ca­tion.

Re­ject­ing the claims of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, he stated: “I de­cided to ed­u­cate my­self.”

Many fa­mous fig­ures in his­tory are “au­to­di­dacts”, but the pres­i­dent is not one of them.

He pro­ceeded to quote, some­what in­con­sis­tently, the great sym­bol of colo­nial­ist cul­ture, Shake­speare, par­tic­u­larly from Julius Cae­sar and from Mac­beth, on the in­fa­mous Scot­tish tyrant.

The crowd scenes in the Ro­man play have po­ten­tial for di­rect rel­e­vance, since the mob is an­gry, volatile and eas­ily stirred up by Mark Antony’s pow­er­ful rhetoric. The par­al­lel with our own Julius is stark. The sec­ond quo­ta­tion was equally rel­e­vant, Mac­beth, be­ing a pen­e­trat­ing study of a hero’s de­scent into delu­sion and mean­ing­less­ness, cul­mi­nat­ing in the fa­mous “to­mor­row and to­mor­row and to­mor­row” speech.

The pres­i­dent or his pre­sumed ad­vis­ers might have used words more rel­e­vant to the cur­rent so­cial sit­u­a­tion, such as King Lear’s mag­nif­i­cent ex­pres­sion of em­pa­thy for the des­ti­tute: “Poor naked wretches that bide the pelt­ing (beat­ing) of this piti­less storm”. This is fol­lowed by Lear’s own sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and guilt: “Oh I have taken too lit­tle care of this!”

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