It will be mu­sic to the ears when Zuma goes, but not when Clegg bows out

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - KEVIN RITCHIE

ON Tues­day night, it felt like the en­tire coun­try was watch­ing the vote of no con­fi­dence play­ing out in Par­lia­ment. It might have been aus­pi­cious for nu­merol­o­gists, the eighth one against Ja­cob Zuma in the eighth year of his ten­ure in the eighth month of this year.

Per­haps he is the cat with nine lives.

The di­vin­ers, be­liev­ers and plot­ters were out in force al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter- wards try­ing to find out just who the ANC turn­coats were, who, in the great­est of ironies, voted ac­cord­ing to their con­science as the Speaker – who is also the party chair­per­son – had en­joined them when she granted the House a se­cret bal­lot on the de­bate.

Zuma, by his own ad­mis­sion, will be out come De­cem­ber at the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence, but he’s got a mighty le­gal bat­tle ahead of him be­fore­hand; the op­po­si­tion DA’s try­ing to dis­solve Par­lia- ment and force a gen­eral elec­tion, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court has to de­cide whether there are grounds to im­peach him, and then there’s still the is­sue of the 783 cor­rup­tion charges, which the DA has asked to be re­in­stated forth­with.

On Wed­nes­day, he went to Kim­ber­ley to com­mem­o­rate Women’s Day where he ap­peared typ­i­cally un­fazed by the rigours of the night be­fore, his only re­mark of note be­ing that men who at­tack women should be pros­e­cuted.

Fast for­ward to Wed­nes­day night and Johnny Clegg was bid­ding farewell to the faith­ful at Mon­te­casino’s Teatro.

Clegg’s a white man, whose friends in a very for­eign world of Joburg’s Yeoville were do­mes­tic ser­vants. They were mostly il­lit­er­ate. They taught him to speak isiZulu like them, with all the bawdi­ness of young men. They taught him to play maskandi gui­tar and the street ac­cor­dion.

Clegg is as proudly cul­tur­ally Zulu as Zuma.

In fact, there are prob­a­bly more photos of Clegg in loin skins and rat­tles hold­ing a shield in one hand and a kierie and an as­segai in the other than there are of the pres­i­dent in the same re­galia.

He’s proud of his fam­ily, as Zuma is of his.

On Wed­nes­day night, Clegg came on for an en­core to play Asim­bo­nanga, per­haps the best known and most sto­ried of his three decades of work. It’s an­other song that was banned, but be­came an an­them for the Strug­gle, a litany of those like Nel­son Man­dela – and Zuma – im­pris­oned on Robben Is­land, but also all those who were killed in de­ten­tion by the apartheid regime.

Above the stage, video footage cut from Robben Is­land and pic­tures of Man­dela and oth­ers as pris­on­ers to Clegg per­form­ing Asim­bo­nanga in France only to be joined on stage by Madiba. Man­dela was lively and jovial as we all re­mem­ber him, hug­ging Clegg.

The last two mem­o­ries I have of Zuma with Man­dela are the 2010 World Cup and his sick bed in Houghton. In both, Man­dela is a husk of the gi­ant he was – po­lar op­po­sites of the man in the video.

To­day, the gov­ern­ment shouts white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal and white priv­i­lege and the new in­tel­li­gentsia sneer at what they de­ride as “Rain­bow­ism”, where cul­tural di­ver­sity and ap­pro­pri­a­tion are to be frowned upon and dis­cour­aged.

On the back of my con­cert T-shirt is a list of the gigs Clegg still has to play as he bids his fans good­bye. There’s the UK, Europe, North Amer­ica, Aus­tralia. There’s even a stop in Dubai. If the cyn­ics are to be be­lieved, Dubai’s high on the pres­i­dent’s list too.

The show fi­nally ends with the words, “Where did the time go? Where did my life go?” It’s a ques­tion we could all be ask­ing our­selves.

As the crowd sings “Bye, Bye, De­cem­ber African Rain”, it sounds eerily like an omen.

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