ANC’s de­sire for po­lit­i­cal kitsch is bound­less

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

DE­SPITE re­ports that it will re­veal the “great­est de­tails” (and maybe more) of his con­tri­bu­tion to the ever-ex­pand­ing canon of rev­o­lu­tion­ary apoc­rypha, the pub­lish­ing houses re­main cu­ri­ously in­dif­fer­ent to Ja­cob Zuma’s threats that he is to shortly write his life story.

Per­haps they have their rea­sons, these beige types in re­doubtable cor­duroy of a cer­tain ply who whif­fle up and down the wal­nut-pan­elled cor­ri­dors at Faber & Faber and such­like.

But here at the Ma­hogany Ridge we won­der if an op­por­tu­nity is not be­ing squan­dered. Reach out to Ac­cused Num­ber One, the think­ing goes, pub­lish his scrib­blings – and there is every chance the re­sults could fire the imag­i­na­tion of the cul­turati and in­vite com­par­i­son with Swift or even Cer­vantes.

Read­ers will re­call that Zuma first hinted that there was a book lurk­ing some­where deep within him in Jan­uary last year.

“When I re­tire in a few years’ time,” he was quoted as say­ing, “I will have time to write and I will say this is what black peo­ple did to their son who went to school and ed­u­cated him­self. They tor­tured him… when he was given re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“But he did not care about be­ing tor­tured be­cause he had been tor­tured be­fore. I will ex­plain it and tell you who tor­tured me. I will just be telling a story.” Put it down to the fugue that comes with the post-fes­tive sea­son pe­riod, but it beg­gars be­lief that the gospel ac­cord­ing to Ja­cob Christ was not rushed into print there and then.

Here, af­ter all, were all the mak­ings of a best-seller: mes­sianic delu­sion, every man­ner of per­se­cu­tion com­plex, and lash­ings of ubuntu whimsy.

Much of the same was doled out on Wed­nes­day, when the thief-in-chief turned up at the scrub­bish bit of

in the North West that is now bosveld the Groot Marico Her­itage Site and Lib­er­a­tion Her­itage Route of Bokone Bophir­ima.

It was here that Zuma un­veiled a mon­u­ment to him­self on the site where he was ar­rested by se­cu­rity po­lice and taken into cus­tody in June 1963.

The mon­u­ment it­self is rather strange; it’s 6m tall and con­sists of a num­ber of curved metal pipes hold­ing aloft a large sil­ver sphere fea­tur­ing a por­trait of Zuma.

Be­cause they have no busi­ness in Zeerust, most South Africans will prob­a­bly never get to see the thing. This is per­haps a bless­ing. But there are those who feel that it has no place even in this re­mote back­wa­ter, and pro­test­ers there were re­port­edly dis­persed with stun grenades, rub­ber bul­lets and a water can­non. Ev­ery­one’s a critic these days.

To be fair, it is not a par­tic­u­larly hideous work, and those who have stud­ied it may even find in the piece a sug­ges­tion of the bru­tal­ist aes­thetic that was once so fash­ion­able in east­ern Euro­pean art in the 1970s.

They may also see in the pres­i­dent’s por­trait a strong re­sem­blance to Elmer J Fudd, the rab­bit-hunt­ing Looney Tunes car­toon char­ac­ter. Some may even pon­der the un­canny way the eyes ap­pear to fol­low the women as they move around the mon­u­ment.

But it once again re­minds us that, when it comes to po­lit­i­cal kitsch, the rul­ing party’s ap­petite is bound­less.

And, of course, such self­ag­gran­dis­ing works do re­in­force longheld con­vic­tions that such mon­u­ments only be erected sub­ject to cer­tain con­di­tions: (a) the in­di­vid­ual thus ven­er­ated was an hon­ourable per­son, be­yond re­proach; and (b) is quite dead.

As mat­ters presently stand, our pres­i­dent is sadly only ca­pa­ble of meet­ing one of these con­di­tions.

Still, there is some­thing quite touch­ing about his clumsy at­tempts to leave be­hind a legacy, and this mon­u­ment is an­other awk­ward ex­am­ple of that quest.

At the un­veil­ing, Zuma re­called the cir­cum­stances of his ar­rest. He and other would-be free­dom fight­ers, 52 in total, had left Joburg for the Botswana bor­der in four kom­bis and a sedan driven by their com­man­der, one Lom­bard Mbatha. All were picked up by the se­cu­rity po­lice.

Else­where some cheeky wags sug­gested that the Sax­on­wold She­been also be de­clared a mon­u­ment, for Zuma was cap­tured there as well.

And then came an­other hint of that im­pend­ing mem­oir. As he put it, “I am giv­ing you snip­pets be­cause I am go­ing to write a book with the great­est de­tails in­clud­ing what hap­pened”.

But enough talk al­ready. Just sit down and write the thing. We know of sev­eral places that are quiet, se­cure and free from dis­trac­tion. Who knows? Maybe there’s an­other

Cold Stone Jug in the mak­ing here.

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