Biographies Book

Zuma: From Herd Boy to President

Title of the book: Zuma, a biography
Author: Jeremy Gordin
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers

Zuma, a biography is an intriguing story of an uneducated herd boy who became President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Gedley’hlekisa Zuma, (2009 to present). He is the third democratically elected president of South Africa after international icon Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. Both Mandela and Mbeki were presidents educated in top educational institutions, graduating as lawyers and economists respectively.

Zuma was born on April 12, 1942 into the Zuma clan in Nkandla, a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal province, birthplace of the great Zulu king: Shaka Zulu. Zuma was the first son of Nobhekisisa Zuma and his second wife, Gcinamazwi. Zuma’s mother was a domestic worker and his father a police officer. Zuma’s father died when his son Jacob was too young. He doesn’t remember anything about his father.

In the book, a portrait of Msholozi (praising Zuma) as a man of contradictions emerges. He is comfortable in his leopard-skin outfit rooted in his deep cultural roots of the Zulu (South Africa’s largest tribe). He is a shrewd modern politician and also a proud polygamist. He is known for his affable attitude and contagious smile. Yet he is equally eloquent on the international stage and speaks about the complexities of the global economy without implying that his highest level of formal education remains the primary school level.

In this unauthorized biography, veteran journalist Jeremy Gordin takes us through Zuma’s journey – from his humble beginnings as a herd boy, trade unionist, political prisoner (with Nelson Mandela), life in exile and of course his quest to become President of South Africa. .

Gordin paints a portrait of a man whose life was never meant for greatness. Zuma spent his childhood as a herd boy and never had the opportunity to complete his primary education. Zuma’s family was poor, even destitute. However, it was his mother’s work as a domestic worker in the white suburb of Durban that introduced Zuma to the harsh realities of apartheid.

The book chronicles Zuma’s quest for freedom – his joining the African National Congress (ANC) at the age of 17, his incarceration on Robben Island, his exile and the transition years of the 1990s.

However, the book focuses on Zuma’s role in post-apartheid South Africa. Zuma served in President Thabo Mbeki’s cabinet (1999 to 2005) as vice president. On June 14, 2005, Zuma was fired for the misdemeanors of his friend and former financial adviser.

Gordin takes us through Zuma’s political roller coaster, from the political desert (following his dismissal from the vice presidency) to his election as president of the ANC in 2007 and his descent to the highest office – that of president of the Republic. Zuma defeated Mbeki, his political enemy, in the party’s hotly contested elections in 2007. He then chaired his party’s national executive committee meeting (2008) which decided to ask Mbeki to step down as president, barely six months before the end of his mandate. desk. Mbeki agreed to step down in an emotional televised address to the nation.

To that end, Zuma’s biography is an important book in that it shows how democracy worked in the newly independent state of Africa (since 1994). Despite the two men’s intense political rivalry – no blood was shed, although Mbeki’s supporters deserted the ANC to form their own political party shortly after his dismissal. But, Mbeki remains a member of the ANC and works closely with Zuma in the peacebuilding mission on the African continent.

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