Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The Spin | Jacob Zuma
— May 11, 2010—
David Hellqvist tries to make sense of the sartorial choices of World Leaders in his fortnightly column The Spin
South Africa has a long tradition of charismatic and colourful leaders. Everyone knows Nelson Mandela; and FW de Klerk has also gone straight into the history books. But both men can learn a thing or two from the current South African President Jacob Zuma when it comes to making the most of an entrance.
The 68-year-old Zuma took power exactly a year ago and visited the UK only a few weeks ago. Zuma, like Mandela, represents the African National Congress (ANC) which not that long ago brought out their own line of fluorescent leather jackets. The collection brought on a fashionable media storm, that is until punters noticed the jackets were by ANC, not APC.
Zuma’s own personal style is best described as eclectic. When he got married in January – to his third wife – Zuma was pictured performing the ritual dance moves of his Zulu tribe, wearing a leopard skin, several animal tails as a skirt and a leopard head band. To enable the dancing, Zuma wore fresh-from-the-box Reebok trainers and Reactolite glasses.
The President is an avid believer in frequent reproduction, and has fathered 20 kids. Open about his polygamy, he says: “There are plenty of politicians who have mistresses and children who they hide so as to pretend they are monogamous. I prefer to be open. I love my wives and I am proud of my children.”
During his political career, Zuma has been accused of racketeering, corruption and rape. No charges have been pinned on him and he was acquitted in the rape case. In fact, the only thing Zuma has ever served time for was his attempt to overthrow apartheid, which in 1963 resulted in a 10-year prison sentence that he served on Robben Island, together with Mandela. Still, he should have been sent down for those leather jackets.
David Hellqvist is a freelance journalist for AnOther Man, Dazed & Confused, i-D, ZOO and a Contributing Editor to American website JC Report