February 11, 2010

I often wonder as to why people are shocked, shocked—Captain Renault-like—to discover that modern football is a malodorous cesspit teeming with leeches and crooks, or that Tony Blair is a congenital liar not worthy of any position except that of orderly in a prison gym. The latest shock is the discovery that Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, has fathered his 20th child. Unlike football players, owners of football teams, and Tony Blair, I like Jacob Zuma, a polygamous roly-poly Zulu who preaches safe sex by advising those indulging to take a shower once they’ve finished the business. Zuma is a proud Zulu traditionalist who doesn’t much believe in white man’s science, and who has been married a total of five times, has had children by seven women, and has three wives at present. His latest child’s mother is not one of his wives, which is fine with Zulu custom, especially as Zuma has provided “inhlawulo,” the customary payment by a Zulu man after he fathers a child out of wedlock.

Actually I envy Zuma, and would love to provide inhlawulo to not a small amount of ladies. Alas, all I get is a red signal despite the fact my wallet is bulging with prospective inhlawulo pounds and dollars. (No one accepts Euros any more, especially not for inhlawulo purposes). Mind you, we are all Zulus now. Didn’t the ghastly John Terry pay inhlawulo money to that cute little French mademoiselle? Didn’t the unspeakable owner of the Chelsea football club pay his cute Russian squeeze inhlawulo? Not to mention the poor little Greek boy. (Who didn’t pay).

“Couple of weeks ago in Davos, the writer Fareed Zakaria asked President Zuma point blank about polygamy, and whether the Zulu thought the custom was unfair to women. Zuma answered like a true male: ‘As my culture, polygamy does not take anything from me, from my political beliefs.’”

About twenty-five years or so ago, an English gel demanded inhlawulo from me before she had come up with the goods. I refused because I believed it to be a false alarm. Her father wrote to mine demanding inhlawulo and my poor old dad blew a gasket. “You have contributed nothing to the family’s fortune except for outrageous bills and expenses,” he wrote to me, “am I now supposed to pay for your incapability of keeping your pants on?” But all’s well that ends well. It was a false alarm and the lady went on to marry the big shot of the New York Times, a far, far better thing to do than have a Taki child, inhlawulo or no inhlawulo.

What I find surprising is the reaction to the president’s newest issue among South African big shots. The acting head of the Christian Democratic Party, the Rev. Theunis Botha, called Mr. Zuma a “Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and Henry VIII all in one.”  The reverent did not mention John Terry, which leads me to believe he speaks with forked tongue, as Terry will be playing for England in the World Cup this summer. If one mentions boys who like slappers, they’ve got to include the ex-England captain. And it gets worse. In a front page commentary with the huge headline “Shame of the Nation,” a Sowetan newspaper said that in other democracies President Zuma would be forced to resign, but the paper did not mention which democracies. Not in France, that’s for sure, where past presidents have had children out of wedlock with much younger women, and once the news got out, their popularity had skyrocketed. Certainly not in Italy, nor Greece, and most likely not in Spain or Portugal.

Couple of weeks ago in Davos, the writer Fareed Zakaria asked President Zuma point blank about polygamy, and whether the Zulu thought the custom was unfair to women. Zuma answered like a true male: “As my culture, polygamy does not take anything from me, from my political beliefs. The problem is created by people who believe their culture is the only right one, the only one accepted by God.” I’ve met Fareed Zakaria and he is a very civilized and pleasant man, but I think he was wrong to ask a Zulu that question. The Zulus are great traditionalists and are a brave people. Chief Buthelezzi came over for both Jimmy Goldsmith’s and John Aspinall’s funerals. If the Zulus like polygamy who are we to question them. If anything, we should demand the Saudis to allow women their rights, and, incidentally, instead of locking them up to come up with some serious inhlawulo.

Back in 2005 Zuma was tried for rape and found not guilty. He was accused by a family friend much younger than himself. Again, his defence was – how should I put it – manly, claiming that the sex had been consensual and once the accuser had crawled underneath the covers of his bed, he gave in and had sex with her in fear she would otherwise accuse him of rape! (I’ll have to remember that one in the unlikely chance of ever being accused of rape myself).

But let’s be serious for a moment. There are 48 murders a day in South Africa (according to Assure Strategic Consulting), the days of white South Africans are numbered, the great murderer and crook Robert Mugabe is next door and tolerated, and the last thing we should be worrying about is polygamy, which in South Africa is legal. Plus the poor guy paid inhlawulo, which is a damn sight more than many so called upper class folk right here in Londonistan are doing as I write. Pay your inhlawulo and then you can sneer, is my motto. 


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