Jacob Zuma’s life in a nutshell

Dear Mzwanele Manyi, I hear you want someone to make a movie about your man, Jacob Zuma. Well, look no further. I imagine you want this to be the mother of all hagiographies. Fair enough. Let’s get Bill Cosby for the lead. Is there money for special effects?

We’ll need to show Jacob walking on water, calming a storm, turning fish into wine. That stuff doesn’t come cheap. Here’s my outline. Open on a clinic outside Nkandla.

It is dusk. A bright star (parachute flare) hangs in the sky. Inside, lying in a cot is the baby Jacob. There is another baby with him. Jacob’s mother, a simple peasant, is visiting. The other baby’s parents, clearly wealthy, are also there.

When they all leave, Jacob switches name tags with his privileged bedmate. His hopes of growing up in a rich family are dashed when his butternut of a head gives him away. When it’s time to go home, Jacob screams and struggles.

A nurse picks him up and comforts him. Jacob’s deft little fingers get to work. Cut to a montage of Jacob as a boy, learning stick fighting, killing rabbits, setting an old tyre alight, rolling it into a neighbour’s hut and so on.

He is a happy child and his parents give him the name Gedleyihlekisa – “one who smiles while causing you harm”. It’s a name he lives up to for the rest of his life.


Cut to Jacob behind a desk in a rural school. He is eight years old and in Standard 2. When the teacher asks him a question, he giggles and starts dancing. The class cheers him on. After school, he approaches the female teachers and offers them lobola.

Cut to a song and dance bit that pays homage to the hotness of young Zulu teachers. The cast will be topless. Cut back to Jacob behind his desk.

He is 16 and still in Standard 2.

All the staff are his relatives and the new headmaster, his uncle, gives him a percentage of the budget every month. The spaza shop gives him protection money which he uses to bet on the local soccer team he pays to rig matches.

Seeing potential in the youngster, Jacob is recruited by the ANC. One day he is caught in the Eshowe post office making photocopies of R10 notes and is sent to Robben Island. Cut to Jacob sun- tanning, snorkelling and learning to surf.

We see Jacob teaching Mandela how to play chess and, in the evenings, helping the head of the prison to file fraudulent insurance claims. It’s a decade later and, after an emotional farewell party, Jacob returns to the mainland on a prison ferry renamed The Zuma.

A group of angry white protesters is gathered at Cape Town harbour. Jacob is surrounded and the situation is tense. The scene turns into a flash mob, with Jacob leading the racists in a rousing version of Mshini Wam.

Two burly farmers carry Jacob on their shoulders to a Ford Capri with balloons tied to the aerial and “Just Released” painted on the back window. Jacob begins to play the long game, with a steady accumulation of wives, concubines, daughters of friends and enough children to form a Cabinet.

This will be an extended sex scene involving multiple women and a lawyer. Jacob’s meteoric rise in the ANC is illustrated through footage of shooting stars, volcanoes erupting, women climaxing, car bombs exploding, etc.

Cut to 1990. Jacob carves the new constitution out of stone and, standing on top of the Ponte Tow- er, presents it to the nation like Rafiki presented Simba from the top of Pride Rock. For light relief, Thabo makes a brief appearance to correct a spelling mistake.

Jacob becomes deputy president and, with the help of Schabir Shaik (doing his own stunts), strikes the arms deal of the century.

Schabir is later jailed for having insulted Jacob by offering such paltry bribes. Thabo, jealous of Jacob’s ability to sing and dance at the same time, fires him. At the ANC’s national conference in Polokwane, Jacob and Thabo go head-to-head in a cage fight.

Three minutes in, Thabo gets his ass handed to him. He gives a five-hour speech quoting the ancient Greeks and a security guard escorts him from the empty hall. Jacob becomes president and sets about a series of economic reforms, visually portrayed by an immigrant family from Uttar Pradesh delivering truckloads of US dollars to Nkandla.

In return, Jacob gives them several Cabinet ministers to use as they wish. We depict the traditional exchange of cash for influence through an interpretive dance number.

Think bhangra bash, here. Wrap up with a montage of highlights from the hero’s life. Jacob discovering a cure for cancer. Jacob ending world hunger.

Jacob hugging Billy Downer. We close on a drone shot of Ja- cob on a swan-shaped inflatable in his fire pool. He waves and giggles. Fade to black.

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