His youngest son, Ham, laughed at his father’s naked­ness. However, Ham’s brothers Shem and Japheth were not similarly disposed as they took a garment and, with averted eyes, carefully covered their father’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke and discovered what his younger son had done, he was angry with him but did not curse him. He cursed his grandson, Ham’s child. And blessed Shem and Japheth who had respected him even at his lowest point.

Be that as it may, there is a society closer home that is having a field day laughing at the nakedness of its father. And whether the father deserves the derision, or whether the children have gone too far or deserve cen­sure, is a mat­ter for another day, and for South Africans.
A South African artist, 31-year old Ayanda Mabulu, has painted a portrait of Jacob Zuma in tradi­tional Zulu regalia, performing a war dance with his genitals in full view.

Ayanda dubbed the portrait: Umshini Wami (Weapon of Mass Destruction). The painting is part of an exhibi­tion titled Our Fathers which also contains Brett Murray’s controversial paint­ing, ‘The Spear’, that spawned protests against Johan­nesburg’s Goodman Gallery in May this year.
The Spear, which also depicted Zuma with his geni­tals exposed, was later removed by the Goodman Gallery and taken off the City Press website.
This is not the first time Ayanda has taken a dig at Zuma’s genitals. In 2010 he set tongues wagging with a painting titled Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi (Better poor than a rich puppet). The painting featured several political figures among them Jacob Zuma, Barack Obama, Robert Mugabe, PW Botha,

Nelson Mandela, George W Bush, Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Desmond Tutu seated around a table, much like in Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
All of the figures were compromised in some way. And Zuma was depicted with his genitals supported by a crutch that Ayanda said symbolised the perception that his sexcapades had spiralled out of control. The crutch, Ayanda said, implied that Zuma needed help to tame that part of his anatomy.

I am no art buff but looking at these paintings, I get the impression that the artistes are saying the most critical part of Zuma’s anatomy is his genitals, a perception that is not helped by his polygamous lifestyle.
It is, however, the timing of the latest portrait and its title that is most damaging to Zuma. Calling the paint­ing ‘Umshini Wami (Weapon of Mass Destruction)’ at a time South Africa is trying to come to terms with how real live machine guns widowed and orphaned sev­eral fam­ilies at Marikana is provocative.

It stokes emotions.
Thirty-four miners were gunned down in cold blood at Lonmin mine, a figure that rises to 44 when the two policemen, two security guards and six miners who were killed earlier that week are factored in.
Add to this portraying Zuma in war regalia, perform­ing a war dance at a time he is accused of waging war against its people? And you have a man being nailed to the cross.

Is it a case of art imitating life or life imitating art?
And equating Zuma to WMD at a time the likes of Julius Malema – rightly or wrongly – are placing the blame for the Marikana Massacre at Msholozi’s doorstep and calling for his ouster.

The picture becomes clearer.
I can bet my last dollar; this time there won’t be protests against the painting as was done with Brett Mur­ray’s effort in May. It appears Zuma is indeed naked in the metaphorical sense. This time the race card won’t wash because the hand that wielded the brush belongs to a pitch-black man, Ayanda Mab­ulu, who stoked the fires when he said of the painting:

‘‘He (Zuma) is not naked; I did not paint him with an uncir­cumcised *!***. This is a metaphor that shows he is not a boy; he is a man, an elder, a father, a leader. In this painting I’m engaging my elder in the language of my mother tongue, the language that carries the culture of my people, THE LANGUAGE HE UNDERSTANDS THE MOST. Through this painting, I respectfully, as one of his children, ask my father why he is starving us? Why he is negating his duties to his children, the citi­zens of South Africa?’’

A loaded statement that takes on an ominous mean­ing when read against the backdrop of 42 miners who were killed at Marikana for precisely asking such ques­tions. And a Julius Malema, who is saying, ‘I told you so: take charge of your resources’.
And again, all that at a time the clock is furiously tick­ing towards what appears set to be Zuma’s Water­loo, the ANC’s elective Conference set for Mangaung (erstwhile Bloomfontein) in December. And you can’t help but feel sorry for Zuma.

It has not been a good season for him.
First he strutted into Harare like a peacock and per­formed a diplomatic faux pas when he pre-empted our judiciary by barring Arthur Mutambara from the table of principals, yet our courts are still to rule on the mat­ter between Welshman Ncube and Arthur Mutambara who are tussling over leadership of the MDC.
The issue was not helped by the fact that the benefi­ciary of Zuma’s ill-advised largesse, that Sadc in its eter­nal wisdom or lack of it endorsed, happens to be his in-law. Father to the husband of his daughter.

A case of not only conflict of interest but abuse of office as facilitator. This raises legitimate grounds to call for Zuma’s ouster as mediator or recusal from the mediation. I wonder why the evidently punch-drunk Mutambara has not considered raising a stink worse than that of a skunk over the mat­ter.
As if that was not enough, a few days later, Zuma was to leave the stage in Maputo in a huff when 34 protest­ing mineworkers were gunned down at Lonmin Mine in Marikana in a hail of bullets that lasted no more than180 seconds. Zuma had to excuse himself to attend to the dis­aster but found Malema had beaten him to

Marikana such that by the time Zuma found his way there, the damage had already been done. Questions abounded about his lead­ership at a time of national crisis.
Just as questions were being posed here over his medi­ation vis-à-vis the Welshman Ncube — Arthur Mutam­bara saga.
It is not a secret that JZ, with his megaphone approach to diplomacy fronted by the loquacious Lindiwe Zulu, has not acquitted himself with the finesse of his predeces­sor Thabo Mbeki of the quiet diplomacy fame.

It is not too late for Zuma. He can clothe himself by learning from Zimbabwe. He needs to understand where we are coming from. The genesis of the so-called Zim­babwe crisis, that he is mediating, is rooted in addressing the same ques­tions the likes of Ayanda are posing today.
Zuma needs to steer the ANC back to the Freedom Charter. He must implement resource nationalism. Other­wise the likes of Ayanda will continue asking: ‘‘Why are you starving us? Why are you negating your duties to your children, the citizens of South Africa?’’

There may not be a Japheth or Shem among them.

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