Zuma, A Biography is an amazing story of a herd boy who beat all odds to become president of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, (2009-current). He is South Africa’s third democratically elected president following in the footsteps of Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela, the global icon. Both Mandela and Thabo Mbeki had a good education, one graduating as an economist, while the other a barrister.
Zuma was born on the 12th of April 1942 to the Zuma family at Nkandla, a rural area situated in the state of KwaZulu-Natal the birth place of the Shaka Zule, the great Zulu King. Zuma was the very first son of Nobhekisisa Zuma, and Gcinamazwi, his second wife. Zuma’s father was a policeman and his mother a domestic worker. Zuma’s dad died while he was still young. He recalls nothing of his dad.
In the book, a portrait of Zuma as a man of contradictions emerges. He is at ease in his leopard skin attire embedded in his Zulus’ deep cultural origins. He is a proud polygamous guy as well as a shrewd modern politician. He’s known for his affable demeanor and grin. Yet, he could be equally facile in discussions and the international arena through the intricacies of global market with no hint that the primary school level was his formal highest education standard.
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Expert journalist Jeremy Gordin, in this unauthorised biography, takes us through the journey of Zuma – from his modest beginnings as a herd boy, trade unionist, political prisoner ( together with Nelson Mandela), exile life and his quest to be the South African president.
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The book paints a picture of a man whose life was never destined for greatness. Zuma spent his childhood years as a herd boy and never had a chance to complete his primary level. Zuma came from a poor family. However, it was his mother’s work as a domestic worker in the Durban white suburbia that introduced the harsh truths of apartheid to Jacob Zuma.
The author takes us through Zuma’s political roll-coaster ride from political wilderness (after his dismissal from the deputy presidency) to his election as a president of the ANC in 2007 and his descend to the highest office in the land – that of the president. Zuma conquered Mbeki his political nemesis in the hotly contested party election in 2007. He afterward presided over his party’s national executive committee meeting in 2008 that determined to ask Mbeki to step down from the presidency, a mere 6 months before the finish of his term of office. Mbeki agreed to step down with an emotional televised address to the country.