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Dear Papa Zuma, when days are dark, friends are Niehaus

South Africa fails to appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of a father of an estimated 20 children and the father of the nation. Papa, please let me share your story with them so that they may open their eyes and see.

Dear Comrade Leader Papa Zuma,

Our father who art in Nkandla, hallowed be thy name. I trust this email finds you socially distant or, better yet, isolated.    

I have no doubt many a desperate and fame-seeking #WMC #CR17 #ThumaMinaMedia wannabe journalist jonesing for a book deal will write some sort of op-ed or so-called analysis of your situation over the next few days. Ignore them, Papa. This is a time to focus on people who truly matter: family. As the saying goes: when days are dark, friends are Niehaus. Nobody wants that, so best to just stick close to family.

You must be so proud of your son, the dashing young Duduzane, who has kicked off a campaign that will surely unseat the iPad president. I read that last weekend, while campaigning in KZN, he experienced something of an epiphany. He told a gathering of the hungry that “we did some door-to-door, what we saw is that poverty is alive. Poverty has not left us.” No Dudu, it hasn’t, my boy.

I’ve always believed that it is the responsibility of a good parent to shelter their children from the hardships of the world until they are ready. Not many a South African parent has been able to achieve what you have, Papa, not many have been able to shield their children from the seemingly ever-present spectacle of poverty well into their late thirties. But somehow, in June 2021, after years of record-breaking unemployment, and 15 months since the plague hit our country, your 37-year-old presidential hopeful has just come to the realisation that “poverty has not left us”. Adorable. You made quite the Dudu when you made that one. He is truly special. You must be beaming with pride.

I remember back in May when he told journalists about his plans to run for the presidency: “The plans are on. We’re going in and we’re going in thick and fast.” What refreshing honesty. Many politicians lie and present themselves as something they’re not, sharp and of a steady mind. No, not so for this bright young Dudu. He stands proud and loud in his truth, in who he is: “thick and fast”. Cyril must be shaking in his boots.

I’m sure you’re equally proud of his twin sister, Duduzile. She’s really come into her own of late as a sort of spiritual centre for the family. While the rest of us, your fans, wondered how you were doing after that – to borrow a Niehausian truth – “unjust sentence that has now been imposed on president Zuma by the Constitutional Court”, the other Dudu took to Twitter to let us know that she “Just Spoke To My Father, @PresJGZuma Is In High Spirits And Has No Fear. We Have A Choice Between Serving Our Time In Jhb Or Nkandla… Of Course We Have Chosen To Be Close To Home. Lockdown Or No Lockdown We Will Escourt You To Serve Your Time.”

Amazing to hear, Papa. Not many South Africans can maintain an outlook so eternally sunny that the prospect of 15 months’ imprisonment would inspire “high spirits”. Just look at their response to the past 15 months of lockdown. Seriously, the National Coronavirus Command Council even gamified it for them into different levels, but no, they refuse to be good sports. They could learn a thing or 50 billion from your stoicism.

Anyway, pay the ingrates no mind nor money. Like I said, this is a time for family, and perhaps a friend or two in low places. And you are certainly covered there. I recall back in February when your other Dudu took to Twitter to share one of her bright observations, along with images of Bheki Cele’s not #NkandlaTea visit. She tweeted: “No #NkandlaTea was served but great conversations and laughs were shared amongst Comrades, one of them being, should an arrest warrant be issued, it is the Minster that would come and fetch @PresJGZuma [*laughing emoji*]”

So precious, so prescient; I love other Dudu so much. And so it might come to pass, as she predicted, that should you not hand yourself in, the good “Comrade” Bheks Celz will have to “come and fetch” you from the very place where “great conversations and laughs were shared amongst Comrades” back in Level 2 Feb.

Actually, I must say, as a fan of classic gangster story tropes, I’m loving this Godfather-esque “top cop and top con fraternising at the mansion” storyline. So South African, and yet so global. Which brings me to the main reason for my email, which is to ask you if you would allow me to visit you during your upcoming Level 10-ish lockdown, to ask for your blessing to tell your story. I have long been an admirer of your work. Well, to be perfectly honest, not just your work, but everything about you. I have written much in these very pages, sharing the many ways I admire you. You don’t have to do so now, but should you find yourself with lots of time to spare in the coming weeks, please read my essay, “Let’s twist again, like we did last Zuma”, and if you should find yourself looking for answers to some of life’s deeper questions, please read some of my more spiritual writings on the wonders of numerology and how the number four has consistently been the guiding light over your life. Even now, with the 15-month sentence, it continues to play a role. What is 15 if not two digits that when the right one is subtracted from the other, will give us… wait for it… FOUR?! And I hear you will be eligible for parole in… drumroll… FOUR months!

As a fan of your work in the underexplored and underappreciated field of Non-fictional Fictive Storytelling, I have held on to one dream above all others, that one day I will be the one to tell the Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma story; a story of courage, passion and stamina. I imagine this to be a multiplatform production that can be told through a novel, a coffee table book, an Instagram account, a TikTok profile, a Eusebian multithread tweet, a year’s worth of Slack messages, and a multiseason Netflix documentary series that would put Tiger King to shame, with nine-hundred and thirty million three-thousand and six-thousand plot twists.

It would certainly be a far better production than the low-budget piece of rubbish I watched this week starring Justice Sisi. What was it she said? “It is indeed the lofty and lonely work of the Judiciary, impervious to public commentary and political rhetoric, to uphold, protect and apply the Constitution and the law at any and all costs.” She and the production company behind that whole film would do well to be far less impervious to aesthetics.

Don’t even bother watching it. Awful cinematography. The lighting is far too warm and yellow, especially for such a cold script and stilted delivery. Not to mention the horrible childish font on the Justice’s name plaque. Then there was that awful red-brick half-wall behind her. I just don’t get what’s happening to our public institutions since you left office. At least when you were in office you saw to it that public funds were spent on far more aesthetically pleasing interiors. Pardon my language, but red f**king brick? Like the stuff they use to build the holiday homes of previously disadvantaged Caucasians? Nkandla would never!!!

And then for her to say that the sentence is unappealable?!?!?! What in the Mazonne articles is that supposed to even mean? I have watched LLB television since I was a child, from Night Court to Judge Judy to every episode of Law and Order, even the Law and Order: LA spinoff. I even watched the first two seasons of The Good Wife. And I have never heard the word unappealable! Seriously, what in the Dali Mpofu?

Anyway, let me not waste any more of your time; it is, no doubt, of the essence.

I hope you will consider my humble request, and allow me a visit, at least so that I may present these ideas to you in person, Papa. I truly believe the nation needs to hear your story from thine own lips. While daddy’s two special Dudus seem to have blossomed and found their place in the world, be it Nkandla or Dubai, I believe the archive that could come out of this would be beneficial to your estimated 18 other children, so that one day, they too may follow in your footsteps, and Dudu all over the nation, as it were. Who needs the #Thembisa10 when you can have the #Nkandla20?

I look forward to hearing from you. Please pass my greetings to Mrs Zuma, Mrs Zuma, Mrs Zuma and Mrs Zuma.

A loota continua!



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All Comments 37

  • DM, where did you find this Oke?
    Please don’t loose him; lock him safely away with Zapiro.
    They’re both National Treasures that we simply have to look after.

    P.S. I wonder if Papa will grant him his request for an audience? I du…du… doubt it; apologies for the stutter!

    • Truly a gifted writer and as suggested keep him safe…. Would love to know how far his admiration for the fighters in red stretches.. Seem to be right up his alley..

  • Love your stories, please don’t stop, shows how ridiculose politic in SA have become. You couldn’t, make up the stuff that is now unfolding, I just wonder what the rest of the world is percieving the antics at work with our warmonging seemingly suspended politicions are getting away with.

    • Don’t worry … in America (the land of the ‘brave’ I think they call it) they have an even better show going on, with the Republicans (Trumplicans?) leading the way ! Remember how the Jan 6 insurrection, watched live on TV, morphed into a ‘picnic of patriots’ now ? The ‘gathering’ now in Nkandla is another of those ! And remember the effort to capture our judiciary with an evangelical CJ, with his ‘dissenting’ judgement . Oh the slippery Hlope our judiciary faces with all the dilly Dali-ing !

      • SO true. It seems that finally South Africa actually has some handle on what’s going on. The US, however, is in turmoil…& can barely get out of its own way. In the best of times, it’s almost completely parochial. Right now it’s off the charts in terms of looking inwards. And it’s a sh*tshow….

        • Not sure Churchill was correct when he said the Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities, or words to that effect. They are deeply engaged in “other possibilities” at the moment.

  • Dear Mali … wake up … an audience with the pope (ignoring all the secret residential Catholic schools child graves being uncovered in Canada) is more likely than one with papa Zuma ! The closest you will get, is to join the Marakanaesque crowd gathering around his castle and ‘fire’ pool. Sorry to be the carrier of such bad news … but then you know it comes with the territory of being a journalist – the enemies or is it enemas of the ‘people’. Carry on dreaming …. after you dudu. This is not a case of to dudu or not to dudu ! Don’t wait until Zapiro’s dilly dali gets to you with his wiggle waggle room.

  • I think a self taught grade 3 equivalent is not sufficient to catch the finer nuances of this “email”. Will actually believe this is from a Zulu praise singer (like the one on Ellis Park before an International Test).

    • Truly a gifted writer and as suggested keep him safe…. Would love to know how far his admiration for the fighters in red stretches.. Seem to be right up his alley..

  • Such a joy to read! Clever,cutting and so to the point! Congrats on a great article, makes us laugh when otherwise we might cry!

  • Well, that brightened my day a whole lot, thank you! Love your attention to detail. Those red bricks and the preschool font caught my eye too. Playtime in Mamparaland.

  • “thick and fast”… what gold ! Do I see a Nando’s ad in the distance? Perhaps a slogan for a presidential campaign?

  • Wonderful ! I laughed out loud while reading this. Thank you for brightening my day a 2nd time (the 1st was when I saw on TV this morning that comrade leader pappa Zuma has gone to jail).

  • You made my day but sadly it may well have been in Greek for all the understanding that Papa may have of what you are saying. Keep up the good work – oh boy do we need more folks like you to lighten our very dark days!!

  • A fabulous piece Malibongwe! Your fine understanding of the doo-doos, dodos and dooses that infiltrate our politics is impeccable!

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