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Jacob Zuma: From an Uneducated Herd Boy to a President

Zuma, A Biography is an interesting story of an uneducated boy who was a mere herd boy but overcame all the challenges to be the South African leader, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, (from 2009 up to now). He is South Africa’s third democratically elected president following in the footsteps of Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela, the global icon. Both Mbeki and Mandela were presidents who are educated in the best educational institutions graduating as economist and barrister respectively.

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. Gcinamazwi was a domestic worker and Nobhekisisa Zuma a policeman. Zuma’s dad died while he was still young. He recalls nothing of his dad.

In the novel, a portrait of Msholozi (Zuma’s praise) as a man of contradictions appears. 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 clever 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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In this unauthorized biography, expert journalist Jeremy Gordin takes us through the journey of Jacob Zuma – from his modest beginnings as a herd boy, trade unionist, political prisoner (as was Nelson Mandela), exile life and obviously his presidential ambitions.
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The book paints a picture of a man whose life was never destined for greatness. Zuma never had a chance to accomplish his primary education, he spent his childhood years as a herd boy. Zuma’s family was not rich. Nevertheless, it was his mother’s work as a domestic worker in the white suburbia in Durban that introduced the harsh truths of apartheid to 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 defeated Mbeki, his political nemesis, in the party election in 2007 that was highly contested. He later presided over his party’s national executive committee meeting in 2008 that determined to request Mbeki to resign in the presidency, only six months prior to the end of his term of office. Mbeki agreed to step down with an emotional televised address to the country.