Feature

South Africa: A president with many first ladies

Just how many first ladies does Jacob Zuma intend to give us? asked Niren Tolsi in <em>The Mail &amp; Guardian.</em>

Niren TolsiThe Mail & Guardian

Just how many first ladies does Jacob Zuma intend to give us? asked Niren Tolsi. The head of the African National Congress, considered a shoo-in to win South Africa’s presidential election this year, already has two wives, not counting the one he divorced and the one who killed herself. Last week, the traditional ceremonies of a Zulu betrothal were completed for a third wife, whom he will marry next year. South Africans aren’t sure just why Zuma feels the need for so many wives. Many Zulus marry multiple women because they have too much work for one wife to handle. But Zuma’s latest bride is a “socialite” who is highly “unlikely to break fingernails hewing wood, feeding chickens, and helping around the household”—none of which, incidentally, the president’s wife would have to do anyway. It’s ironic that the man who is “head of a venerable liberation organization that has fought for the equality of all” still subscribes to the “archaic tradition” of polygamy.

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