Married to a mob

Perspective is everything, as the owl said to the pussycat. There’s been much furore about the Prez (finally, that Z makes sense) and his fifth marriage. I’m not sure why. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between him and most Jo’burg businessmen in the number of marriages they rack up, just in the number of divorces.

Why are we picking on Zuma just because he doesn’t believe in divorce (OK, except for that one time)? For heaven’s sake, man, he’s probably Catholic. He certainly has catholic tastes (in women! not little boys! The lower case ‘c’ is important), and I for one applaud him in sticking to his machine guns.

Ah, culture. It excuses so much. Race, gender and class are just individual cards in the winning hand that is culture’s Royal Flush. I hate culture.

But back to perspective. I fail to see any major difference between taking five wives, and taking one. The leader of the Christian Democratic Party, and acting chairperson of the Christian Democratic Alliance, one Theunis Botha, does.

“President Jacob Zuma’s traditional wedding ‘to a woman he is reported to have already fathered three children with, and the alarming return to ancestral worship is a giant step back into the dark ages,’ said CDP leader Reverend Theunis Botha.”

Of course, a step back into the Dark Ages, which I believe were gloomy bits of the Middle Ages, would mean that Zuma’s religion is a lot more modern than the good reverend’s own particular brand of ancestor worship, which I’m guessing is Christianity. That, I think, started life as a crazy Jewish religious cult in the BC years.

I’m reminded of some of the criticism we got for a video we made last month, featuring interviews with the Head of Scientology in South Africa. One or two readers were upset that we treated Scientology as a “real” religion, instead of exposing them as charlatans.

It’s a perspective I don’t understand. Surely ALL religions are equally insane? Some believe that aliens came to earth and created us, some believe that their god can turn water into wine, and some believe that they’ll be pampered by 72 virgins “with appetising vaginas” in Paradise, and that their erections will be eternal in Heaven. Are we really supposed to put gradations of insanity on those?

Returning to Zuma’s merry nuptials in Nkandla: is there any significant difference between having three wives (I’m only counting those on active duty) and having one? Well, yes — it’s a lot more expensive, I’d imagine. And since much of Zuma’s money seems to come from taxpayers via one route or another, and since he’s already apparently building a R65-million harem in Nkandla, mostly paid for by us, it behoves us to keep an eye on his marital expenses.

But accusing him of being any different to a monogamist, and claiming that African traditional religions are primitive by comparison to Christianity, is ridiculous.

Monogamy and Christianity are just as liable to abuse, crazy beliefs, and, thankfully, to constant reinterpretation, as polygamy and ancestor worship. If you argue against the one set, you must logically also include the other. The inhabitants of the loony bin can argue as much as they want about which of them is the real Napoleon, but in essence, they’re all wearing the same cocked hat.

  • Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisRoperZA, of visit his blog

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    Chris Roper
    Chris Roper

    Chris Roper was editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian from July 2013 - July 2015.

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