Sixty-something year old African National Congress president Jacob Zuma a YouTube star? Well, why not? He’s already got a ring tone of himself singing Awulethu mshini wami – loosely translated as “Bring me my machine gun”. Many a journalist who has had to cover his public appearances have had to stop themselves from humming it or tapping their feet through the gutteral baritones of the song which reportedly was sung to boost camaraderie and boost spirits at the ANC’s exile camps.
The ANC Youth League sang it to buoy him through the courts for his appearances on charges of rape and corruption. With his wardrobe of leather jackets, his large sunglasses, his convoy of shiny black SUV’s nosing through masses of people trying to catch a glimpse of his Zuma-lisa smile, he would probably be able to snag a good recording deal if he ever gets fed up with politics.
It seems fitting that the man who was supported by the youth league through his sacking in 2003 ahead of his first round of fraud and corruption charges right up to his victory over President Thabo Mbeki as leader of the party, should have a presence on “new media” channels like YouTube and cellphones. He could use this platform to tap into the so-called apathetic youth voter – get himself onto Facebook, digg. The letter from the president on the ANC website could be sexed up into a blog of what he does every day. The man has hit the campaign trail in a big way – from sharing potjies with poor Afrikaners to trying to quell xenophobic violence in townships – that blog would never be boring. He could include promises of better bandwidth in his campaign statements, and include the importance of internet connectivity in underserviced areas and get big computer companies to put money into computer equipment at community centres.
This particular video was shot shortly after his victory as ANC president in Polokwane in 2007. Seeming slightly stunned that he had come this far, he sings cautiously, the slight weariness in movements pershaps showing the tension, hostility and stress that characterised the leadership battle.