And the Oscar goes to … Jacob Zuma

Dear Mzwanele Manyi,

I hear you want someone to make a movie about your man, Jacob Zuma. Well, look no further. I imagine you’d want this to be the mother of all hagiographies. Fair enough. Let’s get Bill Cosby for the lead. He’d be good in the prison sequences.

Is there money for special effects? We’ll need to show Jacob walking on water, calming a storm, turning fish into wine. That sort of stuff doesn’t come cheap.

Here’s my outline.

Open on a clinic outside Nkandla. It is dusk. A bright star (parachute flare) hangs in the sky. Inside, lying in a cot is the baby Jacob. There is another baby with him. Jacob’s mother, a simple peasant, is visiting. The other baby’s parents, clearly wealthy, are also there. When they all leave, Jacob switches name tags with his privileged bedmate. His hopes of growing up in a rich family are dashed when his unusual butternut-shaped head gives him away.

When it’s time to go home, Jacob screams and struggles. A nurse picks him up and comforts him. A small gold watch is pinned to her uniform. Jacob’s deft little fingers get to work.

Cut to a montage of Jacob as a boy, learning stick fighting, killing rabbits, setting an old tyre alight, rolling it into a neighbour’s hut, and so on. He is a happy child and his parents give him the name Gedleyihlekisa – “one who smiles while causing you harm”. It’s a name he lives up to for the rest of his life.

Cut to Jacob behind a desk in a rural school. He is eight years old and in Standard 2. When the teacher asks him a question, he giggles and starts dancing. The class cheers him on. After school, he approaches the female teachers and offers them lobola.

Cut to a song and dance bit that pays homage to the hotness of young Zulu teachers. The cast will be topless.

Cut back to Jacob behind his desk. He is 16 and still in Standard 2. All the staff are his relatives and the new headmaster, his uncle, gives him a percentage of the budget every month. The spaza shop gives him protection money which he uses to bet on the local soccer team he pays to rig matches.

Seeing potential in the youngster, Jacob is recruited by the ANC. One day he is caught in the Eshowe post office making photocopies of R10 notes and is sent to Robben Island.

Cut to Jacob suntanning, snorkelling and learning to surf. We see Jacob  teaching Mandela how to play chess and, in the evenings, helping the head of the prison to file fraudulent insurance claims.

It’s a decade later and, after an emotional farewell party, Jacob returns to the mainland on a prison ferry renamed The Zuma. A group of angry white protestors is gathered at Cape Town harbour. Jacob is surrounded and the situation is tense. The scene turns into a flash mob, with Jacob leading the racists in a rousing version of Mshini Wam. Two burly farmers carry Jacob on their shoulders to a Ford Capri with balloons tied to the aerial and Just Released painted on the back window.

Jacob begins to play the long game, with a steady accumulation of wives, girlfriends, concubines, daughters of friends and enough children to form a cabinet. This will be an extended sex scene involving multiple women and a lawyer.

Jacob’s meteoric rise in the ANC is illustrated through footage of shooting stars, volcanoes erupting, women climaxing, car bombs exploding, etc.

Cut to 1990. Jacob carves the new constitution out of stone and, standing on top of the Ponte Tower, presents it to the nation like Rafiki presented Simba from the top of Pride Rock. For light relief, Thabo makes a brief appearance to correct a spelling mistake.

Jacob becomes deputy president and, with the help of Schabir Shaik (doing his own stunts), strikes the arms deal of the century. Schabir is later jailed for having insulted Jacob by offering such paltry bribes. Thabo, jealous of Jacob’s ability to sing and dance at the same time, fires him.

At the ANC’s national conference in Polokwane, Jacob and Thabo go head-to-head in a cage fight. Three minutes in, Thabo gets his ass handed to him. He gives a five-hour speech quoting the ancient Greeks and a security guard escorts him from the empty hall.

Jacob becomes president and sets about a series of economic reforms, visually portrayed by an immigrant family from Uttar Pradesh delivering truckloads of US dollars to Nkandla. In return, Jacob gives them several cabinet ministers to use as they wish. We depict the traditional exchange of cash for influence through an interpretive dance number. Think bhangra bash, here.

Wrap up with a montage of highlights from our hero’s life. Jacob discovering a cure for cancer. Jacob ending world hunger. Jacob hugging Billy Downer.

We close on a drone shot of Jacob on a swan-shaped inflatable in his firepool. He waves and giggles. Fade to black.


7 thoughts on “And the Oscar goes to … Jacob Zuma

  1. Carine Hartman says:

    I’ve just re-read some of your brilliance here. You’re a tonic. For my gin too, of course. Although I’m more of a cloudy drinker with a cloudy head. Your grandmother won’t approve…

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      I raise my glass in your general direction. Here’s to cloudy drinkers!

  2. jimmy, diep river says:

    Ben, a few weeks ago I called you an complete shit. I must apologise for my crude remarks. I was in a bad mood and had had too many gin and tonics . I completely failed to appreciate your humour. I,m 83 in two weeks time and I am inclined to be very grumpy . you will be pleased to know that your column is once again number one on my top ten list
    and I have cut back on the Indian tonic.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      That’s okay, Jimmy. Too much tonic can turn anyone into a monster. More gin, I say.

  3. Themba Dube says:

    Satire at its finest. Thanks, Trovato.

  4. Dave says:

    Bwahahaha – Ben you champ, this is a winner. You’ll get some backing from everyone, especially for the rousing rendition of Mshini Wam!!!!!!!!

  5. Tim says:

    Brilliant as always.
    I’d like to fund the movie, but I seem to be missing a few illustrious friends to fund my funding. Alas, this oscar worthy drama may never come to see the light of day.

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