Statement by Zuma’s children – Respect our leader, father, husband and fellow being

2012-05-19 16:22

Being the children of someone in the public eye means a thick skin comes with the territory.

We as the Zuma family have had to weather the heaviest of storms and our young eyes have seen a lot, but we nevertheless have led our lives with hope, grace and love.

We have continued to live our lives divorced from the newspaper articles and office gossip that our family is too often at the heart of.

We have remained strong and continue to be grateful for the loving father and family that we have.

As young, black female South Africans, however, there are some things one cannot sit back and watch happen.

These are things that erode and continue to vigorously encroach on your dignity as a human being, things that suggest that you are not worthy of human rights and justice.

One example is Brett Murray’s painting.

This is a clear and assertive indication that the artist and his defenders have no respect for the office of the presidency (the highest office in the land), nor do they have any respect for Jacob Zuma as a leader, father, husband or even a fellow human being.

The depiction is vulgar and lacks humanity.

It seeks to take away our father’s dignity, and destroy his true character and stature as a man, a father, the leader of the ANC and South African society at large.

We do understand that he is a public figure, but this is no longer political and instead infringes on his rights as a human being.

It is our view that the issue is not one of freedom of speech or artistic expression, it is about the fact that the painter does not see our father as a human being and therefore does not see it as appropriate to depict him as one.

Instead, he is depicted in a disrespectful, savage-like manner, something that can only be justified through a eurocentric and negrophobic lens.

Only animals walk around naked, not people, and this depiction clearly indicates that the artist and his supporters see not only the president, but black people, as such.

The painting is really just the straw that broke the camel’s back in this notion that a black man who is associated with African cultures and traditions, and who does not fit the “perfect” mould of Western values and beliefs, is less human than the next person.

The painter would never depict his father in that manner, nor would he depict any father or man in that manner, but an African like Jacob Zuma is depicted in that way because he does not view him as his equal.

He cares not about the South Africa that the likes of Jacob Zuma fought for.

Instead, he continues to further entrench stereotypes and racism through this artwork.

To depict a man, let alone a head of state, in this manner shows he has no respect for him or anything he represents.

Those who are his defenders, as well as those who are conspicuously silent on the matter, are just as guilty.

No matter how thick our skin, we cannot sit back and do nothing as our dignity is being taken away from us.

We speak out now because we feel that this character assassination of our father is undermining his dignity and the South African ideals so many sacrificed so much for.

This is neither fair (to him) nor to his family.

He should be judged by his work and his contribution as a political leader. We must continue to be frank and honest about the hang-ups of apartheid in the attitudes many people still display. Whether or not one voted for him, no one reserves the right to degrade him and the office that he holds. He is an elected head of state, a husband, a father and grandfather. Surely in this democratic South Africa, which came at a very high cost, rights should be reserved for all.
View the story "ANC goes to court over Zuma’s jewels" on Storify


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