Dashiki Dialogues: MaKhumalo might be the one to save us

2014-05-04 15:00

Before this week is over, MaKhumalo will know if her husband, President Jacob Zuma, will be president for another five years. This means the old lady will have to contend with another term of sharing the guy with the country and the world, not to mention his other wives.

This includes having to deal with more scathing media attention, the harsh words of opposition politicians, and other kinds of bile and chatter from strangers.

I don’t know about you, but as Zuma’s senior wife, I think MaKhumalo has a rare perspective on things.

Especially since we’ve all been peddling opinions about her household without much consideration of what she thinks.

This after another woman, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, said that MaKhumalo’s household benefited unduly from the nation’s purse. The thing is, MaKhumalo strikes me as an interesting grass-roots mama of sorts.

Consider that while Zuma’s other glitzy young wives jostle for international trips with uBaba, she has opted to run a spaza shop from

her home. This probably also gives her as intimate a connection to her village’s cries in the same way shebeen queens of old connected with their communities.

And everybody knows shebeen queens aren’t famous for being patient with tjatjarag people. To go around spreading opinions about their affairs would only get you a warm klap! So sisThuli might want to be careful there. But that’s another story.

The thing is, if indeed MaKhumalo is as connected at the grass-roots level as I suspect, she might just be the person to sort Zuma out for us.

In doing so, she’d be connecting with a long history of activists who were also shebeen queens and owned spaza shops, like Aunty Sammy of District Six in the 1960s.

Drum magazine often reported her exploits. She was a big-boned firebrand who knew how to sort everyone out. Once, at the height of apartheid when men of politics thought it okay to police interracial love affairs, Aunty Sammy took the matter into her own hands and single-handedly staged a protest.

You see, as a coloured woman, she wasn’t a fan of the Immorality Act. So one morning, Aunty Sammy put on a swimsuit and rode a donkey through District Six carrying a picket that read: “Down with the Immorality Act.”

It’s a powerful type of grass-roots dialogue and I’ve often wondered if it’s MaKhumalo’s type of dashiki too.

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