After a brief spin as President of South Africa, the multi-talented Jacob Zuma is plunging into a new and exciting career path – he’ll be a recording artist of liberation songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.
A full-length album will be recorded in April during the Articulate Africa project, a program of national and international literary writings.
Mr Zuma, who was forced to step down in February 2018 over multiple graft scandals, is remembered for singing and dancing at rallies during his tenure.
Thembinkosi Ngcobo, head of parks, recreation and culture at the municipality, said after the city had been designation as a Creative City by UNESCO, the U.N,’s cultural organization, it was decided to celebrate this with music and other arts.
“We were looking at artists and trying to revive these types of songs. It was very difficult,” he said. “We tried to find any archived material that had video or voice clips. But we couldn’t find anything in the museums.”
“(Zuma) has the talent and understands the history and emotion behind the music. He was singing the songs in the 80s and 90s and even before. Most of the young people in the ANC [ruling African National Congress] don’t even know them,” he said.
Mr Zuma, now on popular social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, has not yet spoken about the deal.
The widely-acclaimed acappella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has just announced they will sing with former president Zuma when he records his favorite liberation songs in Durban, their manager Xolani Majozi confirmed.
But last week there was some rain on the parade. The Democratic Alliance of the eThekwini Municipality vowed to block any plans by the municipality’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department to make a record of Zuma singing liberation songs.
In December, the ex-president who is thought to have little personal wealth, was ordered to foot his own legal bill and pay back State funds used to defend him as he fights graft charges. He could be liable for a $2.3 million legal bill.
“This record deal is blatant patronage, where the people’s money will be used to finance the former president’s lifestyle,” Democratic Alliance councilmember Nicole Graham said.
Funding for the project will come from the 25 million rand budget for “art and living cultures”, which had been approved by the municipality for various art projects.
ANC national executive committee member Fikile Mbalula has welcomed the idea. “I think the JZ (Jacob Zuma) album will be fireworks as he will be singing the Umhlaba Wethu (our land) song.”