Zuma gets tied up in knots with his fifth marriage
Published 05/01/2010 | 05:00
SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma has tied the knot for the fifth time in a traditional wedding ceremony in his KwaZulu Natal homeland.
South African law and Zulu culture allow a man to take more than one wife, but critics say Zuma is setting a bad example in a country with one of the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection.
Some 2,000 guests thronged a homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal province to watch the ceremony, in which 67-year-old Zuma and 38-year-old Tobeka Madiba took part.
The couple are already married under South African law and have three children. Meanwhile, a family member said yesterday that Zuma is also planning to marry again later this year.
Yesterday's ceremony included an hour-long traditional Zulu wedding dance. During the ceremony, Madiba performed a solo dance while holding a spear and a shield to symbolise her acceptance of her new husband.
Zuma, wearing a skirt made of animal fur pelts and sporting bright white tennis shoes, then joined the dance. The bride wore matching sneakers.
Guests dined on traditional Zulu foods, and guests were told that more than a dozen sheep, goats and cows had been slaughtered for the feast.
Wedding guest Sipho Msomi, a cattle herder, said the wedding made him proud to be Zulu, the nation's largest ethnic group.
"We love him because he is one of us and does not look down upon us," he said. "Zuma can marry as many women as he wants. It is our culture."
Another guest, 28-year-old Prudence Khumalo, said she also supported the polygamous tradition.
"In the West it is frowned upon," she said. "Here we celebrate it. It is our culture and we stand by it."
Zuma (67), a Zulu traditionalist and an unabashed polygamist, has married at least five women over the years and has 19 children. He now has three wives including Sizakele Khumalo, whom he married in 1973, and Nompumelelo Ntuli, whom he wed in 2008.
He was also married to two other women: Kate Mantsho Zuma, who committed suicide in 2000, and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who he divorced in 1998 -- although she remains a trusted aide and is now the country's home affairs minister. When he took office earlier this year, all three wives were at the inauguration ceremony, but only Khumalo, his first wife, accompanied him to the main stage set up outside the presidency building in Pretoria. Since then, none of his wives has had a particularly prominent role, in keeping with the practice of South African first ladies.