South Africa: Jacob Zuma painting divides nation | Africa | DW | 25.05.2012
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South Africa: Jacob Zuma painting divides nation

Tensions are running high in South Africa after a painting showing the private parts of South African President Jacob Zuma was unveiled in a Johannesburg art gallery.

The painting called "The Spear," featuring Zuma mimicking the pose of a Soviet era poster of Vladimir Lenin has sparked fury amongst South Africans.

Calling for the removal of the painting, many South Africans say that this piece of art has shown disrespect not only to Zuma but also to the entire country.

President Jacob Zuma is reported to have warned that the patience of the people was being tested.

"I am not like people who come today and speak louder when they were not present during tough times, who wish to judge us when we never judged them,“ said Zuma.

“We have never said what they were when we were struggling and I don't think we need to be provoked. We have a deeper understanding of our people and the destiny of our people.”

Although majority South Africans believe that the painting at the Goodman Gallery may not be racist, the fact that it was drawn by a white artist only exposes how far fetched racial reconciliation still remains.

The Chief whip of the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) Mathole Motshekga said, "what happened in Johannesburg where art is abused is unacceptable, racist, vulgar and cannot be allowed in a democratic society like South Africa."

Scars of apartheid re-opened

The latest furor has torn apart the notion that South Africa has overcome its racist past.

An independent political analyst and a visiting professor at the University of South Africa, Dr. Madoda Fikeni, said the painting was a reflection of the lack of reconciliation in South Africa, hence the need to call for a national dialogue in the country.

"If you look in the past you would see how far apart we are from each other, it shows that the different groups have not taken time to understand each other."

While addressing the annual congress of South Africa's miners, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, Sinzeni Zokweni, called for a naked march by men to the Goodman Gallery. "We will match for one reason," Zokweni said.

"We will be naked for those guys to paint us so that they will know what we look like in public. We cannot publicise pornography in the guise of art work."

The ANC has since taken the matter to court calling for the painting by Cape Town artist Brett Murray to be removed from the Goodman Gallery. The judges are expected to make a decision next week.

Author: Subry Govender, Johannesburg / im

Editor: Asumpta Lattus

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