South African President Jacob Zuma was sworn in on Saturday for his second term of five years at a ceremony attended by hundreds of foreign dignitaries.
Born Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma on 12 April 1942, the man who succeeded anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, belongs to KwaNxamalala in Nkandla, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
His early political consciousness was shaped by his cousin Muntukabongwa Zuma, who had fought in the Second World War and later joined the trade union movement and the ANC in Durban.
The young Zuma was drawn into the organization and attended its meetings in Mkhumbane (Cator Manor). The President joined the ANC Youth League and SACTU in 1959.
He became an active member of the ANC during the Roaring Fifties – which came as a result of the militant Programme of Action of 1949 – the 1950s were characterised by the Defiance Campaign, the adoption of the Freedom Charter during the Congress of the People held in Kliptown in 1955, the anti-pass campaigns and the historic 1956 Women’s March on the Union Buildings.
He was recruited into Umkhonto Wesizwe and participated in sabotage operations in KwaZulu-Natal. He was arrested in June 1963 near Zeerust in the present day North West Province. On the 12th August 1963, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Robben Island, when he was only 21 years old and served sentence till 1973.
True to its name, Robben Island taught President Zuma and many of his peers many things about our country and struggle. It became a university in the true sense of the word. He continued with his political development on the Island and received his political education as well as general education with the help of his comrades.
Later, he moved up in the struggle front and in 1984, appointed the Deputy Chief Representative of the ANC. When the ANC began to talk to the apartheid regime in the 1980s President Oliver Tambo selected Mr Zuma and Mr Mbeki to execute this delicate and complex task.
Under Nelson Mandela’s rule in post-apartheid government, he was appointed MEC of Economic Affairs and Tourism for the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in 1994 and became the Deputy President of South Africa in 1999. He became President ten years later in May 2009. Today, he began his second term as President of South Africa.