Dear Dr Zuma,
I am not one of your supporters politically. I cannot yet find it in myself to trust you unconditionally. There are just too many questions unanswered and mysteries unsolved. However, as a citizen of our beautiful country, I will support you as President against any force that might threaten our democracy and the well-being of our people. My prayer and fervent wish today is that you will prove me, and every other South African that have any doubts, wrong and that you will rise to, and exceed, the example set by your democratically elected predecessors, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
Jacob Zuma taking the Oath of Office
The future of 45 million South Africans were placed in your hands this morning at a few minutes past eleven o'clock. For the next 5 years you will be responsible for the welfare, safety and development of these people. This will be no easy task and to succeed you will need exceptional wisdom.
Today you can stand tall in the knowledge of your popularity. This will not always be true. During the next 5 years you will be watched and criticised every step of the way, not only by your opponents, but also by your allies. You will be doubted and challenged.
Your life will no longer be your own. Your time and energies will belong to the people of South Africa. You will be expected to be one of the people and yet, elevated above them at the same time. You will need to be strong and determined in your vision, but at the same time, considerate and tolerant of the needs and desires of a people of many cultures. This will be no easy task.
Adversity has sculpted your character since childhood. As the son of a policeman who died when you were only 5 years old, before you could know him, and a mother who cleaned other people's houses to support 5 children, you grew up in a time and place where opportunities were rare and privileges nonexistent. Yet, even as a small child, you took upon your shoulders the responsibilities of a grown man by foregoing formal schooling to help support your family. A remarkable show of character by anyone's book!
You did not have the opportunity to go to school, yet you taught yourself to read and write Zulu. Today you speak English, Afrikaans, French, Russian, Xhosa, Zulu, Portuguese and Swahili fluently. Can anyone doubt your intelligence, diligence and determination?
Your middle name, Gedleyikleksia, the name, given to you by your father, is a shortened form of the Zulu sentence "ngeke ngithule umuntu engigedla engihlekisa", which translated to "I won't keep quiet when someone deceives me with a beautiful smile while he is doing damage to me", spelled out your future. As a young man you saw and experienced the injustices done to your people and you took up the challenge of "The Struggle" to change it. Today you not only live in a free country, you lead it. Be proud, you helped to gain that freedom.
You are a Zulu, and a proud one at that. You value and remain faithful to your tribal culture and traditions, yet you also fit perfectly into the modern day social order of the world. You have the dignity and presence required to speak in the forums of the world, yet you are a humble and unaffected person who can dance with his own people. You are a man of vast talents and skills and know how to apply them. Apply those qualities to the good of your country.
In a very mundane way, I wish to equate the task of being President of this country with the baking of a cake. The ingredients to bake a good, and even exceptional President, are compassion, wisdom, common sense, consideration, determination and a clear vision for a stable and prosperous South Africa. I believe you have these. The part that will matter most though, will be the method you use to mix all those ingredients. My wish for you is that your method will be perfect and the temperature of the oven moderate. May God bless you and all of those who live under your leadership.
PS: Forgive the poor quality of the photo of the Oath of Office, it was taken from the television screen. Apologies and thanks to the original photographers of the other photos - I hop you do not mind me using your beautiful photos.