PRESIDENT CHARMING

I'M COMMITTED to my feminist ideals. It is simple really because the independent, strong individual that I am is not in conflict with the feminine, fragile woman who loves to be adored and protected by her man.

I'M COMMITTED to my feminist ideals. It is simple really because the independent, strong individual that I am is not in conflict with the feminine, fragile woman who loves to be adored and protected by her man.

That is why I felt warm and fuzzy deep inside when President Jacob Zuma put a protective arm around his first wife at the state of the nation ceremony.

MaKhumalo had already had a mishap on the steps of the house when she tripped around the complicated folds of her multicoloured dress.

The sight of Zuma getting all territorial and manly around his woman was so charming. In public nogal!

The president has a bevy of beautiful and big women to protect but extending his chivalrous grasp to the woman who has weathered every storm with him is sweet.

Zuma's younger wives have had it easy. They have come into his life at a time when he was clearly on the rise.

I do not care for polygamy and while I consider myself to be generous, my generosity ends when it comes to my man - I would not knowingly and willingly share him.

So I am in awe of these women who are able to talk about "our husband" without even scratching each other's eyes out.

I digress, back to MaKhumalo and her man. Our senior first lady is quite honestly plain and unsophisticated.

Her face bears all the patterns of the passing of time. Unlike her younger and more colourful counterparts, she does not lap up the camera flash lights.

Instead she seems rather awkward and inordinately shy. When it comes to looks, fashion and self-confidence, MaKhumalo is way behind Thobeka Mabhija and Nompumelelo Ntuli.

It would have been much easier for the president to shun his older spouse and be seen with the younger ones as he reaches the pinnacle of his career.

But the president chose to be with the woman he once described as "a wife, a friend, a sister and a mother to me".

When the University of Zululand conferred an honorary degree on him in 2001, Zuma described his wife as an amazing person.

He said "her loyalty and commitment to me has been an extraordinary one.

"As a girlfriend, she waited for 10 years and six months for me while I was imprisoned on Robben Island.

"As a wife she waited for 14 years and a half when I was in exile . she indeed suffered a lot because of her loyalty, love and commitment to me."

I am sure Zuma and MaKhumalo have long passed the stage of feeling butterflies in their tummies at the sight of the other.

But there is something so achingly beautiful yet tragic about the president and his first wife.

Here's a powerful man with beautiful wives but at the crucial times it is his first love, MaKhumalo, whom he claims and affirms, publicly.

I would like to ask her how she managed to love and support someone for so long without exhausting her emotional capital.

Mr President, I hope you never forget how blessed you are because MaKhumalo's love for you comes from a special reservoir.

It has survived the blows of life and the shame and folly of your errors. Despite everything she knows about you, she is still here, loving you and making you shine.

By the way, your arm around her . just so cute!

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