Women protest over painted president Zuma’s penis


Zuma in action


First it was President Jacob Zuma and his exposed genitals, now you can get ready for an ANC logo on top of a man lying on his stomach, his pants pulled down and his backside exposed.

Artist Ayanda Mabulu is unrepentant and remains determined to shock.

Three weeks ago he sparked a row with his depiction of Zuma and his penis in his work, The Pornography of Power.

He provoked one of the president’s sons, Edward, into launching a spirited defence of his dad, even getting the often-moribund ANC Women’s League to march on the Union Buildings and unleashing a war on social media.

The painting, with the penis placed in the mouth of a woman, amid a host of other graphic sub-images, doesn’t take much to deconstruct – it’s stark, brutal and clear.

And Mabulu isn’t backing down. He’s insistent that he’s done nothing wrong.

In his tiny, stuffy studio at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg, where you are almost overpowered by the stench of oils and paints, his next work is nearing completion.

Amid the clutter of half-finished work and paint splotches, this one, says the 34-year-old dreadlocked artist, is his contribution to the #FeesMustFall revolution that has raged across campuses countrywide for a fortnight.

“The arse you see in my painting is the arse of the heads of state,” Mabulu tells the Saturday Star.

“They (the ANC) f****d around with education all this time and now they have fallen and everything has been exposed.”

He is unperturbed by the clamour he’s unleashed, five months after relocating from Cape Town.

The artist is scathing about the march by the women’s league yesterday.

“Don’t these women have better things to march for instead of defending Zuma’s private parts?

“They could march for a better cause, like female rape. It’s truly sad that they have lost focus on what is important in this country.”

As for Edward Zuma, who Mabulu derides as a “lazy sushi-eating fat man”, his advice is: “If he has a problem with me, why don’t they put the two of us in a boxing ring, man to man, to battle it out?

“It can be like Mayweather v Pacquiao – we shall see who walks out the champion. Don’t bring your entourage to do the dirty work, let’s battle it out man to man.”

“That boy (Edward), sounds like a small puppy who would do whatever it takes to bark so that his owner can feed him a nice meal at the end of the day.”

What he does want to do though is sit down with the president and talk politics.

“We’ll talk politics nicely. As far as I know he is less educated. It will give him a chance to learn about the mind behind the frustrated n*gger.”

The Eastern Cape-born artist says he struggles to understand why his painting, The Pornography of Power, has outraged people, since it’s inspired by the ideas and teachings of African icons such as Steve Biko and Frantz Fanon, as well as the controversial (and disputed) Willie Lynch letter.


Artist and activist Ayanda Mabulu proudly shows off his new painting #FeesMustFall at his Newtown studio. *The photo has partially been blurred. Picture: Paballo Thekiso

“It’s simply about how South Africa is being “molested, raped and f****d by one man”, he explains.

“The sad thing is that many people in this country find it normal to see the country in ruins. We should not tolerate that. Personally, I’m not in a space of comfort. I know what people are going through, I’m amongst them.”

Had Zuma been a good president, he says, he would have painted him in that way.

“If he was conducting himself in a proper way, I would be painting him doing a good thing, like sitting on a king’s chair reading poems to kids. But sadly, that’s not the way it is.”

Mabulu says he has written a letter to Zuma to explain why he did the painting.

“While he may hate my painting and despise it, I want him to know that my painting can’t be killed or murdered like the Marikana miners were.”

He has not sent the letter, though. He is also under no illusions about the artistic or intellectual merits of The Pornography of Power.

“The painting won’t… be sold at auctions, won’t be recited by art enthusiasts, will not be remembered or quoted by politicians, or a man of great religion. But one thing for sure is it will play on Zuma’s mind and he will know just what kind of a president he is.”

Mabulu says that as an artist, he can only express himself on canvas.

It’s not the first time Mabulu has courted controversy; a previous painting about the Marikana massacre was ordered removed from the walls of the FNB Joburg Art Fair in 2013. But Mabulu won’t give up.

“I’m deeply rooted in South Africa and no one will chase me away from my country of birth,” he emphasises.

“My mum gave birth to a son who is able to speak up. If you cut off my tongue, I will paint, if you cut off my hands I’ll speak, and if you cut off my hands and my tongue I’ll dance.

“If you kill me, my corpse will haunt you. You can’t silence me and you won’t ever.”

Women protest

Members of South Africa’s African National Congress women’s league on Friday marched in Pretoria in protest over a painting depicting a naked Zuma receiving oral sex.

The league, according to Africa Review said the march was to defend the president’s honour in light of the controversial painting by Ayanda Mabulu.

“We condemn the denigration of the image of president Zuma by so-called artists. For example, the portrayal of the president’s genitals in the mouth of a woman.

“The country was silent and even failed to condemn the imagery of violence against women,” complained the women’s league in a statement.

The League insisted president Zuma deserved more respect from people as the leader of the country.

“Zuma is the face of the ANC and our country. He needs respect,” league president Bathabile Dlamini said.

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