South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray, Gallery Over “The Spear” Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum

SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA SUES BRETT MURRAY & GALLERY:  South African president Jacob Zuma is ticked off about a portrait showing his “manhood” saying it denigrates him and makes a mockery of his office. The painting, entitled, “The Spear,” was painted by Brett Murray, who is white, and shows Jacob Zuma standing in a defiant pose with his penis and scrotum clearly visible. Um, there is no spear in the painting, so one can only conclude the title is a phallic reference. Jacob Zuma isn’t taking this lying down. He is launching a court case this week in which he argues that the painting “violates his right to dignity.”

jacob zuma the spear painting South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray, Gallery Over The Spear Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum

South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray Over "The Spear" Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum

The African National Congress is outraged and quite frankly, I don’t blame them. This is in poor taste. There’s art and then there’s art.The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg begs to differ, saying it is protected by freedom of speech. “The Spear” is part of Brett Murray’s “Hail to the Thief II” exhibition. The ANC believes it has a case “beyond mere censorship” and contends that the artwork is “playing up to crude stereotypes of African male sexuality.

Zuma states in a legal affidavit: “The continued display of the portrait is manifestly serious and has the effect of impugning my dignity in the eyes of all who see it. In particular, the portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests that I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect. It is an undignified depiction of my personality and seeks to create doubt about my personality in the eyes of my fellow citizens, family and children. “In terms of the theme of the exhibition, my portrait is meant to convey a message that I am an abuser of power, corrupt and suffer political ineptness.” Source: UK Guardian

UPDATE#1 (05/21/12):  “The Spear” has been vandalized and scuffles reportedly broke out at the art gallery in Johannesburg. According to the U.K. Guardian, one man painted a red cross across Zuma’s face and penis while a younger man spread black paint over the image. The younger man was reportedly assaulted by security guards.

UPDATE#2 (05/24/12): Jacob Zuma smacked down as the South Gauteng High Court rules the application to ban artist Brett Murray’s controversial painting “The Spear” has been postponed indefinitely, the Mail & Guardian reports.

UPDATE#3 (05/25/12): I thought the ANC had more pressing issues to confront, such as the high unemployment and murder rates in South Africa, than to take to the streets over a ridiculous piece of art, “The Spear,” painting, saying it is denigrating President Jacob Zuma:

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe called on party supporters to stage a march on the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday and to boycott the City Press newspaper.“The message that comes through to us is that we will not win in court what we have not won in the streets. Quite clearly battle lines are drawn. “This is not a battle for just that painting, it is a battle about domination and subjugation.We have a way of seeing things, our culture is not inferior, we all have to fight and protect that culture. “We must protect our being, we must protect our Africanness,” Mantashe told the 600-strong crowd gathered outside court. Source

Here’s a cartoon mocking the Jacob Zuma “The Spear” painting controversy:

south african cartoon jacob zuma1 300x195 South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray, Gallery Over The Spear Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum

South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray, Gallery Over "The Spear" Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum (Mail&Guardian)

Here’s the reaction from Twitter:

Watch men arrested at Goodman Gallery over Jacob Zuma painting:

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 South African President Jacob Zuma Sues Brett Murray, Gallery Over The Spear Painting Showing His Penis and Scrotum
Janet Shan is a freelance journalist, blogger and social media consultant. Janet specializes in political and social commentary, as well as business writing. She is the founder and managing editor of the Hinterland Gazette. She is putting the finishing touches on her new novel, a mystery based in the hills on Montego Bay, Jamaica.