National Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete had to halt President Jacob Zuma’s speech after an inbongi (praise singer) interrupted the president with determined praise and adulation.
Dressed in African leopard-skin attire, the imbongi stood among members of parliament and unexpectedly shouted in a strong voice, apparently in praise of the president.
“Iyooooohoooo,” shouted the man, to the parliament responding with dead silence, including from the president. Zuma tried to interrupt the man by continuing with his speech while the man was reciting his poem, but the imbongi was having none of it. He soldiered on, saying: “Iyoooohaaa”.
Some on social media are suggesting he was praising the president of the “great speech”, while others think he was probably just tired of the president’s serious talk about issues ranging from Eskom to apartheid colonialism.
While the man continued with his poem, the president looked askance at him, brushed his nose and then just giggled.
“Sorry, Tata”, said the national Speaker to the imbongi, and apologised to the president for the interruption. But the man was already in high spirits, and just continued to sing Msholozi’s praises while also receiving some appreciative applause and ululation from a few members of parliament.
“Sorry, Baba,” said Mbete to the man, adding “you don’t interrupt the president when he is talking”.
But, still, the man persevered.
“We thank you, Tata, but don’t do it again while the president is still talking.”
DA MP John Steenhuisen objected to ANC MPs encouraging the imbongi, saying MPs were not meant to participate while Zuma was talking.
“The president has enough imbongis in the House, he doesn’t need any in the gallery either,” quipped Steenhuisen.
Zuma was delivering his response to the debate on the state of the nation address (Sona) in Parliament. Among other issues, the president addressed the issue of land.
Watch the video of the praise singer below. He starts soon after the video begins to play: