President Zuma at Chess Tournament

South African President Jacob Zuma battles 12-year old Sfiso Mashazi at the Nkandla Chess Tournament. He spent a few days in Nkandla promoting the initiative.

How many Heads-of-State have attended a chess tournament? In recent memory we remember the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at the 2008 Chess Olympiad cheering his team on to victory. He has also attended several meetings of the Armenian Chess Federation and is a staunch supporter of chess in schools. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa may be the latest to support chess initiatives which includes co-founding the newly-launched “Moves for Life“.

“The President wants us to reach out to more places, particularly where there are previously disadvantaged people. Next year, we plan to move to other rural areas because people want us to, and the response has been great,” tournament organiser Sandile Xulu told BuaNews.

Zuma attended the Nkandla Chess Tournament attracting nearly 100 players from KwaZulu and Gauteng provinces. The President even tried his hand against the competition. Present amongst the attendees were international master Watu Kobese and SA champ Kgaogelo Mosetle.



  1. Daaim,

    This is a great example of “leaders must lead”. One of the biggest problems in the world (also in my native Jamaica) is that leaders lack vision. Of course, it is well known that where that is the case “the people perish”!

    Many years ago I saw a quotation on a sign at a school for the blind in Jamaica which essentially said that it is worse to be born sighted and to lack vision!

    Chess can do so many things to cure the ills of a society including reducing (eradicating ?) illiteracy and crime and violence. This is communicated to many persons in positions of authority and power yet they do nothing to implement this precious gem in their societies via chess-in-schools programmes etc. My conclusion is that they generally just do not care.

    In this context it is great to see President Zuma sitting at the chess board and being, inter alia, accessible to his constituents/people. I trust that he will spearhead, or at the very least facilitate, measures or policies to have chess take deeper roots in S. Africa with all the attendant benefits.

    Who knows? This might be idealism on my part but perhaps if this is done by President Zuma and his govt. it might influence some of the neighbouring countries to follow suit and provide the catalyst for widespread improvement in Africa!!!

    May his example be replicated throughout the world by ALL leaders be they presidents, prime ministers etc.

  2. The interesting point is that Zuma does not appear to be doing this for a photo opportunity. He is truly interested in the chess initiative. You would not spend 3-4 days in what would be a packed schedule to promote chess, but he did this!

    Senator Barack Obama has spoke in this initiative, but as part of an overall initiative to help disadvantaged students in Harlem. The Harlem Children’s Zone ran into a lot of problems, but it’s good to see an influential politician get on board.

  3. Daaim, did you know that NM Jerald Times is in South Africa? He is being sponsor by the David MacEnulty Foundation. He’ll be over there for one or two years; teaching chess and advising children in the poorest areas. I think that this is a great story.

  4. I think is is very bid that we see the president of South African President Jacob Zuma playing chess. Daaim you’re right, this don’t look like a photo shoot. He really looks interested in the game and the benefits of chess for children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button