The Greek… Zulu starring in South African politics

The Greek… Zulu starring in South African politics

BRICS South Africa has found itself in the international spotlight after its appeal against Israel in the Hague over the genocide of the Palestinians.

Domestically, however, one of the hot topics concerns the meteoric rise of a white, gay politician with Greek roots who has captivated black audiences in the Zulu region – and has ambitions for much higher.

The 32-year-old Chris Pappas (his full name is Christopher John Pappas and is simply synonymous with the Greek-American federal congressman from New Hampshire) is a special case, as his record shows.

Born in 1991 in Moy River to a family of white landowners (probably second- or third-generation Greek immigrants), Chris Pappas managed in 2021 to be elected mayor in the 120,000-population Umgeni Municipality of KwaZulu Natal County, which is dominated by the Zulu tribe.

Given that Pappas belongs to the opposition Democratic Alliance party, which represents the white minority in South Africa, his victory was a surprise of the first magnitude.

However, the young dioptric politician – who has for years declared his gay sexual identity and is fluent in the Zulu language and culture – introduced effective methods in cleaning and maintenance of public buildings as a private sector manager, raising his profile.

In addition, he denounced the patronage methods of the ruling African National Congress party and created jobs by attracting investment.

Everyone in the country agrees that no other white politician would have been so accepted in the province where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, only to spend nearly 30 years in prison in his fight against apartheid.

In 2024 South Africa will hold regional elections and Chris Pappas has already announced that he will run for the premiership of KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa’s most important regions with 11 million inhabitants. It will be a surprise if he succeeds, given that many of his opponents accuse him of being the Trojan Horse of the ‘white’ Democratic Alliance, which wants to bring back apartheid through the back door.

The “gay white Zulu” was recently featured in the Economist, while TIME included him in its “100 New Faces of 2023”.