Who would have thought that America’s Donald Trump could have so much in common with our very own Julius Malema? Not me.
While they obviously don’t share a barber, they do share a bull-in-a-china shop approach to presenting polarising political arguments, and an ability to win over hundreds of thousands of fans. Could it be that minus the predictable inflammatory declarations and oft-insensitive comments, there might be something great, and perhaps even admirable in their approach to presenting themselves in public?
They both seem to put an awful lot of effort into projecting their public images. Unofficially, “The Donald” owns the trademark to the middle-aged rich banker look (pristine suits and bold ties), complete with the infamous comb-over he’s sported for decades.
Meanwhile, “uJulius” displays an equal measure of intentionality with regards to his dress code— often proudly donning the EFF’s infamous red beret and matching overalls in the halls of Parliament, and sporting the finest European suits and most fashionable casual attire when he’s ‘off-duty’.
Donald and Julius’ wardrobe choices are no doubt part of a calculated multi-sensory strategy to reinforce the charismatic public brands they’ve built. They have succeeded in completely owning every public speaking opportunity by speaking passionately and candidly— off-the-cuff in most instances, and always at high volume.
At The Gathering 2015, hosted in Midrand, South Africa a few months back, I had the pleasure of watching the “Malema Machine” in action along with hundreds of delegates who had congregated to listen to political leaders, top journalists and the country’s business elite debate South Africa’s socio-economic state.
Julius was the last to speak at the end of a very long, but stimulating day. His presentation was scheduled for 6pm, and just like everyone else in that conference room, I waited till the very end to hear him speak. To his credit, he did not disappoint. He kept us hanging on his every word. And despite many people in the audience being vehemently opposed Malema’s political views, he succeeded in coming across very sincere, funny and even likeable.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to be the number one ranked contender for America’s Republican Party Presidential Candidacy. This despite the slew of racial and sexist statements he’s spewed recently— that some feel may eventually lead to him losing the support he’s so far enjoyed. Similarly, Malema continues to lead the EFF “to greater heights”, earning him the grudging admiration of his detractors.
Now am I proposing that the Julius Trump’s bombastic approach to public presentation is one to be emulated? No. But I do think that it’s an approach that’s worth keeping tabs on, and talking about— if only to keep abreast of the times. What I do know is this: Julius Trump is on the rise, and I’m betting that there are more fireworks on the way. So watch the sky.