It's the year 5020, and a group of archaeologists descend on what was the home of infamous president Jacob Zuma, known then as Nkandla. Locals in the region give it a wide berth believing it to be haunted (that is, after stripping it of all usable material, like roofing, plumbing, bricks, et al).
On the surface only an empty shell covered in weeds and thorn trees remain - not unlike the Zimbabwe Ruins situated in the country ruined by another disreputable leader, Mad Dog Mugabe. The irony is not lost when considering Zuma did the same to South Africa.
Why the archaeological interest in what is, after all, a derelict monstrosity and an ugly legacy left by an ugly leadership? It should've been razed, the property used for housing, hospitals or schools. The reason for the interest is triggered in a museum in Joburg, now called City of Amaphupha (dreams), by a news item an American scientist spotted on a yellowed page of a newspaper, the George Herald, dated April 1 2021: "Zuma flees to New Delhi from his bunker at Nkandla, leaving behind his possessions".
Thinks the scientist: WOW! A bunker filled with chattel belonging to a man known to have materially benefited from politics. The news item adds that police, on arrival to arrest Zuma, found the bunker completely sealed and it would require explosives to gain entry. They decided to let it be.
The scientist goes into Indiana Jones mode: "In other words, there could be items of interest - perhaps even gold bricks safely stashed away. Or a safe filled with Kruger rands".
He persuades a team to accompany him.
Armed with picks and shovels and explosives, they dig their way through the rubble and old foundations until they come upon the sealed entrance to the bunker. A few sticks of dynamite do the trick and they're in Shangri La. Indiana Jones would've been disappointed. Shower gel hanging on a rope is not something of value to an archaeologist. Perhaps a three thousand-year-old Nespresso coffee machine made famous by the actor George Clooney might have some historical significance?
The built-in safe. An acetylene torch gains entry. Only a Louis Vuitton handbag is wedged deep inside the safe. It takes a bit of manhandling to get it out. The scientists feverishly open the gold zip, hoping to find some cash or jewellery. Wrong.
A note written on a pink sheet is the only contents. "My Dear Jacob, please hide the bag - the cops are sniffing around. Love Dudu".
Had the scientists been aware of the goings-on during the Zuma reign they wouldn't have been so narked over their dig. That bag and the note would've gone a long way in arresting Zuma much earlier - and preventing his escape.
Had they continued reading the news item they would've learnt of the Gupta brothers and their connection with Zuma. And their arrest at Dubai Airport.
History was lost on them.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer – and not necessarily those of Group Editors, the publisher.