Jacob Zuma is a former goatherd, a master of traditional Zulu stick-fighting, a resistance hero, a one-time spymaster, a graceful dancer, and the father of some 20 children. He has been tried for rape and indicted for corruption, racketeering, and fraud. He has been called the next Mandela and the next Mugabe, a black Jesus and a crass rube. By the time you read this, he will almost certainly be the new president of South Africa. Here is the story of his sometimes troubling rise—and what it portends for the future of his country.