According to Zuma, in an autobiographical report for the South African Communist Party (SACP), he organised and influenced an anti-pass campaign in the Noxamalala district in the Nkandla area.
In 1959, he joined the ANC and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (Msholozi – his praise name) was born on 12 April 1942 at Nkandla in northern Natal (now kwa Zulu-Natal).He is the first born of five children of his father Nobhekisisa Zuma and his second wife, Geinamazwi.His mother had three sons with his father, Jacob being the eldest.His father constructed the middle name Gedleyihlekisa from a Zulu phrase, which translated into English reads, “I cannot keep quiet when someone pretends to love me with a deceitful smile.” His father’s first wife had four sons and three daughters.His father, a policeman, died when he was about four.
Following his father’s death, he and his mother left for his mother’s parental home in kwa Maphumulo, Natal.
Zuma began herding his grandfather’s cattle while other children his age went to school. Zuma and fellow herders would engage in traditional stick fighting, at which he excelled.
His mother wanted to take him back to Nkandla but there was no school there and he was left tending the cattle and goats.
His mother left for the port city of Durban where she found employment as a domestic worker.
Back in Nkandla, Zuma taught himself to read by looking at the books of other children who attended school.
He even arranged a night school for him and his friends.