Friday, September 4, 2015

No tears in Zimbabwe for Cecil

The death of Cecil the lion has been covered from perhaps every angle except the one that matters most.  
How do the locals feel about lions?

Goodwell Nzou tells us, "In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror.

When I was 9 years old, a solitary lion prowled villages near my home. After it killed a few chickens, some goats and finally a cow, we were warned to walk to school in groups and stop playing outside. My sisters no longer went alone to the river to collect water or wash dishes; my mother waited for my father and older brothers, armed with machetes, axes and spears, to escort her into the bush to collect firewood.

A week later, my mother gathered me with nine of my siblings to explain that her uncle had been attacked but escaped with nothing more than an injured leg.  The lion sucked the life out of the village.  No one socialized by fires at night, no one dared stroll over to a neighbor’s homestead.

When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally.  We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast and our escape from serious harm.
We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.

Don’t tell us what to do with our animals when you allowed your own mountain lions to be hunted to near extinction in the eastern United States.  Don’t bemoan the clear-cutting of our forests when you turned yours into concrete jungles.

And please, don’t offer me condolences about Cecil unless you’re also willing to offer me condolences for villagers killed or left hungry by his brethren, by political violence, or by hunger."

~Goodwell Nzou is a doctoral student in molecular and cellular biosciences at Wake Forest University.

The BBC's Farai Sevenzo reports: "The lion's death has not registered much with the locals"

Perhaps Goodwell Nzou and others with such relevant insight should be the ones interviewed by CNN and the rest of the media.

Zimbabwe is a volatile environment fraught with corruption, oppression, and abuse of human rights.
The economy is in free fall. In the two years before September 2015, no less than 650 000 workers have lost their jobs.  In the same period, about 9 000 companies have either collapsed or gone into voluntary liquidation, and at least nine financial institutions have closed. The government will have to import at least 800 000 metric tonnes of maize within the next few months if Zimbabwe is to avert the impending humanitarian catastrophe; particularly in the southern provinces.  Cecil and the protestors are the only reference to Zimbabwe in the major U.S. media recently.