With 2010 just days away and next year being the one that marks our hosting the FIFA World Cup, football is quite the trending topic. But we're not just talking about goals and red cards- everything we do is being carefully watched by the world. One such an example is the Ukweshwama ritual, a Zulu tradition whereby a bull is killed at the hands of men. It was suggested that this ritual be done as a sort of inauguration of the football stadiums. This suggestion was contested by animal rights groups, as was expected.
I am big on animal rights. An animal lover and -owner myself, I am a vegetarian and I also take care not to support companies that do animal-testing [see below], as well as showing support to those companies that are animal-friendly. I do the things that are within my [and anyone else's] reach, and anything else I can, be it volunteering at animal shelters or raising funds for them. But I am on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's side on this one.
The thing is that this ritual has been done for over 3000 years. Yes, I agree that it is a cruel process because the bull does not die instantly. But consider a few things while you bitch and moan about this process with your mouth stuffed with chicken nuggets.
The number of bulls killed in this way is small. Like, really really small in context. So while you may not physically kill animals, you are probably doing a lot more damage, albeit sans getting blood on your hands.
People eat fast food. It is part of modern living and hardly out of the ordinary. But eating your Big Mac, even if it is only every now and then, has ramifications far beyond a lifetime on your hips.
Firstly, millions of animals are killed to provide you with that juicy greaseball of a burger. And don't think these animals are killed in any more a humane way than these bulls. McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken kill their animals in horrific ways that are far from quick and painless. Then, there are the other repercussions. Deforestation occurs mainly because of the need to provide these millions of animals with grazing. So, trees are cut down, cows graze in the new space after which they are killed en masse by cruel means, and often soil becomes eroded because it has not been properly prepared and it cannot take the strain of all these animals feeding off it. So now we have a bunch of dead cows, no trees and useless soil. This is going well! Next, we need abbatoirs and factories for all of this. More trees are cut down to make room. Moreover, the meat industry is one of our worst environmental disasters around! Cows are transported from farm to abbatoir to factory to factory to butchery to supermarket to your home. This means carbon emissions for processing as well as all of the transport involved and lots of waste from packaging in all the various phases. Finally, you have a whole bunch of fat people who need bigger clothes, more medical treatment, stronger cars, more junkfood and are generally sweating it up in here, pushing us faster down the slippery slope of death by climate change.
So, while you're perching on your high horse about a tradition of one of the many cultures of this country of ours that so values diversity, put down your Kentucky Fried Cruelty burger and think. Doing harm is not necessarily as blatant as the things you criticise. Yes, the bull-killing is cruel. But it is part of a nation's culture that has been alive for thousands of years. But it is not a speck of dust on the disasters we are creating just by continuing our everyday lives.