Rhodes and Cecil: Mourning more than the bereaved


THE deafening din produced by the demise and ‘funeral’ of Cecil the lion has left many Africans, Zimbabweans included, wondering what the fuss is all about.
It has become Cecil this, Cecil that.
What is so special about one lion in a country teeming with wildlife?
Obviously Cecil, in the eyes of the West, is not just another lion.
He was the nexus that linked the caucasians with the white supremacist Cecil John Rhodes, the homosexual imperialist.
This explains the massive acres of space that have been devoted to the story of Cecil the lion on international media.
And it is not by coincidence that Cecil the lion was named as such, and his ‘assassination’ by a white American dentist, Walter Palmer, also coincidentally comes at a time when Westerners have propped up the offensive to lure Africans to embrace homosexuality as a human right.
Apart from Cecil John Rhodes’ chief role as being the architect of the colonial structures in Rhodesia, a country he named after himself, it was Cecil John Rhodes’ death wish to be buried at Matombo Hills (Matopo Hills) alongside his ‘lover’ Leander Starr Jameson that is more worrying.
Before the burial of Cecil John Rhodes at Matombo Hills, the mountains were sacred not only to the Ndebele people, but also to the original inhabitants of the land who named it Mabweadziva/Matonjeni/Njelele.
This was the acropolis of African spirituality.
It was defiled by Cecil John Rhodes in 1902 when, despite dying in Cape Town, South Africa, his body was ferried and buried at Njelele, at his request.
Njelele served as the link between Zimbabweans and their ancestors, where most of their ceremonies were conducted.
About a century later, a story shakes the world announcing the death of a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe, a king of the jungle who is now being touted as the world’s most famous lion.
Surprisingly even the country’s sworn enemies, the Americans and the British, have ‘sympathised’ with us and splashed the story on CNN, BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, New York Times, you name it.
In light of these developments, a Shona idiom quickly comes to mind, “Tsitsi dzei tsvimborume kubvisa dzihwa mwana wemvana?” (there is a hidden motive when you see someone going out of their way to solve someone else’s problems in their presence).
It is a well-known fact, for Africans at least, that Western ideology of individualism gave birth to the worldview expressed by the Shona adage “Nhamo yemumwe hairambirwe sadza” (you cannot lose sleep over the troubles of your neighbour).
The much-hyped story of Cecil the lion has left many an African puzzled, mostly because Africans as a people have never really been fond of predators that feast on their domestic animals.
A stray lion, especially for areas surrounding conservancies, is the villagers’ worst nightmare.
This is because for the typical African, you are only worth your salt when you have a kraal teeming with cattle, a flock of sheep and goats.
In Zimbabwe, 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas, which means, generally the majority are intimate with their rural upbringing.
It follows therefore that the nucleus of a rural family revolves around the wealth they amass, chiefly the domestic animals and their crops, which they guard jealously.
In the unlikely event that a pride of lions (or a lone lion) ransack a village, killing cattle and other livestock, there is always a shared grief among the inhabitants of that village in the face of calamity.
The men round themselves up to hunt down the ‘perpetrator’ and kill it.
Concern is towards the death of domestic animals than the death of a predator, how-so-ever caused.
Domestic animals have traditionally been used as a source of currency, status symbols, a source of security and of course as a food source.
Thus Africans do not have a culture of mourning animals, what is mourned is the loss of privileges that come along with ownership of such.
To show how dear domestic animals are to Zimbabweans, there is a heavy sentence of nine years per beast if you are arrested on allegations of cattle rustling.
On the other hand, the noise that has followed the killing of Cecil the lion is almost the same as the person who attends a funeral in the rural areas, crying their eyes out and wailing so loud that all and sundry regard him/her as a close relation only to find out after giving him food that he/she does not even know the deceased.
It is almost the same thing as a distant relation mourning louder than the bereaved.
The conclusion, according to custom, is that he/she is the one responsible for the death.
So now, back to the story of Cecil the lion, who is this Cecil, and why is he so important in shaping discourse that he be accorded greater attention than was given the Mediterranean Crisis, the turmoil in Libya, Ukraine, and everywhere else where the West has caused untold suffering to human beings?
Is he so important that they would rather expend so much energy mourning to the extent of beaming him onto New York’s Empire State building in a ‘campaign to show the plight of endangered species?
However, with the mass media attention showered on Cecil the lion that drums up all the other voices, we are left wondering whether to mourn Cecil, lambast his killing and killers, or to denounce those who are mourning Cecil louder than the bereaved.
One can see the stinking hand of Rhodesians and the West behind all this, trying in vain to hide behind the finger and treat Africans like they are heavily invested in stupidity that they believe that the concern over Cecil is honest regard for animal rights, while muckraking our tourism industry which was on the mend.


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