For the second time in less than two-weeks, another senseless animal sacrifice is about to occur in the guise of a ritual to bless humans. On November 24, 2009 Hindu followers in Nepal participated in a two-day religious ceremony that killed between 200,000 – 300,000 innocent animals to satisfy the deity – Gadhimai.
And on December 5th the people of South Africa are preparing to stage their own brutal sacrifice to bless their success in a “game of football.”
The FIFA Soccer World Cup is the international premier football event and for the first time in its history the game will be hosted by an African nation.
This was quite an achievement for South Africa who beat out 203 other countries for the honor of hosting the event. And since 2004 they have been building stadiums and the infrastructure to accommodate the large number of soccer fans that plan to watch the games in June and July 2010.
Now that the project is completed, the Zulu king and his spiritual leaders called the Makhonya Royal Trust are calling for a “true African” way to bless the upcoming tournament. They want to sacrifice a bull in each stadium during a festival.
The custom is called Ukweshwama and it is the practice of killing a bull with a person’s bare hands. It typically involves a large group of young men who pull the cow to the ground and attack until he is dead. The slaughter is painful and slow.
The chairman of the Royal Trust said in an interview with Reuters news agency, “We sacrifice the cow for this great achievement and we call on our ancestors to bless, to grace, to ensure that all goes well. The World Cup will be on the African continent and we will make sure that African values and cultures are felt by the visitors.”
The crisis has received a lot of attention from the international media and worldwide animal rights organizations. Members of Care2 started a petition to stop the sacrifice.
However on a local basis only one group called Animal Rights Africa took action and brought the Zulu king to court. This resulted in a stalemate between the two sides when the judge was unable to make a decision.
It appears that the international pressure was too much for the judge and he turned it over to the South Africa High Court. They called for a meeting with the parties involved and are expected to make a ruling soon.
Sadly, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) which is the governing body for the World Cup has remained silent. And no one has heard complaints from the sponsors of the event: Budweiser, Continental, MTN, McDonalds, Satyam, Castrol, Adidas, Coca Cola, Sony, Visa and Emirates.
Even the National Council for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is the governing body of the SPCA’s in Africa, has not objected to the slaughter. They told the BBC their only request is that the ritual be “done in a humane way” and they “want to be involved in the process to ensure the welfare of the cattle.”
To make matters worse, one judge in the High Court told the South Africa Sapa news agency, “The activity was as important to the Zulu tradition as the Holy Communion was to Catholics.”
The fate of the bulls is expected soon, but the odds seem stacked against them. So more than likely, on Saturday December 5, 2009 a group of innocent animals will be led into shiny, new soccer stadiums and brutally killed by civilized people in honor of a game of football.
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