You Must Read “In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry For Lions” NOW
For the past two weeks Brande, MN’s Managing Editor, and I have been preaching to each other’s choir, talking about this whole Cecil The Lion situation. We’re on the same page, disgusted by the amount of attention Cecil’s death is receiving across the world while Africans and African Americans die much more frequently and we don’t receive nearly as much press.
Late night talk show hosts don’t shed tears for us. And I don’t recall Eric Garner’s face being projected on the Empire State building, though he died in a New York borough, not across the waters in Zimbabwe.
Simply put, people’s priorities are jacked up.
And while I’m at it, I saw one person on Facebook (and Jimmy Kimmel) argue that people can be concerned about more than one thing at a time. Oh, okay. Well, point me to your concern for the death of Black people and then we can talk. (Looking at you America.)
The attention the story was receiving had me so confused, I was starting to worry if I was crazy.
And then The New York Times published this absolutely brilliant article written by Zimbabwean doctoral student Goodwell Nzou. The piece is called: “In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry For Lions.”
In it, Nzou explains his confusion at the American concern and outrage over the death of Cecil.
Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from “The Lion King”?
He explained how his hometown, surrounded by wildlife preserves, was once plagued by a lion that got too close.
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.
While Nzou explained that animals are respected and revered in his country, to him, the American personification and glorification of animals is odd.
The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus.
And near the end of the piece he states, so poignantly:
We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.
God bless Nzou for delivering this piece of vital truth.
Please do yourself a favor and read the piece, in its entirety, here.