At the start of this year, there was controversy in South Africa, when a politician, Tony Yengeni ritually slaughtered a bull. Animal rights activists were outraged, however the chairman of the Cultural, Religion and Linguistic Rights Commission Mongezi Guma said that human rights came first.
“It is ethnocentric and undermining to hide behind animal rights and deny human beings their rights to uphold and practice their cultures and religions.”
“Our constitution specifies the notion of protection of human beings and their sense of who they are in terms of culture and religion.”
The slaughter of a bull is part of a cleansing ritual one does when one is released from prison. Yengeni spent 4 months in gaol for fraud. In the ritual, the bull is prodded by a spear until it burps. The burping of the bull signifies that the ancestors are accepting the ritual.
“There is a saying in Xhosa that if the bull does not burp during a ritual it must be released, so it is important for the bull to burp before it slaughtered,” Commissioner Nokuzola Mndende said.
The mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, criticised the actions of Yengeni saying that ‘culture’ was used to also justify discrimination against women. This caused Guma to respond by saying that South Africans’ ignorance of each others’ beliefs and practices, was of major concern.
This article points to the great difference in religious and cultural practices, not only all over the world, but also in the same region. What some may define as wrong, others define as an integral part of their culture.
In other news there was an article in the SMH about a priest who left the priesthood to become …er…a pornographer. The man, Michael Perry, maintains the move still allows him to help people, just in a different sort of way.
-‘Meet the priestly purveyor on porn,’ SMH 21/4/07