Animal Sacrifices Before the 2010 World Cup?

I don’t know whether I’m more offended as a vegetarian or as someone who is anti-superstition.

The 2010 World Cup — arguably the biggest sporting event in the world — is set to take place in South Africa.

So what are South African leaders doing to prepare the stadiums for competition?

South African traditional leaders plan to perform ritual animal slaughters to bless stadiums for the 2010 World Cup tournament ahead of the start of the showcase event next June, they said on Friday.

Zolani Mkiva, chairman of the Makhonya Royal Trust, a grouping responsible for co-ordinating cultural activities, said the tournament, the first to be held in Africa, needed to be blessed in true “African style.”

“We must have a cultural ceremony of some sort, where we are going to slaughter a beast (cow),” said Mkiva.

“We believe that from the start we’ve got to do things in accordance with our own traditions,” Mkiva said.

Wait, what?!

Even if this is part of their culture, screw their traditions. How does animal sacrifice do anything for the soccer match? What does it mean to bless the stadium, anyway? Is someone afraid it’s going to collapse?

I suppose we can be thankful that their traditions don’t involve human sacrifice and female circumcisions…

Omri Ceren at Vagabondish doesn’t see how this makes any sense either:

When people arbitrarily select which indigenous traditions they’re going to highlight for outsiders, that’s a choice. We’re not talking about religion here. We’re talking about a bloody manufactured spectacle across 10 soccer stadiums –- both soccer and stadiums already being a departure from Africa’s “own traditions” –- done to emphasize “style.”

Personally, I don’t think it’s any different from religion. It’s superstitious ritual that has no actual effect on the stadium (or the world).

I hope the World Cup Local Organizing Committee has the good sense to put a stop to this before it gets anywhere.

If you’re not convinced how ridiculous this is, Grahame L. Jones of the LA Times suggests how this scenario would look in another part of the world:

Imagine that it is 1994 again and that the opening game of the World Cup is about to take place at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Or perhaps it’s the first game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, or at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, or at any of the other six venues used during the ’94 tournament.

Now, imagine the crowds outside the stadium, the fans in a festive and anticipatory mood, children among them. Now imagine a cow being led on a rope to a designated spot outside the stadium and having its throat cut and its blood drained as part of the pregame ritual.

Unthinkable? You bet. Sickening? Absolutely.

It wouldn’t be allowed here and it shouldn’t be allowed there.

(Thanks to Donna for the link)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Animal Sacrifices Before the 2010 World Cup?

    But of course! It would be just silly to offer animal sacrifices after the World Cup.

  • littlejohn

    To be fair, what does anything have to do with soccer, and vice versa? As a spectator sport, it ranks right up there with bowling.
    But I never criticize without offering a helpful solution. As with the equally dull golf, strategic placement of land mines on the field of play would increase viewership substantially.
    You’re welcome.

  • http://darknova.net Ender

    Soccer is by far and away the most popular spectator sport in the world. Please try and remember that 330 million people isn’t that many on the global scale.

  • http://liberal-debutante.com Katie Kish

    I read an interesting article in some random news paper the other day about the tradition of running the torch all over the place… apparently it was started by the nazis. The greeks did animal sacrifices though… they did 100 oxen at the base of Zeus’s monument.

  • http://www.zeekeekee.wordpress.com Nessie

    I’m a South African atheist and I find this really embarrassing. Especially since our soccer team is so pathetic no amount of coach changes let alone animal sacrifices are going to help one whit.
    There is this ridiculous notion of cultural pride that is really the baffler. I saw a program aimed at the youth on TV the other day, a man talking about how you have to ‘know your culture, heritage, religion, mother-tongue to have your unique identity’ so the ‘foreigners’ can see you’re unique when they come here. This ‘motivational speech’ was delivered at high volume in Zulu or Xhosa or one of the other 11 official languages of our country (except English, that’s not unique). Couldn’t help wondering if our unique identities are based on cultural idiosyncrasies, then we’re bloody boring when the ‘foreigners’ leave.

  • Jacquie

    Oh but really as a vegetarian I can say that there are animal sacrifices at stadiums all over the world at every event in the form of hot dogs. Not much difference. How ’bout we just stop slaughtering animals all together especially in the name of an imaginary friends called god.

  • Haydndup

    Hi, I’m from South Africa. While I do agree that animal slaughters are cruel and unnecessary, a large part of the South African population falls into the tribal category.

    Yes, it’s silly. But I don’t think it will be stopped. Luckily, it’s not a very large percentage of the population that would take part in this.

    Oh, and for laughs, here’s our president singing “Bring me my machine gun” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lof6XJ8b1SU

    Translation here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umshini_wami

    See? We’re very civilised.

  • Mandarb

    Our government has this bizarre respect for witch doctors. Muti killings is still a regular concurrence, and often it’s reported that muti was involved in crime, like having it smeared over the license plate of the getaway vehicle, in the belief that it will make the license plate invisible. You can do a university course in witch doctory, as well as homeopathy! And that’s besides the idiotic AIDS policies of the last few years, which I can’t but help think also had witch doctors’ input.
    The woo here is truly strong, and animal sacrifice as a blessing is just a part of it.

  • Lowman Totempole

    “How ’bout we just stop slaughtering animals all together”

    Where would I get my hot dogs?

  • http://www.twitter.com/skepticalbunny PeggyB

    Oh, please. Why don’t they just make a sacrifice to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and have a big ol’ plate o’ pasta? It makes more sense.

  • Min

    Oh but really as a vegetarian I can say that there are animal sacrifices at stadiums all over the world at every event in the form of hot dogs. Not much difference.

    You make an interesting point. The concept of the ritual itself isn’t really that different from the Christian rituals you’d have to put up with anywhere else; the real tragedy here is that the sacrificed animals’ corpses will probably be wasted. After thinking about it, I’m ok with animal sacrifices before the 2010 cup as long as we cook and eat them afterwards.

  • Ron in Houston

    The irony is that a lot of Christians will look down their noses and think what a backward religion it must be to practice animal sacrifice.

    Meanwhile the whole premise of their religion is blood sacrifice.

    Ain’t religion grand?

  • Epistaxis

    Or perhaps it’s the first game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, or at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, or at any of the other six venues used during the ‘94 tournament.

    Actually, I could totally imagine this happening in America. As usual, the protesters would just make the animal-slaughterers even more convinced that what they’re doing is right.

  • http://seangill-insidemyhead.blogspot.com/ SeanG

    Why don’t they just stir up some football hooligans in the parking lot before hand, if blood is what’s called for.

  • Richard Wade

    I hope all ten of the throat-slittings are videoed. If not broadcast, they’ll at least go onto YouTube. The cows’ reactions will be difficult to watch. I doubt that the witch doctors will kill them first with a pneumatic gun as in a meat packing plant. It might help to put an end to public complacency about such lunacy.

    Then, instead of a shaman with painted skin sawing through the jugular veins of cows, they can put their magic spells on buildings in sensible ways, like having a shaman dressed in robes made from caterpillar webs throwing water around out of a gold rattle while muttering incantations in a dead language to the self-torture god.

    Something sensible like that.

  • mkb

    Just so you know, the 2009 World Cup of Quiidditch was held at Middlebury College on Sunday (Middlebury beat Emerson n the final) but I don’t think that there were any animal sacrifices before or after.

  • Mandarb

    You make an interesting point. The concept of the ritual itself isn’t really that different from the Christian rituals you’d have to put up with anywhere else; the real tragedy here is that the sacrificed animals’ corpses will probably be wasted. After thinking about it, I’m ok with animal sacrifices before the 2010 cup as long as we cook and eat them afterwards.

    If I know my country men, they’ll have a nice fire going, and will have a nice braai afterwards. I don’t agree with sacrifice and useless torture of the animal, but I can’t say no to a nice steak, even though it might horrify the vegetarians among us.

    Edit: Apologies for all the “nice” in my comment.

  • BuckSatan

    O Brother Where Art Thou:

    Yessir, the South is gonna change. Everything’s gonna be put on electricity and run on a payin’ basis. Out with the old spiritual mumbo-jumbo, the superstitions and the backward ways. We’re gonna see a brave new world where they run everyone a wire and hook us all up to a grid. Yessir, a veritable age of reason – like the one they had in France – and not a moment too soon…

  • Arctic Ape

    Don’t you have any Christian fundies in South Africa who would get their knickers in a twist for this pagan ritual?

    I you don’t, the blessing probably works.

  • http://webs,utk.edu/~bvanderf Hazor

    The irony is that a lot of Christians will look down their noses and think what a backward religion it must be to practice animal sacrifice.

    Meanwhile the whole premise of their religion is blood sacrifice.

    Ain’t religion grand?

    Worth emphasizing is that the reason its premise is blood sacrifice is that its predecessor was big on animal sacrifices. I’ll be showing this story to my family of missionaries this evening, and making this point to them.

  • CybrgnX

    I would really like to see the cows killed & cooked and on TV or Utube. I would also like to see what happens on the Faux News and other news channels.
    I don’t watch lots of news so I may be wrong about this….How much news has there been about the Afro-Shamans killing Kids as witches???? Now they are going to kill a few cows!! Now if Faux News gets its panties in a twist over the cows but not the kids…THAT will be an eye opener. Cow killing is horrible —kid killing is OK.
    And Veggie-people, if g0d did not mean for us to kill and cook all those cows She/he/it should not have covered them with all that delicious meat!!! If g0d would have used eggplant, I would not eat them.

  • Polly

    If g0d would have used eggplant, I would not eat them.

    Impossible. Eggplant would be the work of SATAN. In addition to his other mischief-making: filling otherwise delicious cookies with raisins.

  • http://noadi.blogspot.com Noadi

    I’m a meat eater who’s raised livestock to eat and I’m offended by this. It’s just so pointless and superstitious.

    I at least hope they are going to distribute the meat so it isn’t going to waste.

  • llewelly

    “How ’bout we just stop slaughtering animals all together”

    Where would I get my hot dogs?

    Genetically engineered corn.
    If you think that sounds awful, you should try finding out where hot dogs come from today.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    Fair’s fair, Hemant. As long as we sacrifice whoever came up with the idea in the first place. Let’s see who’s REALLY committed to the cause.

  • N.

    I don’t get the hand-wringing over animal sacrifice. People slaughter millions of animals around the world every single day and billions of people enjoy eating the meat that results. So some idiot decides that killing an animal at an extra-special place at an extra-special time will confer some magical protection on something or other – how does that make the killing of that animal any worse than all the rest of it? Attack the irrational thinking by all means, but all this ‘oh noez, the little kiddies will see!’ crap (the Grahame L Jones quote) is ridiculous. If your kids eat meat, they ought to know where it comes from, and if you do, so should you. The only real objection to slaughter being a public spectacle is that it is likely to be unsanitary.

  • Alex

    Wow, how can people be so wound up about this?

    I understand the beef with performing a religious ceremony under the impression it will actually bring you any luck. But the animal sacrifice part is probably the most noble part of it all. Africa no doubt has a rich tribal history where the slaughter of an animal would provide meat and skins for the tribe. You’re not sacrificing just for the nonsense of pleasing the gods, there’s the very rational desire to eat the cow! Nothing too bad imho about seeing how the animal is killed.

    We eat turkey at thanks giving and Christmas, where did those animals come from? They were raised in the most efficient possible way and then slaughtered wholesale on a production line, and now you’re getting on your high horse about a cow being killed. That is all done in the name of our country’s traditions. Even as an atheist I love getting together with my family and eating at xmas I might not believe the religious stuff behind it but I do enjoy the ritual (getting together, exchanging presents, drinking etc.)

    Not to mention that cow will probably have been raised in more compassionate conditions than any animal anyone in UK/USA/etc. eats.

    It may just be me but a cow having its throat cut doesn’t bother me too much. The cow is not tortured, it’s prbably raised very well and then it’s killed in a quick manner. Don’t get me wrong I can’t imagine it being pleasant, but a lot of people here eat meat. It has to come from somewhere.

    The guy above me has pretty much said it all but I need to vent after reading that!

    It’s on a par with every other religious ceremony I think, the addition of the slaughter of an animal (assuming it is to be used after) makes it no worse, it’s not sadistic or unnecessarily gruesome, it’s probably has its roots in celebrations preceding a feast.

  • Jodie

    Silly Hemant — where does your vegetarianism come from, if not superstition?

    ….

    I LOVE it when atheism and vegetarianism come up as a topic!

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Why is this supposed to be disturbing? People kill and eat animals all the time. If this animal is raised and killed in a traditional manner, it probably had a much nicer life than a cow raised in a Western factory farm, and maybe a slightly more unpleasant death. And animal sacrifices are traditionally usually eaten, so it’s not like the food is wasted. I understand if someone’s a vegetarian who thinks that killing any cow is disturbing, but I don’t see why it’s supposed to be more disturbing when the cow is killed as part of religious ritual.

  • muggle

    Look if they want a silly religious practice, do it privately. Let whatever religious place of worship do it there. Out of respect for the international community, don’t make it a public spectacle at the opening ceremony or whatever it is at the World Cup. (Suddenly glad sports bore me.)

    Okay, I love beef! I do not, however, love blood and gore. And, no, I would not want my six year old grandson witnessing this. If he cares to when he’s older, that’s up to him.

    If I had to butcher my own, probably would not happen. Fortunately, I don’t have to. It comes all nice and neatly wrapped in nice, sanitary plastic. Hmmm, on second thought, I guess I could learn to slaughter my own if it was that or no meat. Fortunately, I will most likely never be forced to do so.

    For all you silly vegetarians/vegans, why is life more precious just because it bleeds? I’ve news for you — you have to kill to eat. Those plants you relish aren’t living their natural life cycle out either. Doesn’t matter if said life cycle would be short if it went unpicked. You still have to kill to eat.

    That said my grandson just got a lesson in where his meat comes from. I like to imitate Freddie Prince’s “Looking good!” to encourage him when he combs his hair and dresses neatly and that sort of thing so I was searching for a You Tube clip for the line from “Chico and the Man” (which I didn’t find) but one line on a clip I played, Chico says “Is a pig pork?” Grandson said, “Ewww, no,” and I said, “Yes.”

    He says “You don’t eat pig.” I said, “Sure I do. So do you.” He looks at me funny and I say, “You like pork?” He nods and I said, “That’s pig.” “You like ham?” He nods, and I told him that’s pig. Same for bacon and sausage (all of which he loves). I was casual about it and he seemed to think about it a sec shrugged and said, “Okay.”

    That does not mean he also needs to witness a pig being slaughtered in order for him to enjoy pork, ham, bacon and sausage. Get real. It may be natural for the son of a butcher; it isn’t for a kid who hasn’t been subject to it for six years of life.

    However, I am going ahead with cooking the pork chops I had planned tomorrow night when his Mom’s working. We’ll see how that goes. If I remember, I’ll keep you posted but I suspect it will be okay. We’ve already had this discussion with chickens and fish and he still loves them. In fact, he goes fishing with his Dad.

  • Bacopa

    Rituallly killing animals and distributing the meat is a ceremony common to all early agrarian cultures. It eased social unrest by providing the poor with better meals a few times a year than they usually ate at the expense of the wealthy, and strengthened the position of the wealthy as blessed by the gods. You see this even in non-state level societies with the Potlatch of the Pacific Northwest and the Polynesian Big-Man festivals.

  • http://thewordwright.wordpress.com thewordwright

    I started an ePetition to try and stop this from going ahead. It is VERY real and the method of sacrifice is extremely cruel and inhumane. Most people do not realise this.

    On the petition site a link was added where you can view the method of slaughter, for those who prefer more detail before signing.

    Thank you for your blog entry :)
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Stop-2010-World-Cup-Animal-Sacrifice

    Sincerely,

  • SamMac

    Don’t believe in Vegetarianism? You are not alone.

    I encourage you to read this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Myth-Lierre-Keith/dp/1604860804

  • Amy

    …I don’t think a sacrificed cow will be eaten. If it was to be eaten, then it wouldn’t be a sacrifice. I don’t know anything about South African cultures, but aren’t sacrifices usually burned?

    As an atheist and a vegetarian, this offends me, and I think it’s sick and wrong. As a (very) amateur anthropologist, I feel like we shouldn’t interfere or stop another culture’s traditions.

    I really wish they wouldn’t do it and I’ll be angry if they do, but it’s not really our place to stop them.

  • Alan Vedge

    Oh but really as a vegetarian I can say that there are animal sacrifices at stadiums all over the world at every event in the form of hot dogs. Not much difference. How ’bout we just stop slaughtering animals all together especially in the name of an imaginary friends called god.

    I couldn’t agree with this statement more except for one part. Don’t you see the hipocrisy in calling out the omnivores and superstitionistson their unnecessary animal sacrifices when you eat dairy (and presumably eggs)?

    The only way to end the unnecessary suffering and slaughter of all animals is to end the commodification of non-humans. And the only way to accomplish that is to adopt abolitionist veganism as a moral baseline.

  • http://www.zeekeekee.wordpress.com Nessie

    The concept of the ritual itself isn’t really that different from the Christian rituals you’d have to put up with anywhere else; the real tragedy here is that the sacrificed animals’ corpses will probably be wasted.

    …I don’t think a sacrificed cow will be eaten. If it was to be eaten, then it wouldn’t be a sacrifice. I don’t know anything about South African cultures, but aren’t sacrifices usually burned?

    Oh no, that’s not something to be worried about – it will definitely be eaten.

  • ManicParroT

    …I don’t think a sacrificed cow will be eaten. If it was to be eaten, then it wouldn’t be a sacrifice. I don’t know anything about South African cultures, but aren’t sacrifices usually burned?

    Burnt sacrifices are from the bible – Leviticus etc.

    South African sacrifices are always eaten. People can’t afford to throw away hundreds of dollars of perfectly good meat.

    I’m an atheist (and I think religion gets too much of a look in in our public life in South Africa), but I’m tempted to support this, if only because I’ve heard so many white people moaning about how it’s “barbarous” and “savage” to kill a cow.

    It’s worth noting that absolutely nothing has been settled. No World Cup officials have agreed to this, or even made a statement about it. It’s just some traditional types, and I suspect they’re basically trolling.


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