Being green or protecting wildlife means almost nothing outside US and Europe. There are bigger issues facing people in places like Burundi, Guyana, Yemen and North Korea. They continue to struggle to survive each day. The cheapest bidder always wins when you live off less than $1 a day. And you don’t know if there will be a tomorrow if you live in South Africa or Botswana – HIV, TB or malaria can strike at any time. And who cares about the rain forest if you could be killed by a landmine or sniper in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Or care about sustainable farming when you have no food in Zimbabwe. Or about the poor wild animals if you are a refugee in Tanzania trying to make it through another day.
People are starting to bitch about the wildlife in east Africa being threatened by refugees. The influx of people, a half a million in Tanzania alone, has had an enormous impact on wildlife. And these refugees are hunting any animal with a bit of meat on to eat or trade. One of the reasons is that the aid agencies don’t provide any meat for refugees. No, it is all beans and cereal for them – with a bit of vitamin fortified foods thrown in.
Come on people, this is Africa. We need our meat. We think chicken is a salad. How can you for one minute think we can survive on beans and cereal? We’re not British you know. I don’t know any African vegetarians. I am sure there might be a few. But they don’t hang around the fire often. We need meat like you need to breathe. Without that we just aren’t human or even feel half alive. Please leave your morals at the door if you want to criticise us – we have enough on you to let this one slip by.
A very good friend of mine, French unfortunately, once tried to convince me that the world can feed everyone if we only turned cattle farming into farming of plants – sorry wheat and stuff. All nice when you have your red wine and baguette, but where do you think the cheese come from? And many of us in Africa judge wealth by the ownership of cattle. Too much of a culture shock for us to stop breeding and eating cattle. It’s so foreign to us – it’s like me asking you to stop earning money and just work for a nice fresh Cesar salad – with a bit of Ranch dressing, if you’re lucky. All very nice, but you won’t be doing that soon would you?
No, we want our meat and you better get used to it. And we don’t want the stuff you call meat in the West. We don’t want the hormone and steroid injected animals thank you. No, we want our meat to be fresh – living outside and as wild as possible please. You eat your manufactured mush and we will eat our meat. And we will kill it ourselves and not have this ‘I don’t want to see it’ baby attitude. Own it people (thanks Dr Phil). If you want to eat it – see it.
The aid agencies says that they can’t afford to give people meat. Apparently it is not cost effective and the refugees will get everything they need from the beans and cereal. Well, if you don’t pay up then you must shut up. We can’t help it that you can’t afford the meat. We need it to be who we are. Without it we just can’t be African. And don’t judge us. You can’t be you without your guilt and a superiority complex (yes, you are and have one even if you ‘work for the poor’ – we’ve seen the photos). And you can’t live without your precious air. Even if it is slightly polluted. You are who you are and we are who we are.
Which brings me to my last point. We do not believe in saving the environment and wildlife just for saving it. It only has meaning and ‘currency’ if it means something to us. We’ll look after it and protect it if it is valuable enough for us. We have always looked after our environment and kept the balance with nature, when we’ve had the luxury of living a normal life. (But it has been a bit more difficult to maintain since you colonized us). But when we have to decide between us and death or a meaningless life? We choose us. And that includes doing what we have always done. Eating meat. Live with it.