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My “liberal” credentials might take a bit of a beating here. But, what the hell, I am African… I can’t pull punches just to make people feel better about themselves. I have some beef with what we eat…

You know I don’t like Palin. She an empty head with lots of background noise. I’m not even going to go into that. Just have a look at a few of the things I’ve written about her to know I am not a fan. See the letter I wrote to Sarah, or how six degrees of separation makes her anti-American and not a maverick, or what I want in a Vice President. Oh, there are many more. But those will give you a sense of my dislike of the lipstick pig.

And here I am defending her. Dammit. I thought about it for a while… But I know I have to. It’s about meat you see. And I am a meatarian. Ooh… Not everyone likes that part of me. Mmm. A few nice tjops and a boerewors on the open fire… Mouth watering sh*t I tell you. Anyway. Go have a look at my views on eating meat. Unpopular? Maybe. Do I care? Hum… Sorry… Was that a question? I eat meat. Live with it.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the “turkey incident”. You know, the one with Sarah “Empty Head” Palin talking to the media while a guy is busy cutting the throat of a turkey in the background to drain the blood. And of course, kill the bird. Here is a link to that just in case you haven’t seen it yet. Do what I did… Turn off the sound and just watch the guy in the background. I really have no reason to hear her voice. She sounds just like a bunch of turkeys in any case. And about as predictable. Have you ever stood with a bunch of turkeys and made the turkey “kulu-kulu-kulu” sound? Yep, they all react the same way by singing it all back to you in unison. Just like Sarah and her gang of bigots. You push the button and she’ll sing it back… So predictable. Anyway… Here is the video.

It was all over the news. People were up in arms about her being so stupid to stand in front of the cameras while the guy is killing the bird in the background. How could she? Is she that stupid? Hum… Yes, this “bird” is that stupid but it has nothing to do with the bird in the background. I really don’t get what the fuss was about?

Are you shocked about the killing of the bird? WTF? How did you think that turkey got on your plate over Thanksgiving? Do you think they were massaged till they died a peaceful death? Or that they died of some natural cause?

Yep. They did die of a natural cause. Natural for a turkey in any case. They got slaughtered. And nicely packaged for your convenience. Ready to place your order for a 16 pound turkey and pick it up at Roche Brothers the day before Thanksgiving. And then you stick it in the oven for a few hours and… Wallah! Turkey time!

(Oh, we had a chicken on steroids for Thanksgiving. Eight pounds – the smallest one you could order. Hey, the butcher frowned at our un-American size turkey – even after we explained we are four very normal size people. Two kids and two grown ups. But that maple syrup did the trick. Nice and juicy! Thanks babe.)

Back to reality… The meat you eat were once little calves and chicks and little piggies and little baa baa white sheep. Yes, they were cute once. But now they are dinner. Or maybe just mashed up into a burger or something. Get used to it. The things we call meat were once alive. Now they are nicely done (medium rare as the chef said) and on our dinner plates. Live with it.

More importantly, own it.

I find it amazing that people were shocked at the video. I just can’t understand how people can think that food comes nicely packaged without any consequences. Meat doesn’t grow on trees. Their natural state isn’t wrapped in plastic and in cold storage. They don’t grow up from little 1 ounce steaks into the half-pounder you slap on the grill.

I don’t have a problem with what I eat. I slaughtered a few sheep in my time. And cattle for that matter. Plucked a few chickens. Even helped a turkey or two from their kulu-kulu state into my plate. That’s life. I am from Africa and had to go to the farm when there was a break from school. I’m glad I did it.

And I am happy that I slaughtered the sheep and cows and chickens and rabbits and deer or whatever else came my way from the farm or when we went hunting. We ate what we killed. It wasn’t for fun. It was for food and to control the numbers. Too many wild animals and the semi-desert area would turn into a desert area if we didn’t cull the animals and control the numbers. Like I said, it wasn’t for fun.

But I am still glad I knew what I ate. And I am glad that I could take ownership of what I ate. From the farm to my plate. I knew the animals and knew what they were for. We always looked after them and fed them. Gave them space to live and kept them healthy. But they weren’t there to be played with. We respected them and treated them well. And then we will slaughter them in the best and quickets way we can. Always with respect and acknowledgement that we owe them as much as what we own them. Because we knew that in the end we will eat them. And live.

My only problem now is that I don’t know where my meat comes from. I know about the force-feeding of turkeys and the steroids for juicy steaks and the transporting of sheep. I don’t like it. I don’t. But I have to make a choice. I either eat it and know what might have happened along the way or I should shut the f*ck up and go eat some celery.

Oh I try to be organic when I can afford it and when I can get it. I make sure I have as much information as possible. But I am not going to live in the clouds and think that there are no consequences. I know that there are some major sh*t going on in the US when it comes to the stuff they call meat. Those large commercial farms are not a pretty sight. But that happens when you want your steaks and you want your burgers. It’s as horrid as you can imagine and then some. Sh*t happens when we want to eat meat.

Know what you eat. Live with it. Don’t try and think you are all “eco-activist” by getting worked up about the turkey getting slaughtered. Those horrid pictures… That’s life. That’s how you get your food. Know it. Live with it. And then eat it.

I do. I’m not going to bullsh*t myself. I might be a disgusting bastard and barbaric African for eating meat, but I am not going to be a hypocrite. I know it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Don’t think your all organic green salad is that much better. Farming soya is killing the Amazon forest. And it tastes like crap. (No thanks, I’ve tried it many, many times in different ways. It always tastes shite.) What makes a plant so much worse than a cow? Just because it doesn’t have whiskers and a heartbeat?

It’s so stupid. People trying to humanize the animals we eat. Cows with glasses on? Yeah, it is funny… But it is also a piece of steak away from being on my plate. Chicken Little? Wait till he grows up. Babe? Mmm, wonder what the farmer did with him when he got old? Sorry, these animals don’t live the lives we are told on the telly or read in those nice bedtime stories. Those are stories, not life. I laugh at the stories of animals done so beautifully by Pixar and the Disney gang and I love Back To The Barnyard. But I also know that calling the main cow Otis doesn’t mean he won’t be eaten when the time comes.

You like cats or dogs? Guess what… The stuff you feed them? Used to be the crap left over after they cut the choice meat for us. Or the fish heads left over after we got our frozen bits cut into nice cubes. We eat meat. Or some of us do. And we should know what we eat and not be disgusted by how we get it. That is bigotry. Or at least hypocritical.

Thank God we don’t hear the broccoli scream as you snap the stem, dry freeze it before it is stuffed in a plastic bag and then dropped in boiled water or nuked by the microwave. Oh, those poor, poor broccoli. And the cute little peas. What did they ever do to you? Or do you wait for the carrot to die a natural death?

No. I am not going to eat roadkill. I know what I eat. Or at least as much as what I can know. I am not going to flinch when I see a picture of a dead animal getting slaughtered and packaged. I am going to look at it and then slap it on the grill.

I know it. I see it. I own it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Do you?

meat

I have been on the road for the last few days. One conference after the other. And it has been interesting. Okay, sometimes it was interesting. One of the conferences I attended was in DC and was hosted by the sustainability guru John Elkington. John founded… hum, SustainAbility. Catchy phrase nowadays. But it wasn’t when he started it back 20 years ago. John is a good guy. I know him a bit and went to DC to catch up with him and a few other people I knew I would meet up with at the meeting – the usual suspects. Jane Nelson works in the same city as me, but we only see each other at conferences. And, of course, we always promise to get together for a cuppa when back at work. But we never do – just share hugs and kisses when we meet up at the next conference. But us Africans need to stand together – even if it is at conferences. We are generally the only Africans in the room. She’s from Zim and I am from a little further south. Again, I digress. But I had to do a bit of name dropping first.

John and his gang did some research with Globescan on the perceptions people have of the environment. And one of the many findings was that people in developing countries are more hopeful than those on developed countries. Yes, Africans are more hopeful of the future than Americans. And everyone was puzzled about this. How could this be? Americans have everything – big cars, big televisions, big meals and big egos. Well, I was tired by this time as I have been on the road for a few days. And they made the mistake of asking me (and others) to comment and interrupt whenever I felt like it. Yes, now they had an angry and tired African on their hands. So I decided to use the chance and interrupt at every possible occasion. That meant I interrupted on every new slide they showed us. But for now I will focus on this survey result that had them baffled.

Like a good African I scribbled a few thoughts on a piece of paper and offered my infinite wisdom. (You could hear the crowd do a single large sigh – an unbuntu sigh). John humored me though. So why are Africans more hopeful than Americans about the future? Not that difficult. Let me try and give you four reasons. I am sure there are more – so feel free to fill in the gaps. And you might not even agree with me. So throw them my way as well.

1. Lower expectations.

Yep, we have lower expectations than others. We just don’t expect politicians to solve our problems anymore – not after so many years of not getting the results we expected from our elected leader. Many of us live under politicians that won’t solve our problems. And we have become aware of this. We don’t live under the illusion that they will provide running water, electricity, food, healthcare or stop fighting. Okay, Americans and other Westerners have had a few stinkers for leaders as well. But at least a few harmless politicians pop up every now and again. We suffer from political leaders that just won’t do the right thing. Make no mistake – we have some excellent leaders in Africa. But even their hands are tied. Where are they going to find the money to even start solving the problems? And if they try and get money? They have hell to pay through privatization and selling off the crown jewels. And it is not only the politicians – we know we will get even less form those outside Africa. All help will come with strings attached that will only pull us further down. No. We have low expectations because we know that others will not solve our problems.

So how does this translate into more hope? Easy. If your expectations are this low you know that tomorrow can only be better. You expect nothing so hope can’t get any lower. We start off at a low expectation, and there is only one way from there – up. Do you expect tomorrow to be better than today? Of course, because I expected nothing from today and got nothing. Tomorrow won’t be any worse.

2. Nothing to lose.

Of course Africans are hopeful of a better tomorrow because they have nothing to lose. Very similar to the expectations argument. No luxuries like televisions, cars, ample food, health, jobs or safety. You know that tomorrow will be beter, because it can’t be worse than today. You have nothing today. So how can tomorrow be worse?

It’s the problem with having such a strong middle class like in America – too much to lose. Any threat to what they posses – and hope goes out the window. The middle class will feel that tomorrow will be worse because the housing market is down and they could lose their jobs in the unstable economy. But if you don’t have that house and that job? How can tomorrow be worse?

(This relates closely to my argument that any revolution will only be successful if driven by the poor. Because they have nothing to lose but life itself. But so much more to gain – like life itself.)

Of course expectations and nothing to lose are closely tied together in hope. We don’t expect anything and we don’t have anything. But tomorrow can only be better. Because we might actually get that clean water from a tap and not have to walk for miles. And we might get that medicine instead of seeing our people die. Or the rain might come and save our crops. Our politicians and foreigners wanting to help might get it right and actually give us something to fish with. And the school might open for our kids to have a future. That’s the hope – our kids can’t possibly have it any worse than us. Can they?

3. Natural entrepreneurs.

We see it every day. Woman sitting next to the road selling their fruit and veg on the roads in Africa. With a hundred competitors on each side. And feeding a large extended family. Feeling sorry for her? Don’t. See Bill Gates. She is running a successful business with no financial support from anywhere. No business training. Hardly any schooling. She has everything working against her. But she runs that business like Bill can only dream of running his. Cost effective to the last cent. She is Africa. She is an entrepreneur. And entrepreneurs always see a better tomorrow. Always plan for a better tomorrow. Because tomorrow we trade. Without aid.

4. Ubuntu – we care for each other.

We know tomorrow can’t be any worse. Why? Because today wasn’t that bad to start off with. I have my neighbours and my friends. We look after each other. We live and breathe for each other. We hide each other when the warlord comes. And we look after the children of the dead when death comes. We have ubuntu. We are one. That is the greatest hope we have. That when tomorrow comes we will still be standing next to each other. Looking after each other. Sharing the pot with my neighbour. And we will all eat from that pot. Share the last bit. Because I am nothing without them. That is the hope. That being together brings tomorrow. And tomorrow can’t be that bad if we still have each other and can still live and play with each other a bit longer.

And in the West? There they live for themselves. Their closed off properties with the doorbell to ring. And the telephone to warn them we want to come and visit. And their television fence that keeps them indoors and away from others. And their cubicle jails at work. Just them by themselves. They don’t need others. That’s what they believe. But can they live like that and still have hope? Hope for what? Thank God the writer strike is over. Hope might be linked to that pen for them.

See – not rocket science. Africans have more hope than Americans. Easy as pie. We have nothing, but we share with others. Because tomorrow I will have because other will have. And maybe. Just maybe. Someone will get that bloody water to run from that tap they promised. Or the rain will come. And the medicine will arrive. And our leaders will listen to the sound of hope. The sounds of women selling their goods and the children playing in the street.

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