Poverty in Africa is real, but a dead lion gets more exposure
Three weeks ago, a tragic incident occurred in one of our neighbouring countries when the darling lion of Zimbabwe called Cecil was murdered.
This calls for a moment of silence.
Pardon me if I may come across a bit sarcastic, but the death of Cecil is starting to sound like a broken record.
Honestly though, Africa has more issues which have not been awarded an opportunity of dialogue, yet when a lion is killed, the issue has gone more viral than a virus affecting your computer.
Why is it that when a lion is murdered, it is afforded more dialogue than the poverty we see every day in Africa?
Cecil was killed at the Hwange National Park by Minnesota dentist Dr Walter Palmer with a bow and arrow in an incident which provoked international outrage.
According to media reports, Palmer paid £35,000 (N$690 934.78) to shoot the lion and return him to America as a trophy after decoying him off the government-protected land at the Hwange National park.
Now, as you are well-aware from the many media reports, the 13-year-old late Cecil was the park’s major tourist attraction. Just imagine that loss.
Palmer was assisted by the park’s guard known as Theo Bronkhorst, and according to recent reports, Bronkhorst may only get a £260 (N$5 126.55) fine, or a year in prison.
After the tragic incident, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority imposed a moratorium, which was removed 10 days afterwards in that area.
Again, pay no mind if you smell any sort of sarcasm.
In addition, reports have suggested that Palmer could face penalties as severe as a five-year jail term and a £12,900 (N$254 515.41) fine for breaching the Lacey Act, which enforces legal protection for endangered species around the world.
According to the Mirror website, a lawyer acting for the guide hired by Palmer revealed the shocking penalties after maintaining that he has conclusive evidence the rare black-maned beast was lawfully shot.
He also asserted that there is no charge in Zimbabwean law which may possibly be used to bring Palmer to trial if he was ever extradited back to Africa.
The website noted that Givemore Mvhiringi, the defence lawyer for hunt handler Bronkhorst, said: “Under the law, he can only get a fine of $400 (£260 or N$5 126.55), or one year in prison.
“There is no point bringing Walter Palmer back to Zimbabwe because there is no charge I can find under the law which can be brought against him.
He would not be tried under the same charges as Mr Bronkhorst,” Mvhiringi was quoted as saying by the website.
Mvhiringi averred that regardless of claims by Zimbabwe’s National Parks Authority that his client had broken several rules, the hunter acted within the current law.
Against the abovementioned background, I would like to ask: all this effort for a lion?
I am rather baffled that the late Cecil is getting so much attention, as opposed to all those starving children in poverty-stricken informal settlements in the rest of Africa, Zimbabwe included.
Of course, Cecil was very popular, and many people go to Zimbabwe to view the graceful beasts. But if you asked my opinion, I would say it is a little too much.
We have children starving. Most capital cities in Africa have large populations living in informal settlements, in real poverty, I mean.
The poverty-stricken populations in capital cities are higher compared to those who are well-off, or those who can care for themselves, yet a lion is killed and that news has received more coverage on the airwaves.
People are still talking about the murdered lion, but there are so many issues we have remained passive about.
These issues need to be dealt with immediately, instead of so much effort being focused on a lion which was old and was bound to die anyway.
My sincere apologies if this may sound insensitive, but fellow Africans, is it perhaps not time for us to move on and deal with pertinent issues?
Most Southern African Development Community (SADC) States are currently facing water issues; it is predicted that the region will face power deficits; and on top of it all, we have land issues.
Why waste all our resources and energy focusing on a lion which has already been killed?
Not a day goes by without the issue of Cecil being widely discussed in almost every Zimbabwe as well as international newspapers.
It’s time to move on.