The story of the killing of a Zimbabwean lion named Cecil by American hunting dentist with bow and arrow has been shown in 24 hours cable news for some time now. But one thing for sure, the emotional capital and its sentimental significance that the international news media vested on the coverage cannot be overemphasized. But who can be blamed for such a huge coverage knowing the damage the trophy hunting dentist has done to Zimbabwean wildlife.
Poaching in African wildlife is reaching an explosive dimension and the killing of the bravura and dignified lion which was barbaric, repugnant and depressing was the zenith.
Beyond the schmaltziness, the event conjures a metaphor that is reflective of the wellbeing of Africa and Africans as they struggled to liberate themselves from the legacy of slavery and colonialism. The unbridle weakness of law and order in Africa has been extended to the inability to protect Africa’s natural resources and ecosystem from perilous outsiders.
But foremost let’s reflect on what happened to the dignified Agu (lion) named Cecil as narrated by Katie Rogers of New York Times:
“Cecil, a 13-year-old lion, wandered out of his sanctuary in a national park in Zimbabwe this month, following the scent of a potential snack. At the other end of Cecil’s search was a lure, placed there by hunters who, conservationists say, wanted their prey to cross into unprotected territory so they could kill him. Cecil, well known to those who visited the Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was beheaded, according to conservation officials. His corpse was left to rot in the sun. Zimbabwean officials said that Dr. Walter J. Palmer, an American hunter known for killing big game with a bow and arrow, killed Cecil, and was being sought on poaching charges. Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Cecil was lured out of a protected game preserve one night in early July by a hunting party that tied a dead animal to a car.”
When the event was reported in the 24 hours cable news the faces and voices of Zimbabweans were not adequately highlighted and shown. The event might as well happened in California or New York, as the news did not give an ample coverage to those that are living in the land where the lion was killed. The government officials should have been interviewed to find out how such an ugly event took place without the authoritative consent of the government officials.
Significantly, what happened to the lion was more or less the story of the continent of Africa with regards to the ramification of slavery and colonialism. With coming of the foreign invaders and conquerors, Africans were subdued and forever changed, if not silenced from who they used to be. Africa lost herself – history, dignity and sagacity of direction, particularly her sense and sensibility which maybe forever altered.
Why was the lion named Cecil? Is the name Cecil an African name? A passive observer and small-minded historian may ask the question: what’s in name and why highlighting the name? The name given to the lion has shown that Africa and Zimbabwe have even lost the right to name animals in her ecosystem. It may not be necessarily important but it shows a dislocation that makes it possible for a tourist with collaboration of the natives to senselessly killed a dignified lion in a game park without thinking twice.
Can the killer of this African lion go to a zoo in the western world and kill a lion without thinking of any consequence? But everything and anything goes in Africa… Yes he can do it in Africa with impunity because of sense of privilege and arrogance that are unchecked in the lawless and chaotic Africa?
Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.