Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cow slaughter on the way to class

I am on my way walking towards the terrain at 7:30am to teach my gym class as usual when I notice 4 men holding some sort of animal beneath one of the trees bordering the terrain. As I get closer I realize that it is a full grown cow being held by all 4 legs. There is one man skinning the cow with a machete and people are walking by barely even glancing at this rather grotesque scene. One of my students was with me as we walked by and she found it funny how I found this scene so strange and rather amusing. I told her how at home I go to the supermarket and I buy my meat already packaged and cleaned which she found very surprising. Yes, this is one big cultural difference between Africa and North America. I then continued on my way to the terrain to teach my class where only 5 girls showed up to. During the class I would look over and see the machete coming down hard and loud on the head of the head of the beast and every time I saw and heard the noise I would say, “pauvre vache.” Poor Cow! As I leave the terrain I pass by again and the men are in the process of pulling out all the intestines. They manipulate the intestines quickly and with ease as the steam rises from the recently terminated beating heart. It is a gruesome sight: the legs lying on a bed of branches, the gaping rib cage revealing the heart and intestines and four large men with bloody hands and machetes. I am pretty sure the meat was for a “fete” of some sort, but could they not have chosen a proper place to slaughter a full on cow rather than between the high school, the playing field and the main meeting hall. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Africans really are savage-like”, which I know sounds very racist but in fact it is more of their way to survive. If you are not able to live off the land and work the land you will find many difficulties. Our volunteer house here is not at all embracing the “Congolese way of life.” We have a fridge, electricity, a gas stove, a strong house with windows made of glass, running water and toilets. Many of the people here live in round houses made of mud and wood and straw roofs. The doors of the huts have a piece of cloth that hangs in front and each room is separated by cloth that hangs from the wooden beams of the roof. One has to go to the market many more times without a refrigerator and to cook it takes much more time when you have to cook over a fire. All in all, the Congolese living conditions require much more endurance than us North Americans and the ability to embrace what the earth provides and work the land. This is a little bit off topic from my cow slaughtering experience but just thought I would share a little more.

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