Load of Bull

Travelling by train in SA is dangerous business, and i’m not just talking about those commuters who think it’s a good idea to do so on the roof of the carriage, or while leaning out the jammed-open door. When you’re not being mugged or your train isn’t crashing into a truck at a level crossing, you’re trying to escape the carriage while rioters (sorry, I mean strikers engaged in peaceful industrial action) set it on fire.

So what does Metrorail and the SA Rail Commuter’s Association decide to do about this issue? They slaughtered a bull at Khayelitsha station.

It was a cleansing ceremony with a difference – people from all South African religions were represented with one objective: to ask for divine intervention to reduce horrific train-related accidents and attacks.

Unusually, the bull that was slaughtered at Khayelitsha railway station yesterday did not bellow despite being jabbed in the chest with an assegai [traditional spear] and having its throat slit.

According to Xhosa culture this may have meant that the sacrifice was not accepted. But Dr Mathole Motshega, of the Kara Heritage Institute, who led the cleansing ritual, said the event aimed to be inclusive of all cultures and focus on the features the various religions had in common.

Right, because I’m sure the Hindu population of South Africa thought it was a lovely ceremony.

It was the first ceremony of its kind and could be extended to all regions where Metrorail operates.

Take note, the organising bodies are respectively a division of the parastatal Transnet, and an agency of the Department of Transport, so their reaction is a government sponsored reaction, and paid for in part by your taxes.

For some of the train accident survivors and the families of people killed on trains, in whose honour the SA Rail Commuter Corporation and Metrorail arranged the ceremony, the occasion opened old wounds.

For the bull, it merely opened new ones.

This kind of superstitious nonsense has no business being pushed by secular state bodies, any more than the Department of Health should be urging people to use traditional medicines in lieu of seeing doctors. Just because it’s someone’s ‘culture’ doesn’t make it effective or ethical.


9 Responses to “Load of Bull”

  1. but it is rather entertaining: aren’t we all proudly south african?

  2. Last week, my local community newspapers carried photographs of city’s Acting Chief Fire Officer, Sebastian Martin, opening a Scientology centre in Table View. He was in uniform and it seems to have been an official appearance.

    I actually find this more offensive than the cow slaughter. Dead cows are tasty, whereas Scientologists are just irritating.

  3. I’m third generation English ex-pat (or is it second). I’m so entrenched in the middle class that it would take land invasions to move me.

    There are many, many things about South Africa I don’t like. There are many things that fill me with dread (like looking at parallels between Zim and us). There are a very few things I like (bizarrely, for me, the way mixed cultures mostly get along in a friendly fashion.)

    Yet I’m still, irrationally, glad I’m South African. Mostly when I’m not thinking about South Africa.

  4. I hope they don’t kill animals at my station – yuk! If they like their traditional methods so much don’t use a modern invention – walk, that is traditional.

  5. TW: only as long as we’re not Hindu – i mean come on, there are at least three Indian languages spoken in SA, and none of them qualify as official. You don’t get an official language, you don’t get included in the statement ‘inclusive of all cultures’. I mean, they only went through centuries of slavery in a foreign land, it’s not like they have really suffered or anything.

    Salman: your local community newspaper isn’t the Table Talk & Mail, is it? Because if it is, I so need to find that article.

    Andy: my problem with this particular issue is that the govt has absolutely no business conducting a religious ceremony, regardless of how many religions and cultures they tried to include. That, and the fact that it’s a deplorable waste of time, money and effort that will have zero effect, because it’s appealing to magic sky fairies that don’t exist. Better spend the money on actually making train travel safer.

    nantalith: yip, people are traditionalists only when it suits them to be so.

  6. well, i have to admit that i don’t know too many south african indians, but i recall the ones lurking in sandton in packs and somebody being stabbed in the eye with a screwdriver.

    having said something totally irrelevant and racist (that incident only sticks out because it was so unexpected, and all the indians i know personally are normal people [although somewhat difficult to understand sometimes if they’re straight from the subcontinent]), i’m going back to my original point that there’s very little that can be done for the rainbow “nation” until there’s a baseline education and cultural advancement of some form.

    you’ll probably find that the goverment doesn’t really consider hindus to have a “religion” in the same way that they don’t protect anyone else’s inalienable rights unless they’re a shade darker and not earning their keep.

    oddly enough, i *am* proudly south african. i don’t know why.

  7. (by my second to last statement i meant that the blacks who are being good citizens aren’t well protected either)

  8. I’m not defending it; just saying that for all the truly bizarro, criminal (hello Zuma, sue Moonie, not me) and basically incompetent things our government does, I still like it here.

  9. TW: you might be interested to know that at 1.2% of the population vs. 0.3% of the population, Hindus outnumber you Jews 4:1 😉 Yet both Jewish and Muslim (1.5% of the population) elements were included in the ceremony. The most imporant element of any Hindu ceremony would be not killing the bull so i guess that would have been tricky for them.

    Andy: i hate that people have to say that they like it here despite just about everything about the country. I want to just be able to say “i like it here” instead of adding the qualifiers.

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