‘Bull dies quickly, painlessly’

2009-11-28 00:00

ZULU warriors who have participated in the ukweshwama ritual say the killing of the bull is quick and painless.

They maintain that the legal action launched by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) to halt the bare-handed killing of the bull at the Zulu kraal in Nongoma during this year’s annual Festival of the First Fruits is a sign that the organisation is ignorant of Zulu culture.

The warriors said that “the animal endures no more pain than it would were it killed in any other way”.

Nkosinathi Ndwandwe and his unit, Dakwa Ukusutha, were initiated as king’s warriors. Ndwandwe said the warriors know how to kill the bull quickly.

“When the bull is killed, it is a matter of seconds because the warriors break its neck quickly, minimising the suffering. The fact that a lot of people are grabbing it everywhere is irrelevant because it dies very quickly.

“The warriors grab the horns, the tail and the ears as those are its strong points and the bull goes down, and as they swing the neck, they break it and it is dead.”

Ndwandwe described it as a necessary sacrifice to pray for the strong health of the king. “This is a necessary cultural process; it’s a sacrifice for the good health of the king and an initiation process for the many young men joining the King’s warriors.”

He said the ritual is not a sport to entertain the crowds, but an important event in which only a selected few young men being initiated as king’s warriors are allowed to participate.

Praise singer Buzetsheni Mdletshe, another warrior who has participated in the ritual, agreed that there is no cruelty during the killing of the bull. “The bull is killed easier than all the other animals that are stabbed or shot.”

He said it is killed with bare hands so it does not bleed because it is given as a gift to appease the ancestors, protect the king and bring peace to the nation. “The bull chosen for the ritual is killed with bare hands so it does not bleed, as a sign that no violence should engulf the nation.”

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