Explain this logic.
I live in South Africa. A country at the southern tip of the African continent. A country that, at the moment, is being ravaged by evil from all sides. Sure, it’s only the world’s most corrupt politician, the world’s most expensive president and little things like that that’s creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust.
The logic I want explained, however, does not have too much to do with idiot politicians and their corrupt ways, but of the actual people I share this country with.
I’ve been sitting with the warehouse guys during lunch times these days. The only white person. The only female. I figured, the only way for me to know about how these people think and maybe try to make sense of it will be to share their down time with them. It’s been going well. We talk and laugh and teach one another all manner of things.
Alas. The chasm between Western and African society just keeps on gaping, even larger, ever deeper, becoming, for me at least, unfathomable!
Typhoid. It’s hit our shores. In a minor incidence, but it is here. Thought it’s not being transmitted by rats, mostly by bad sanitation and infected food, the conversation naturally turned toward rats and the illnesses they have caused – that we know of. I read an article that the black plague in Europe was a direct result of cats being killed for fear of them being witches familiars. If I’m incorrect in this instance, please correct me, but it makes perfect sense for people to do such a thing.
In the black community, however, it’s not black cats that gets the bad rep, although I suppose there is bound to be some or other witch doctor that brews potions with the feet or genitals of black cats, the bad rep in this instance is owls.
A while ago, in an effort to curb the rat population in one of South Africa’s biggest townships, Alexandra, the government built owl boxes and populated them with owls. Which was promptly killed by the community since owls are bad omens. This morning one of those community members said, in so many words, he would rather live with the rats than have an owl hooting outside his window.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the logic I want explained. That you would take the earth’s biggest, most prolific scavenger, the animal most likely to cause death and disease, a creature that decimates everything in it’s path, alive or dead and live with it. Because you’re scared of the sound an owl makes. Because you believe that it’s bad to see or hear an owl.
I know of the superstitions. That owls are harbingers of death. The night before my father died, my mom apparently heard an owl hooting outside. We do, strangely enough, live in the 21st century! Should things such as that not be less prevalent instead of more? Should people not know the difference between a vital part of the eco system and death?
The mind boggles. How do you get people to stop believing these kinds of things? I know there’s something like that in the Hindu religion too – I just don’t know any Hindi’s that’s been killing owls…
How do you, in actual fact, save a nation from their own antiquated and ingrained superstitions?
Long days and pleasant nights…