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…

7 comments on “Please.

  1. Superstition runs through all cultures. Best advise that I can give is to be very curious to learn about other cultures and that way you will understand their superstitions better and accept it, but do not hesitate to tell them how similar is seen from the point of the white cultures. Oh, by the way I love owls.

  2. Deeply ingrained, to be sure. Though, I don’t see this instance (owls) being very different from other cultures and their beliefs. After all, it is just a belief; albeit one that is causing, and will cause, more death and destruction.
    I recall a move I had many years ago. I had been living there for a short period when a car mounted the curb and crashed into the brick fence surrounds. It created a huge ‘bang’, which brought out all the neighbours to inspect the scene. One woman, a Greek lady, immediately started shouting – “You are a jinx; you must be a jinx; we’ve never had anything like that happen before you came.” I, very angrily, told her not to be silly as I administered to the car occupant, and my smashed fence.
    I doubt there’s anything that can change these superstitions. A new generation may, with education, begin the change; though, it can be awfully slow – it’s so pervasive!

  3. black cats….serpents…..spiders…white cats….werewolves…vampires…..spooks and spirits of all kinds …..tokoloshe…angels …demon…fairies……satan……god…..endemic to the human race and present in each and every race religion and culture…..and still some people recon human beings are the most intelligent creatures on earth….ggp

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