Monday, April 6, 2009

Deborah in Kenya

Katika real life…
April 5, 2009 by deborachi

In Kiswahili the word Katika means in, on, or at. So, as you can imagine, it is used quite often in conversation. The other students and I like to use it in the phrase "katika real life…" followed by a description of something we’ve done here that we would never do back home in America. Like for example we say…

Katika real life…

…I would never just brush off a handful of ants off an old cookie and eat it as if nothing was wrong.

…I would never describe the color of my poop to a person I met only a few weeks ago.

…I would never get super excited about watching ridiculously cheesy Mexican soap-operas that are badly dubbed in English.

…I would never serve myself peanut butter before receiving bread.

…I would never come back from going to the bathroom in the ocean and in all honestly say, "that was the most pleasant bathroom experience I’ve had in days."

…I would feel scandalous because I’ve exposed my shoulders.

…I would affectionately pet a goat and then drink its blood and guts ten minutes later.

I’m sure you’re wondering about this last one so I’ll tell you more but be prepared to be grossed out.

Just a few days ago we visited a Masai community in Northern Tanzania. The Masai are famous for holding on to their tribal traditions and for making beautiful bead work. They are accustomed to sacrificing a goat or a cow whenever they have visitors and they were kind enough to do this for us.

The ceremony involved starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together and placing the hot wood ashes into a dry ball of cow dung. Then, two men placed the goat over a bed of leaves underneath a sacred tree. One man held the goat’s mouth shut while the other held its leg still. Everyone watched in silence as the goat slowly suffocated to death.

We listened to it moan and watched his struggles to break free become weaker and weaker. After about five minutes the goat was dead. Then, a few men carefully skinned it, cut its breast open, seperated its organs, ate its kidneys raw, and cut its head off. They then placed most of its organs and some meat into a pot of boiling water, roasted large chunks of meat on sticks over the fire, and then made a kind of soup inside of the goat’s breast cavity. The soup consisted of mostly blood, some flesh, and chucks of cooked intestines. They ripped a rib cage off and used it to scoop blood soup and to pass it around for everyone to try. Like almost all the other students I drank a bit of it. It tasted like what you taste when you bite your tongue but a little sweeter and less metallic.

I think when I go home I’m going to be a vegetarian again. And it’s not because watching that goat die and drinking its blood repulsed me and now I can’t stand the idea of willingly choosing to eat an animal. It’s actually because I know none of the animals I’ll eat will have died with as much dignity as that goat did.

The frozen cow I buy at Hannafords or Stop and Shop will not have been pet the last few minutes of its life, nor will it have been placed on a special death bed under the peaceful shade of a sacred tree. If the thought of eating a raw kidney straight out of a freshly killed goat seems barbaric to you, just think about a conveyor belt of cows hung upside-down by their legs and having their throats slashed systematically one-by-one.

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