Can a return to African cosmology halt the cruelty and senseless killings of lions and animals in general, for sport and other elitist, stupid reasons? Killing lions is forbidden in most of indigenous African culture, well according to a source from a very well-known knowledge keeper, or something of the sort. Culture, especially those of the Kalanga people, one of the more ancient names of the indigenous African people lightly meaning Children of the Sun, forbids this, the sun and lions being linked, and in many cases, exchangeable in a symbolic way. Don’t ask me to point to some law or document because i don’t have it, but there are very smart people who can help you with that.
Anyway the reality is that this rule of not killing lions is not actually observed uniformly throughout the continent, many countries allow trophy hunting in which lions, as with other animals are victims of that, a system so alien the much of Kalanga cosmology regarding the treatment of animals and such, but we shall only focus on the significance of the lion.
What’s all the fuss about?? an african cosmological context.
So what is it about Lions, why is the Zimbabwean government at arms? Well, I can’t speak on their motives, it could be purely strategic, if they did actually care I would think they would ban trophy hunting all together, tighten the laws in regards to poaching but who knows. I however can muse on the relationship lions have with the Zimbabwean people or African people in general, in terms of their place in cosmology.
So, Cecil, (weird name for a lion, but moving on) symbolises a mystery, perhaps to myself and those of us who are not within certain schools of thought, something about them, felines in general, is key to the indigenous African world view, a window to the ancestral world. As Zimbabwean, despite being raised in a Christian family, I was raised around a cosmology that ancestors appear to you as lions in your dreams, dream interpretation in this cosmology being quite literal in terms of ancestral visits, other spirits and the rest of those immeasurable stuff that haunt the hidden crevices of our minds. When seen outside, lions are an embodiment of ancestral spirits, Cecil would have probably been a returning great ancestor, possibly a Mutapa (emperor) or pharaoh by the fact of the world morning him. But that’s just musing and speculation, remembering, this is not about science and provable facts but a cosmological world view of a people. Not all lions are ancestors, but those who are walking on earth, assume the lion form.
This cosmology is not restricted merely to the southern African part, but most of Africa, The sphinx being a measure of how much this connection meant to the African people right up to the highest societies of the time.
A little ancient History
So how did it come to be? Well, those very smart, misunderstood, vaguely seen people we all hear through secondary sources, the keepers of the ancient traditions of the African peoples, different schools and societies which are very much supposedly closed to most of us, speak on the history between felines and African people being long, complex and deep, one of mystic cooperation existing between the two species, starting from the caves of southern Africa, millennia ago when our ancestors lived in them under the thumb of their main predator, the big cats. Myths of a pact being made told in mystical languages and oral traditions might just be about how we learnt to use felines to our advantage, or something more, resulting in how and why we are now the dominant species on earth, deeper still, of how the lions being representation of the sun, energy, life, this shows a great respect, African kings and Queens being initiated into what might be said are the lion mysteries, or at the very most, doing what people do, trying to assume the characteristics of the animal, courage, strength and all that Mufasa stuff. The Lion of Judah comes to mind, the emperor Halie Selassie posing next to lions, all of this, a signature in African history.
image credit (http://nakedchiefs.com/)
So before you think about hunting, realise what something might mean to a people, you never know, you might be murdering an ancient emperor roaming the earth as a lion, or a shaman roaming around as a lion, or the least likely, that it’s just a lion with a family to protect. Personally, killing animals for sport is just ridiculers and doesn’t need a cosmology to protect them, although the cosmology is one of the main factors animals where rarely treated with such cruelty, maybe we need to go back to some of these aspects, though human centric they might be, if it works, it works.