Zimbabwean Explains His Take On America's Reaction To Cecil's Death

Goodwell Nzou doesn't understand all the fuss over the death of Cecil the lion.

The doctoral student at Wake Forest University is a native of rural Zimbabwe where he claims lions are viewed primarily as soulless killers.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Nzou wrote Cecil the lion was not a "local favorite" or a creature who was "beloved" by the Zimbabwean people, despite what the media reported.

He recalled a lion that killed several chickens, goats and a cow near his home when he was 9 years old.

Children were then told not to walk to school alone or play outside, according to Nzou.

When his mother retrieved firewood, his father and brothers guarded her with machetes, axes and spears to protect her from the lion.

He wrote,

The lion sucked the life out of the village: No one socialized by fires at night; no one dared stroll over to a neighbor's homestead.

The animal's eventual death sparked celebrations, and no one gave a second thought as to whether or not the killing was legal.

Nzou had a similar reaction to Cecil's death.

He said,

The village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine.

He noted, while his people do view wild animals in a spiritual light, they are still well aware as to what would really happen should one of them come face to face with a hungry predator; a 14-year-old teen in a Zimbabwe village was recently killed by a lion, and a snakebite led Nzou to lose his leg when he was 11 years old.

The Zimbabwean also wonders why Americans are so broken up about Cecil when roughly 800 nameless lions were killed by hunters over the past 10 years.

Nzou argued the baby elephant reportedly killed for the Zimbabwe president's birthday feast would be a more understandable reason for such sadness.

In the op-ed, he said,

We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people. Don't tell us what to do with our animals when you allowed your own mountain lions to be hunted to near extinction in the eastern United States.

Nzou ended his op-ed by asking Americans to focus all this outrage on the wrongful deaths of the African people.

Citations: In Zimbabwe We Dont Cry for Lions (The New York Times)