End the Cruel Ukweshwama Ritual

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We, the undersigned, call upon the Zulu Community and all of its Leaders, to bring an end to the extremely cruel Ukweshwama ritual, which is next due to take place on the 4th of December, 2010, at Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal. The barbaric and extremely violent Ukweshwama ritual accomplishes nothing but the physical agony of an innocent being. A great many Zulu do NOT endorse this torture. Those that perform the Ukweshwama ritual do NOT represent all Zulus. Zulu identity and culture is not solely defined by this cruel ritual.

During this upsetting and horrifying event, a group of men frighten, torture and kill a bull with their bare hands. The bull suffers agonizing pain and fear for a long period of time. According to eyewitness description, "For 40 minutes, dozens trampled the bellowing, groaning bull, wrenched its head around by the horns to try to break its neck, pulled its tongue out, stuffed sand in its mouth and even tried to tie its penis in a knot they raised their arms in triumph and sang when the bull finally succumbed."

Such extreme violence and any celebration of a clearly suffering and defenseless, innocent being only serves to further desensitize humanity to all manner of violence. At this point in history there is irrefutable, documented scientific evidence that proves the link between violence towards animals and violence that is in turn perpetrated against people, and this ritual exploits that link.

According to experts in African religious practices, the Ukweshwama ritual is performed in part to ensure that the Zulu nation has "a strong army to defend the king's subjects." But this in and of itself makes the ritual archaic, as South Africa is not at war. There is no Zulu army, only one national military force, supported via tax-payer money, and there are other, more effective ways (that are already employed and overseen by legislation, regulation and policy) to ensure that the Zulu nation is respected and protected. 

We, the undersigned stand in world-wide solidarity to state unequivocally that the Ukweshwama ritual has no place in a democratic South Africa or a democratic, civilized world, and like any acts of torture committed in any land, must not be condoned by society. It is time to call this ritual out on what it really is - UNNECESSARY AND CRUEL - and embrace change. Traditions and cultural practices need to evolve in any society. Tradition is not an excuse for cruelty nor is any society enhanced via cruelty. We beseech the Zulu leadership to become one of the many advanced societies that seek to end any practices, traditional or otherwise, that cause such unnecessary and terrible suffering.