News / Africa

Zuma Calls Dog Ownership 'Un-African'

Anita Powell
South African President Jacob Zuma prompted howls of controversy when he said in a recent speech that black people should not keep dogs as pets because it is "un-African." His speech was well-received by the audience in his home province, but it has landed him in the doghouse in the national media and prompted the presidency to issue a statement defending his comments, which they say have a deeper meaning.

Zuma said earlier this week in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal that dog ownership was a hallmark of white culture and that people who love their dogs more than other people have a “lack of humanity.”

Zuma has said many controversial things in the past. Earlier this year, he said that women should not be single and that motherhood is “extra training” for women. He also famously described same-sex marriage as “a disgrace to the nation and to God."

But none of those pronouncements has brought out the claws like this one. Many South Africans, it seems, feel they have a dog in this fight.

Twitter filings were instantly littered with proclamations of puppy love and photos of prominent black South Africans with their dogs. There was even an old photo of anti-apartheid icon and former president Nelson Mandela hugging what appeared to be an enormous Rhodesian ridgeback.

More seriously, critics accused the president of race-baiting in a country that has for decades struggled with inequality and until the 1990s was under white minority rule.

But for South African dog owners, the issue is not black or white.

Winifred Sangcosi, a 57-year-old housekeeper in KwaZulu-Natal, sits on the committee of the Fundanenja Township Dog Training Initiative.

Here’s what she thinks of Mr. Zuma’s remarks.

“I must say, it’s wrong" she said. "Why, because, the dogs, is the part of the family.”

At that, Sangcosi launched into an ode to Salon, her mixed-breed dog who kept her company for 16 years. Salon tirelessly followed her throughout the house and when she ran errands. She barked at strangers and welcomed friends. She was, in Sangcosi’s words, “a very good dog.”

But presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj says Zuma’s comments are being incorrectly interpreted. It is not an attack on dogs, he says, but a defense of South African black culture, which has been ripped apart after decades of oppression.

“He was not saying that animals should not be loved or cared for, but what he was saying is that we should not elevate our love for our animals above our love for other human beings," said Maharaj. "And he gave an example in this context. He said, “we see people even today, driving in a van or a truck with a dog in the front seat. And sitting in the back in the rain and the most cold weather, will be an African worker.’”

Zuma’s comments don’t address what the nation is to do with its hordes of homeless animals.

The National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals handled nearly 750,000 animals in South Africa last year - most of them dogs and cats - said executive director Marcelle Meredith. She says those animals are adopted by South Africans of all races.

Meredith says the SPCA was “appalled” by Zuma’s statement, especially since the organization counts Mandela among its patrons.

“We also don’t believe that there is any foundation or research or fact that has gone into the statement that he has made," said Meredith. As far as animals, we have many many people of color, not just black people, there are many people of color in our country, who come to our SPCAs to adopt animals, they take on animals, they attend dog shows, they display their animals and are very proud of having animals.”

Zuma may have to take these jibes for a while, but it’s unlikely to challenge his status as head of the pack. Earlier this month, he was again elected as leader of the ruling African National Congress, a step that makes him a shoo-in for the presidency in 2014.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video Empire State Building Highlights Cecil the Lion

People gathered in streets and rooftops in Manhattan to see the image highlights that covered 33 floors of the building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Losako Mpaka from: RDC
January 05, 2013 1:33 PM
Zuma first name is Jacob. His brothers first names are:Michael and Joseph. Two of his wives names are Gertrude and Gloria. Zuma's son first name is Edward. Those name are from Europeans who were our masters.And to glorified his master Zuma still keep the name Jacob and names his son Edward. Zuma believes in the bible and is protestant , therefore Zuma has rejected his ancestors believes. So, before talking about dog , I think that Zuma needs to know who really he is himslelf.
Rabin Jacob, culturally you are a white man, as a black person you still have to get out of the frame that the white man framed you.,You have a white man name and you believe in the bible who was imposed to your ancesters by white man.

by: Kanyiswa from: E Cape
January 02, 2013 11:15 AM
JZ once again INSISTS on remaining an ignorant, uneducated individual. He and the many others who try uselessly to defend his actions, are so obsessed with 'hanging onto African culture' that they are consciously chosing to ignore all else, even if it is for the greater good, even if the rest of the world considers it progress, or a better way of doing something! But yet they all drive big EUROPEAN cars, use WESTERN social media forums and clothe themselves in non-african wear.

Give these neanderthals an island of their own and let them live in the past if that's what they so badly want - the rest of the world doesn't want or need their toxic influence! The ANC is hanging on by a thread and this is yet another desperate attempt to persuade us he's 'all for the African people' - no, you're not JZ and we are not as stupid as you think - we see what's going on and (thanks to 'western encouragement' to think for ourselves) we won't tolerate it for much longer.

by: richardsm from: Dar es salaam
December 29, 2012 2:57 PM
I Agree with Zuma, is very right.... but the media (owned by white) have misunderstood the statement

by: Samuel Slyme from: Cape Town
December 28, 2012 3:24 PM
Zuma is first and last an unregenerate Zulu traditionalist, a factional Zulu leader who managed to clinch the presidency of the country by political manipulation, intimidation and cheating. Just about everyone, except the most traditional and least educated among his own Zulu people, are laughing at his clumsy antics and waiting for Humpty Dumpty to fall. Something like 400 very serious charges of corruption were brought by the prosecuting authorities against him in 2008, which he managed to dodge by means which will soon be revisited by the courts. The charges may well be reinstated again, in which case his future looks bleak and the only term he will serve will not be a presidential terms, but a very lengthy term somewhere else.

It would be a mistake for the international community to regard him as a popular leader among all South Africans, black or white, and to judge the country by his embarrassing behaviour. At least half the population despise him, and many more question his leadership.

The USA had its Nixons and George W's. We have Jacob Zuma. Democracy can play strange tricks.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs