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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora