Zimbabwean cheers Cecil the lion's death, mocks 'absurdist circus' of U.S. grief, in NY Times op-ed

Cecil the lion
(Image credit: Andy Loveridge/AP)

One of the best parts of The Onion, and a staple of news satire, is the point/counterpoint format. In Wednesday's New York Times, op-ed contributor Goodwell Nzou provides a real-life counterpoint to the prevailing U.S. outrage of the killing of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion allegedly killed by a Minneapolis dentist.

When he read about Cecil's demise, "the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine," writes Nzou, who is working toward a PhD in molecular and cellular biosciences at Wake Forest. And when he found out that the dentist is being treated as the villain, "I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I'd experienced during my five years studying in the United States." He continues:

Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being "beloved" or a "local favorite" was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from The Lion King? In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror. [Nzou, New York Times]

Nzou goes on to wonder why "Americans care more about African animals than about African people," then puts Cecil's death in a bit of context: "Americans who can't find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation's demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president's most recent birthday banquet." Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.