My family, one of the most wealthy in the village, is known for having lots of animals. There are a dozen cows, likely 50 sheep, two horses, three donkeys, four dogs, two cats and a pig.
The pig is often tied up near my latrine. Every morning, I greet the pig but it rarely says hello back. When my vegetables go bad, I usually serve them up to the hairy creature and, although he snorts in disapproval, he always eats them.
Pork is like fine wine here in Lesotho. It is one of the most treasured of meats, followed by the cow, then the sheep and finally the chicken, because it is the cheapest. Any meal of worth has meat, and if it is a super special occasion, there is pork.
I’ve often wondered when the pig would have its day with the knife. I assumed it would be Easter, then my sister’s wedding. But both events came and went and the pig lived.
This week, my host brother is graduating from university. It will be another big family celebration. This week they have begun making the traditional beer and cleaning the houses. Also, slaughtering the animals.
On Monday, when I went out to run, my ntate told me he was going to kill the pig. When I came back, sure enough, it was dead.
A part of me had wanted to watch the killing, for the experience, but I am kind of glad that I didn’t. I liked that pig. We were friends. Seeing him dead on a wire frame as two men shaved his hair was a little sad, since I am sometimes a vegetarian in Africa, but I knew that this pig lived a good life and his life was given up for a good cause.
When I went to the other side of the house, I saw three sheep, also being skinned and cut into piece. This is going to be a big feast.
In America, we get most of our meat from the freezer section, unless you like to catch it yourself. If you are not a hunter, you don’t realize all the blood and guts that goes along to make that BLT, but having meat on your plate it is much more than grilling a few slabs on something. The Basotho know that and they respect it, why meat, along with price, is such a value here.
Slaughtering is a big deal and many people are involved. There were at least five men helping my ntate kill the animals and two women helping my ‘m’e clean out the innards. Just like Native Americans with the buffalo, they use every piece. I’m told the head, which makes a smiling face when burned, is exceptionally good. I will take their word for it.
Even as vegetarian, I can understand how much meat means to the Basotho and I can appreciate it.
Later in the day, when I went to my latrine, I was a bit sad not to see my pig friend there. Yet, I know, come Wednesday he is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces.
My pig friend, I am sure you are delicious.