Controversial cow sacrifice plan for World Cup
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is expected to be blessed by the slaughter of one cow in each of its stadiums, the Makhonya Royal Trust proposed last week
The move is, according to the Trust's chairman Zolani Mkiva, "true African" but likely to upset animal right activist groups.
Mkiva explained the tradition: "We must have a cultural ceremony of some sort, where we are going to slaughter a beast.
"We sacrifice the cow for this great achievement and we call on our ancestors to bless, to grace, to ensure that all goes well. It's all about calling for the divinity to prevail for a fantastic atmosphere," Mkiva continued.
It will be the first ever World Cup staged in an African country and its organisers have been looking at ways to make it unique and put its past reputation to bed.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said: "There is great power in this (South Africa's hosting of the World Cup).
"It is a time to present a different story of the African continent, a story of peace, democracy and investment."
Animal rights groups, though, are demanding consultation with them and, while they would not object to the ritual, would like it performed in a humane manner.
The National Council for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has written to Fifa over the issue.
The plan is known to have support within the South African government, according to the Citizen newspaper.
Sicelo Shceka, the co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister, said: "The World Cup will be on the African continent and we will make sure that African values and cultures are felt by the visitors."
Officials from the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) have yet to respond to the request.
- by David Brenchley
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