Change must come: A plea for an Affirmative Urban Livestock Ordinance in Detroit

By Atieno Nyar Kasagam.

In a country where Zoo’s are the norm, ie where caging/enslaving animals is the norm, we are educated/socialized into the mis-assumption that animals are not intelligent or sentient or emotional beings (except dogs- coz y’all love your dogs and cats here dow)…

It is the norm also, therefore, and it is tolerable to raise livestock in the most despicable conditions- confinement into ridiculously small spaces, restrictions from normal social relations with other members of the species and other animals,restricted and mostly GMO diets, and general cruelty during life and death: all of which is permissible by the FDA, USDA etc and considered compliant with industry standards.

It’s like the culture of enslaving and brutalizing ‘lesser’ beings is in the DNA of America.
Everything – every being- exists at the service of those who imagine themselves to be at the top of the pyramid. And their existence will just be that- existence- just enough food, space, resources to exist- not to thrive, not to experience pleasure or to enjoy a full, natural and wonderfully complex life.

Yaa and Wangari are not like “children”, dependent, helpless, unknowing…. To me, they are an embodiment of our ancestors.
They are nubian goats, originally from Nigeria, who we named, after great African women, Yaa Asantewaa, warrior queen of the Asante, and Wangari Maathai, environmentalist/feminist/revolutionary and nobel laureate from Kenya.


Photo by Alexandre de Veiga


Of course we were not going to keep the English names, ‘Sue’ and whatever else the previous steward farmer had offered, with all due respect (she was a kind and nurturing lady), we were bringing these African goats into an African home and we were invoking and inviting our ancestors into their bodies, and into our home.

They need a little help here and there- but it is an honor to do so, to nurture them as they nurture us. To give them company, as they accompany us, and teach us, and speak to us, and crack us up from time to time with their antics.

It’s not easy.
It’s not all romantic.
It’s unimaginable to many people.
Disgusting even- when we offer them fresh milk or home made yoghurt.
What a world we live in!
Sigh.I struggle with the possibility that perhaps it is us, who are doing the absurd-
seeking the absurd-
imagining the absurd-
waiting on the absurd-

charivari 212.jpg

Photo by Alexandre de Veiga

But change comes,
Change comes.
Change must come.



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