Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Sheep, The Goat, and The Woman

We are having drinks at a café in down town Maseru. It is my first night out, and after so many security warnings it feels fun to be out and about on a Saturday night. I am in conversation with a man about my experience in Lesotho. I share with him about seeing a chicken killed, and admit that although I watched, fascinated, I do not yet know how to kill a chicken. He asks me, “But have you killed a sheep?” He is dressed in a classic turquoise polo of sheer cloth, and he takes a drag off his cigarette as he waits for my answer. He has two drinks, a red bull and a whiskey – both on the rocks.

I shake my head, “No, I have not seen a sheep killed.”

He smirks and shakes his head. He turns to another man, originally from Rwanda [we learn later]. “You. You know how to kill a sheep, right?”

The man smiles and shyly shakes his head, “No.” He pauses, then decides to continue. “No, but I know how to kill a goat.”

Both men knowingly nod, and then the man next to me looks away and takes a long drink. The man from Rwanda leans forward and looks at me. “A goat, it is very different. A goat, it will move his head like this,” and he twists and rotates his head around. “And it will make a lot of noise.”

The man next to me puts down his drink. “It is like a woman!” He laughs.

“Yes,” the other continues, “But a sheep…” His head falls to one side and he begins to stare at me with mock expectation. “… a sheep will just wait, and watch.”

Later I am reminded, “It is something that you will have to do to know that, yes, you are in Africa. You will have to kill a sheep.” He lifts his glass, raises it in my direction, then takes a long full drink.


  1. You know, come to think of it, it IS like a woman. I haven't (yet) killed a sheep or a goat, but I did come home a couple of weeks ago to find about 90% of a cow, mostly inside-out and backwards, in a pile next to my door.

  2. Wow. What a great post, Tam. You shed light on the experience in a way that i cannot. Sometimes pure, unaffected observation is the best way to explain something.

  3. I might have guessed you had a talent for writing, but....phew! I think I may use one of these with my 7th graders tomorrow.