© Sven Torfinn/MSF
18 Mar 14
Kimberly LarkinsKimberly LarkinsAmericanSwaziland

A funny thing happened on the way to the office

One morning I arrived to the office early and was greeted by the guard.

We exchanged pleasantries and I gave him my keys to unlock the building. He made a comment to the effect of "the meat arrived for the community event (as he made a gestured toward a black garbage bag sitting on the floor) and it's beginning to smell". 

In life we reach cross-roads and need to decide which path to take… for me I saw two options… say "uh huh" and walk into the building OR ask questions to figure out what the heck he was talking about. I suspect you have an idea of which road I took....

After my puzzled look and a hesitant question, he says "the cow head for the event today." Yup… that’s what he said. Again... walk away or clarify?

Sidla Inhloko 'eating-the-cow's-head' is an important tradition in Swaziland, where men, led by community chiefs or leaders, gather to eat a cow's head while discussing social issues. For community events in which MSF wants to engage men in conversation about HIV and related topics, the cowhead is one of the ways we do it.

The cowhead is boiled, often with the intestines, tail, and tongue by men, for men. Women aren’t invited (or welcome) to these events… and honestly, I can’t say I’m bothered by that.