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Cecil The Lion, Mugabe Fall And Mr. Ugly Contest Dominated 2015 Media Coverage


FILE: In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP)

FILE: In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP)

As the year 2015 comes to an end, there are many news stories that stood out during the course of the year. One of the top stories was the death of Cecil the lion, which resulted in rave media reviews worldwide resulting in a White House petition to deport its killer to Zimbabwe.

This was closely followed by a dispute over finding a man with the oddest facial features in the Mr. Ugly Contest and President Mugabe denouncing his own party before falling at the Harare International Airport.

Cecil the lion was killed in July in Zimbabwe’s north-western district of Hwange, Matabeleland North province, well-known for having the majestic Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya as it is commonly referred to by local people.

The death of the lion captured international attention as some sections of the Zimbabwean community and London researchers had classified it as a tourist attraction and research project.

The lion, which had an attractive black mane and prized for fathering several cubs as the dominant male, succumbed to its death when it was speared to death by American hunter, dentist Walter Palmer of Minnesota, who went into hiding after it emerged that he had killed one of the most-prized wild animals in Zimbabwe.

However, the global attention given to Cecil, left many ordinary Zimbabweans surprised, with many saying that they were not even aware that the lion was being used for research purposes and for attracting tourists.

Harare resident, Emmah Chandigere, says it was disturbing that some people mourned Cecil the lion when a human rights activist Itai Dzamara of Occupy Africa Unity Square was abducted by unknown assailants about nine months ago.

‘TOO MUCH MEDIA HYPE’

“The hype created by the media on Cecil the lion was too much considering that the large populace in Zimbabwe didn't know (anything) about Cecil the lion. No one knew who Cecil was up until the time he died. The hype was unnecessary given the standpoint that Itai Dzamara had gone missing and the hype given to the lion's death was more than that given to a human being, Itai Dzamara.”

Chandigere says the lion’s death was a wakeup call for the Zimbabwe National Parks to make citizens aware of important animals they have in the country.

“The hype only came out after the death of the lion. We never knew that there was Cecil before his death and I wonder what Zimbabwe National Parks is doing with regards to marketing such important (issues) if they are important to Zimbabwe as a nation. Why can't they conscientise people with regards to such animals.”

Fadzai Nhetembwe says the majority of Zimbabweans like her do not have the luxury of visiting parks and other tourism destinations as they live from hand to mouth.

“We were surprised to hear about Cecil the lion. We only knew him after his death. We do not have money to tour national parks or other tourism areas as we do not have the funds hence we heard about Cecil the lion after his death. We do not know about things that exist at our national parks and other tourism places.”

Another Harare resident, Prosper Dube, who was born in Hwange, says he was also not aware of the existence of Cecil.

“I didn't know anything about Cecil the Lion. I picked it from the media, firstly international media. I was surprised that such a lion existed in Hwange. When I heard the noise around Cecil the lion that is when I started researching on this lion and up to now am still researching. Cecil the lion had lesser impact on the Zimbabwean people and people were actually surprised why such an animal created such a hype.”

MANY PRESSING ISSUES – PRESIDENT’S FALL

However Amos Chikwukwa says it was sad that the local media had to pick the story from the international press. He believes that this is an indication that Zimbabwe has too many pressing issues.

“Surprisingly, it became a big story outside Zimbabwe first, while it had no space in the country. There is too much focus on the economy and political instability, etc. It points that Zimbabwe has other important things to focus on.”

Remember also the president falling at Harare International airport and when he also said pasi neZanuPF (down with Zanu PF).

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, center, falls after addressing supporters upon his return from an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, center, falls after addressing supporters upon his return from an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.

For Ostallos Siziba a former University of Zimbabwe Student Representative Council president, the two events clearly reflect that the president is now too old.

“What is clear is that President Mugabe is no longer even in control of himself physically. That was just a simple step he missed. It is a clear reflection that he is too old and can not run a country as this has an impact on the broader economy and political affairs of the country. (Mr.) Mugabe has been running the country with those slogans then suddenly he says pasi neZanuPF . It shows he has lost it and therefore he can’t run a country.”

Howevr for Ryan Dick,the media blew President Mugabe's fall out of proportion

“The fall is not a big issue. Anyone can fall young or old. We cannot blame him or his age for the bad economy, sanctions ruined everything.”

Another story that captured the attention of Zimbabweans and other people worldwide was a contest for finding the country’s ugliest man.

Two-time reigning champion William Masvinu called for a re-run accusing the judges of being biased towards the eventual winner Mison Sere.

Musvinu argued that Sere came fourth when he took the 1st prize in 2013 and asked what could have changed since he came with the same face?

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