UCT’s Jameson Steps has seen many demonstrations in it’s time. In the 1980’s students stood on those steps and burned the old South African flag – calling for an end to the violence and abuse of the apartheid era.
On 9 October the WORLD EGG DAY installation on Jameson Plaza caused a similar stir, as people spilled out of lectures to sit on the steps and eat their lunch. Facing them, were eight students clad in egg-yolk yellow leotards, crammed into cages for 1 LONG, hot Friday lunch-hour, calling for an end to battery farming for egg-laying chickens in South Africa. With shouts of “Free the chickens” & “Amandla, Awethu!” the demonstration was reminscent of days gone by.
Student Peggy Tunyiswa was one of those squashed into the small cage. She said : “It’s like slavery, we don’t support slavery anymore, so why would we do this to fellow creatures?” She went on to say : “It’s just like apartheid all over again, where one person thinks they are better than the other, and can treat them any way they like. People used to say that we were ‘just black’, so treat them any way you like, stick them in a cage. Why are farmers now doing this to animals? It’s just disgusting. How do they sleep at night?”
Another caged student, Mellisa Haiden, said : “Supermarkets just want to make as much money as they can, and they care nothing for the life of the creatures that provide our food. They know what’s going on. I think it’s horrific.”
Others called it “twisted”, “barbaric” and “sick”. Another asked :”What does it say about our society?”
Pumeze Rashe said : “Maybe it’s because people don’t actually know, but maybe it’s because they just don’t care! Why would anyone want to eat food that’s made like this? As human beings we are taught to have compassion, and yet they can do this to animals! Why?”
Sarah Terry said through the bars : “I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life! My legs hurt, I feel nauseus & chlostrophobic, someone else’s toenails are digging into my flesh, it’s just horrible.”
Dominika Jablonska said :”It’s only been 45 minutes, and yet it feels like it’s been about a month. If I knew that I had to sit here for the rest of my life, I’d go insane….I’d kill myself.”
Loren Loubser said : “Before this I was eating 30 battery eggs a month, without even giving it a second thought. Now I will never ever buy those cheap eggs again. I couldn’t do that to myself, never mind the chickens. I’m really sorry for the pain I’ve been part of up till now!
Passers by were at first intrigued by the caged spectable, but then expressed revulsion and pity, signing the petition to end battery eggs. One person said : “I will definately not buy battery eggs now, this doesn’t look right….so why would we want our food to live like this? It’s just horrible.”
Another passer by who heard the caged student’s complaints said :”If they are feeling like this after just 1 hour, imagine how the chickens must feel, and they can’t even talk! What can we do to stop this?”
And finally, a fitting comment on Jameson Steps : “There was a time we never thought we’d see an end to apartheid, but we did. Now for heavens sake let’s stop this atrocity against all our fellow creatures. Why would anyone do this? It’s all about money & greedy retailers, it’s sickening. We don’t want to eat food that’s made like this!”
It seems that for 18 – 25 year old South Africans – compassion definately does matter, and cruelty & abuse in food production is not something they want to be part of. These are the young professionals of tomorrow, whose spending power supermarket will want to attract – and whose views will be crucial for retailers’ market success.
The petition is at : http://www.activist.co.za/campaigns/2009/ethicaleggs.php
This is linked to a 2nd petition specifically for Woolworths Customers – asking Woolworths to live up to their word, and please stop using battery eggs in their food – this is at http://www.activist.co.za/campaigns/2009/woolworths.php
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