It's good to be the king. Or, in the case of Robert Mugabe, the self-appointed president-for-life of Zimbabwe.
As Philip Gourevitch wrote in his 2002 New Yorker profile of the revolutionary-turned-dictator, Mugabe is "an autocrat who rules exclusively for his own gratification, with contempt for the common good," and a man who "transformed what was once one of Africa's most prosperous countries into a domain of bloody disorder with one of the fastest-shrinking economies on earth."
But even with his country's economy floating in the toilet, he's still got a taste for the extravagant. And what better way to stroke your own ego than by eating the king of the jungle?
According to a report from The Guardian, Mugabe will celebrate his 91st birthday later this month "on a championship golf course at the Elephant Hills Resort, a luxury hotel with spa, swimming pool, and tennis courts" and a guest list that's pushing 20,000 attendees.
On the menu are two elephants, two buffalo, two sables, five impalas, and a lion, worth $120,000 in total. The meat will be donated by a local farmer, Tendai Musasa, of Woodlands Farm in Victoria Falls. Musasa is reportedly in talks with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to slaughter the animals a few days before the big celebration on February 28.
Expectedly, conservationists are not pleased.
Johnny Rodrigues, chair of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Guardian, "They have been doing this for years now. Every time there is a celebration or on independence day, several elephants and buffalo are killed for the celebrations."
Villagers near Victoria Falls aren't exactly happy, either. According to Zimbabwe's Chronicle, "Villagers said the animals involved were part of their annual hunting quota and donating them meant no income for the whole year. They said they were powerless because challenging the donation could be misinterpreted as unwillingness to participate towards the celebrations."
But Comrade Mugabe gets what Comrade Mugabe wants. Earlier this month, he had his administration scrub a page of embarrassing history, insisting that he did not fall down in front of dozens of reporters at Harare Airport in Zimbabwe. Except he totally did.
"Nobody has shown any evidence of the president having fallen down because that did not happen," insisted Information Minister Jonathan Moyo at the time, making clear the semantic difference between "tripping" and "falling."
"And to be honest with you," Moyo told Zimbabwe's state-run paper, "even Jesus, let alone you, would have also tripped in that kind of situation."
But what about the lion? What would Jesus eat?