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Ankole cattle. Photo: DAVID LEWIS/FLICKR
Ankole cattle. Photo: DAVID LEWIS/FLICKR

There’s much more than bluff and bluster behind the president's Ankole cattle (“Are Ankole cattle really worth millions, or is it all bull?”, June 20.

It’s the “aesthetic sense” that drives romantic love and “launched a thousand ships” to retrieve Helen from Troy. In this case it’s the African pride of President Cyril Ramaphosa, drawing on the aesthetic sense of a subcontinent whose ancestors counted their wealth in cattle, as much as they counted their blessings in pula (rain).

We can’t be sure whether those beautiful horns evolved by natural selection, like the magnificent plumage of peacocks, bred by Darwin’s “sexual selection”. Perhaps our ancestors’ sense of aesthetics contributed to the beauty of those iconic Ankole cattle?

They are stunning, aren’t they? And they must have a history that might go back further than the pyramids of Egypt. Perhaps our genetic scientists can cast more light on that, as they have on Philip Tobias’s African genesis?

Siegfried Hannig
Via email

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