Not only in Liberia
Ritual Killings in other countries
When exposing the atrocities committed by a small number of people it was neither my intention to stigmatize a particular group of people or tribe nor did I want to suggest that ritual murders only happen in Liberia. In fact, I am convinced that they happen in many, if not all, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – and maybe also in countries on other continents.
Also in 2003, it was reported that MLC rebels in North-east Congo had killed and eaten people – both for ritual purposes and in order to frighten their enemies. A special team of the United Nations, sent down to investigate the accusations, confirmed the rumors.
The list is long but probably incomplete. Very
likely, there is serious underreporting of ritual murder cases in
French-speaking African countries since the focus of my research lies on
English-speaking countries. However, a number of cases are reported in
French-speaking countries. I apologize to readers who do not read French though
a translation of the heading and main issue will be provided.
Medicine men, ordinary people, rebels, army personnel, politicians, even presidents allegedly have been implicated in ritualistic killings. The accusations against former Liberian President Charles Taylor (1997-2003) have already been reported. He is in illustrious company: former Ugandan President Idi Amin (1971-79) and Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the short-lived Central African Empire (1977-79) also were accused of ritualistic practices and cannibalism.
The sad list is long - too long to continue here - and will not be final since this concerns a continuing practice. Readers who are interested may follow the links below to know more about ritual murders in various African countries. It is just a sample and, without any doubt, just the top of the iceberg. Some links relate to concrete, recent cases of ritualistic killings, others refer to unproven rumors. Be that as it may, it is certain that for many people in Africa ritual practices is a reality – a frightening reality.
People have a right to live without fear. They are entitled to protection by the
State. Governments have an obligation to protect
their citizens and to uphold the rule of law - prosecuting offenders. We see -
increasingly - in many countries the occurrence of mob justice, sometimes even
encouraged by those in government who fail to protect their citizens. Both
ritual murders and mob justice must stop - and governments must enforce the rule
Recently, the 2008 wave of ritual killings of albinos in Tanzania and neighboring countries such as Burundi, Uganda and Kenya have led to a storm of international protests. Newsmedia widely covered these criminal acts and UNICEF and the European Community condemned the ritual murders of albinos, but the problem is much more widespread as the following shows.
What is a muti murder?
"A muti murder is the killing of a person in order to use their body parts for muti – African traditional medicine. The parts will often be taken from the victim shortly before death. Genitals are often taken for fertility spells. Internal organs are often taken, as are breasts, hands and feet.
African traditional medicine is not always magical in its methods, but it's safe to assume that any method, that for instance, requires you to cut off the genitalia of a fertile man, the hands of a prosperous business rival, or remove a man's liver while his dying screams give the medicine its potency is an attempt at magic of the blackest kind.
Often the sangoma will tell the client what parts are necessary for the spell, but will leave the deed up the to the client. Money often changes hands, and a complete stranger is seldom targeted. A family member or acquaintance is preferred.
The murder of eight-year-old Victoria
Climbié almost seven years ago highlighted the rare but deeply
disturbing practice of ritual abuse in the UK.
Teachers and people working with children are
being given guidance on how to identify signs of ritual abuse inflicted
in the belief that a child is possessed by evil spirits.
© fpm van der kraaij