Inside the mind of a cannibalBy NYAMBEGA GISESA | Wednesday, June 6 2012 at 14:38
It did not start with the Kenyan student in America, Alexander Kinyua, who is suspected of killing his housemate and eating his heart and part of his brain.
CNN reported that the electrical engineering student’s father told the Maryland police that he came across two metal tins containing the head and two hands of Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, Kinyua’s Ghanaian housemate, covered with a blanket in the family basement laundry room.
The rest of the remains were found in a rubbish bin.
Kinyua’s case is not an isolated one.
Last month, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the Miami-Dade police department shot and killed a 31-year-old man identified as Rudy Eugene after he refused to stop eating another man’s face in Miami on 26 May.
The police are still looking for Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, a suspect in the gruesome case of severed body parts found in packages mailed to Ottawa, Ontario.
In a list of six cannibalism cases that took place in the past few months, the website Huffington Post reported that Mao Sugiyama, a self-described “asexual” from Tokyo, removed his genitals in a surgical operation, cooked them, and served them hot to five people while a former employee of a Swedish medical university is accused of cutting off his wife’s lips and eating them after he allegedly flew into a rage.
Cannibalism is perhaps the ultimate cultural taboo and crime in the same rank as raping the dead, but it has been with us since time immemorial.
Experts say reasons for cannibalism range from cultural purposes to survival when there is no food and the only alternative is starvation. However, some sick minds eat human flesh for pleasure.
One of the first recorded accounts of cannibalism was reported after Christopher Columbus’ discovery voyages to the West Indies. Europeans visiting the Caribbean later heard tales of the inhabitants of the islands eating the flesh of slain enemies in a post-war ritual.
On 9 February, 1874, American gold prospector Alfred Packer and five colleagues left on an expedition to the Colorado Mountains but he returned alone two months later.
Questioned about the whereabouts of the rest of his team, he said he killed them in self defence and ate them in order to survive. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison but was granted parole because sufficient doubt remained about the crime.
On 16 January, 1936 a US court sentenced Albert Fish to be executed for kidnapping, killing, and consuming a 10-year-old Manhattan girl. Fish was described as a true life monster that was sadistic and delusional.
On 11 June, 1981, Issei Sagawa a Japanese student studying in Paris, shot a classmate and ate her over two days. When he was arrested, Sagawa was deemed unfit for trial due to insanity and was deported to Japan, where a paperwork error ensures
that he is now a free man.
On 14 February, 1994, Ukraine-born serial killer Andrei Chikatilo was executed after admitting to befriending, killing, and eating more than 50 people.
On 28 November, 1994 prisoners at the Colombia Correctional Institution in Milwaukee took the law into their hands and punished inmate Jeffrey Dahmer by beating him to death for his crimes.
The crimes ranged from luring young men to his apartment, where he would kill and dismember them after sedating them with alcohol or drugs. He would then eat or experiment with their remains.
The world watched in amazement when horror images on a baby monitor about a Czech family of cultists and cannibals on 10 May, 2007. Six members of the family were convicted for eating their younger children.
Some of the cannibal stories are implausible. In 2001 Germany Armin Meiwes posted an advertisement on an Internet site which read in part, “Looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed.”
Unbelievably, he received many responses and picked one willing participant whom he met and ate on Christmas Day. He was arrested when he released the video tape of his act.
Brazilians Jorge and Elizabeth Pires da Silveira were accused of starting a sect called Cartel which they told the authorities they wanted to use to purify the world and reduce population.
They killed a number of women, cooked their “meat”, and used it as the filling in a pastry dish known as empanada, which was then sold to unwitting neighbours.
Africa too has its share of cannibalism, especially in high places. Members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Foday Sankoh-led Sierra Leone rebels who fought the government in the 1990s, were accused by the United Nations of committing horrific atrocities which included amputation of limbs and cannibalism of enemies, including peacekeepers and United Nations personnel.
“When we asked them why they did that, they said other than using the act as intimidation, eating the enemy gave them strength,” Sibota Makori, a retired Kenyan soldier who served as a peacekeeper in Sierra Leone, said.
There are also allegations that Congolese and Libyan rebels ate the flesh of their enemies. The self-declared emperor of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, was alleged to have beaten to death school children
protesting against wearing expensive government uniform and eaten their flesh. Although Bokassa was tried on 24 October, 1986 for several cases of cannibalism, he was never convicted.
In Uganda, former president Idi Amin Dada was rumoured to have kept human flesh in his fridge while Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Liberation Army is being accused of engaging in ritual cannibalism.
International medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières supplied evidence of cannibal feasts in Liberia in the 1980s.
A secret society identified as the Leopard Society centred in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire in the mid-1900s was alleged to have used sharp claw-like weapons to slice the flesh of its victims.
The United Nations accused militia fighting with Charles Taylor, who has been jailed for 50 years after a trial at the Hague, of killing and eating the human flesh of their enemies.
One of Taylor’s most notorious lieutenants told CNN that they practised various human sacrifices which “included the killing of an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat.”
One of the interviews, which can be viewed on YouTube, includes footage of Taylor’s supporters preparing to eat a human heart.
During his trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Taylor was accused of ordering his soldiers to commit acts of cannibalism against enemies, including peacekeepers and United Nations staff.
A UN investigation points out that the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) committed atrocities near the town of Beni in the eastern DRC Congo’s Ituri province which included rape, torture, executions, and cannibalism.
“Other examples include hearts and other organs being cut out of victims and forced on their families to eat,” the BBC reported.
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