Cannibalism has existed in the world since time immemorial but bizarre incidences of humans eating their own species are fortunately rare. The practice revolts us but are we not also morbidly fascinated by chilling tales of man-eating man? A recent case of cannibalism in Kenya suggests perhaps that we are.
According to anthropologists, there are various forms of cannibalism which include ritual cannibalism, survival cannibalism, eating the dead from one’s own community (‘endocannibalism’), or one’s enemies (‘exocannibalism’), even ‘sexual cannibalism’.
THE SURVIVORS OF FLIGHT 571
People of sound mind have been caught in life-threatening situations where they have been forced to eat the dead in order to survive. One such incident occurred in 1972 where Survivors of Uruguayan Air force Flight 571 that crashed into the Andes confessed that they were forced to eat the dead in order to survive before they were rescued 72 days later.
Ritual cannibalism is common with devil worshippers who kill and eat various body parts of fellow human beings for ritual purposes, to satisfy the gods or bring rain. Such cannibalistic incidents were common in Kenya in the 1990’s and were accompanied by rampant kidnappings. Children would be kidnapped only for their bodies to be discovered dumped on various parts of the country, with different body parts like, the heart, tongue and genitalia missing.
KENYAN ALEXANDER KINYUA
In the United States just over a month ago a 21-year-old Kenyan student was put in police custody for allegedly murdering his roommate and eating his heart and parts of his brain. Alexander Kinyua confessed to the killing of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, a Ghanaian citizen. Kinyua beheaded the unfortunate Agyei-Kodie, cut his hands and stored them in his family’s townhouse.
MADE INTO MEATBALLS
It’s a bizarre story that sent jitters down the spines of people worldwide. Other recent incidences of cannibalism include the case of the ‘gay porn star’ Luka Magnotta who allegedly killed his lover and ate most of him before mailing his feet and hands to the offices of the main political parties in Canada.
In 2011 a Russian chef was arrested for killing gay men lured to his apartment, chopping them up with a butcher’s knife and then turning them into meatballs and sausages.
Couldn’t happen in Kenya? Don’t you believe it!
This week the Daily Nation has carried the story of a Mr Amos Gichue Kimeria (‘Villagers’ chilling tale of cannibalism’) who is facing murder charges in a Nakuru court for hacking to death his neighbor, Mr Peter Chepongos, and making soup using the victim’s bowels and parts of his leg. There was allegedly evidence that the accused roasted parts of his victim’s body as well and that a blood stained panga and a sufuria containing the boiled bowels, have been kept as exhibit by the police.
The two recent incidents of cannibalism allegedly perpetrated by Kenyans have left most of us wincing and grimacing in disgust as they clearly suggest that such scenes do not just occur in horror movies. But the Kenya Forum asks; do we not at one and the same time also have a macabre fascination with such stories?
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
From the Spanish seafarers’ tales of the ‘canibales’ in the West Indies in the 16th and 17thcenturies, to ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and Anthony Hopkins playing the part of Dr Hannibal Lecter, to Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and Sweeney Todd ‘the demon barber’, and from daily newspapers to now, admittedly, the Kenya Forum, we shudder at reading such stories… and then read on.