Cannibalism is as old as mankind. In Uganda, it has long been widely acknowledged that there are individuals who eat fellow human beings. it is a mysterious, feared and a less spoken about practice.
Nile Post’s Farish Magembe took some time off to explore this issue in depth.
Muzamilu Lugemwa is a resident of Buyamba town council in Rakai district.
This village was in the limelight twenty years ago. His father Baker Lugemwa was murdered and allegedly roasted
The memories are still fresh to him.
“Every time I get to this place, I remember those people,” Lugemwa said.
His father’s story is familiar to most people in the neighbour.
Being a child by then he recollects some of the gruesome scenes he encountered
“My father’s remains were found near some homes hidden in a shrub and his body had been roasted and some parts were eaten and cut off,” he said.
The fear is spread all over the district and it forces people indoors at sunset.
A few miles away is Kayonza village.
It’s much feared with suspicions of having man eaters and cannibals.
Geoffrey has grown up here. And as a child he knows what it means to speak about a cannibal
He has accepted to speak to us.
The tone of his expression tells it all.
“That house and the other, I won’t be scared it’s the other one. They do it and the other in the corner,” Geoffrey said.
He fears for his life. He could be on someone’s menu tonight.
Cannibalism is the act of consuming another individual of the same species as food.
Human cannibalism is well documented, both in ancient and in recent times.
Rakai Magistrate’s court handles many cases of cannibalism.
“Man eating it scares everybody, it’s something that is not normal. It scares people who come to work here, scares investment, Rakai was given a district status in 1971, when you look at this town it’s a ghost of its own,” said Patrick Kityo, the magistrate.
In a space of one year, Kityo says he has handled close to twenty cannibalism related cases.
It’s a sector that he is fronting in his line of work.
There’s no specific law against cannibalism.
However different laws have been enacted that indirectly make it impossible to consume body matter.
And this can lead to criminal or civil actions basing on laws governing.
“People fear to make statements, if people don’t come and make police statements, prosecution will find it very difficult to prove a case beyond any reasonable doubt and with capital cases proving a case is water tight so it makes it a challenge,” Kityo said.
The history of cannibalism in Rakai dates back to the ancient times.
This is believed to have come as a result of the intermarriages with neighbouring Tanzanian communities.
Cannibalism over the years has been attached to the Kooki kingdom in south western Uganda. But cultural leadership here is taking all necessary efforts to avert this.
Traditional African healing is something has been in existence for centuries and they are believed to play a vital role in sphere of people’s lives. (Witchcraft)
It’s so much detested in another village.
Here it’s the funeral rituals that they are holding onto as they send off a beloved one
“We are going to bury here like a traditional healer and so those who practice night running , dare. People are buried and you start practicing witchcraft but if you are caught don’t complain to us, we are going to bury her with all the powers.”
The belief here is how the spirits can combat the powers of the man eaters and this preacher is emphatic.
“We don’t expect them to take his remains because of our powers, we are so powerful.”
Night running is a culture that most people in African have grown up with but as time goes by it seems diminishing and probably there’s more need for a modern rehabilitation to those still trapped in the culture.