Among the Cannibals: Adventures on the Trail of Man’s Darkest Ritual
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It's the stuff of nightmares, the dark inspiration for literature and film. But astonishingly, cannibalism does exist, and in Among the Cannibals travel writer Paul Raffaele journeys to the far corners of the globe to discover participants in this mysterious and disturbing practice. From an obscure New Guinea river village, where Raffaele went in search of one of the last practicing cannibal cultures on Earth; to India, where the Aghori sect still ritualistically eat their dead; to North America, where evidence exists that the Aztecs ate sacrificed victims; to Tonga, where the descendants of fierce warriors still remember how their predecessors preyed upon their foes; and to Uganda, where the unfortunate victims of the Lord's Resistance Army struggle to reenter a society from which they have been violently torn, Raffaele brings this baffling cultural ritual to light in a combination of Indiana Jones-type adventure and gonzo journalism.
Illustrated with photographs Raffaele took during his travels, Among the Cannibals is a gripping look at some of the more unsavory aspects of human civilization, guaranteed to satisfy every reader's morbid curiosity.
full size when it will be eaten, or more likely used as part of a bride price. “The Korowai rarely eat their pigs, using them as barter, as proof of their wealth, as compensation in a dispute or as a bride price,” Kornelius tells me as I pat the piglet, prompting a lovely smile from its guardian. “A highly desirable girl can cost the bridegroom’s family at least ten pigs and a string of dogs’ teeth up to twenty yards long.” The girls have circles of scar tissue the size of large coins running
ancient Sanskrit hymns as they offer the sacred river fresh flowers, incense and pots of milk. Even an hour after the Sun set below the rim of the Ganges, the nighttime heat is still enough to send me weak-kneed along the street overlooking the river. At a bookstore there, the city’s historian emeritus, Rana P.B. Singh of Banaras Hindu University, tells me that Hindu priests have been performing the aarti at this very spot for thousands of years. “To Hindus Benares is the center of the Earth,
shielding you from the Aghori’s evil designs on you.” I visit Baba again the next day. He is sitting outside his hut, watching a body burn down by the river. Smoke spirals into a blue sky, and stoic relatives huddle to the side. Baba looks as though he has been praying for most of the night, or perhaps he had got hold of another bottle of whiskey. His eyes are bloodshot and his face has the pallor of exhaustion. “I’m going to give you one of our holiest mantras,” he says. “Chant it every day
driver’s neck as the vehicle crawls along Vuna Road. No Tongans line the streets to cheer him; no one even stops to look at the monarch, wave, or pay him respect as he drives past. After morning service ends, Nuku’alofa is like a city of the dead. No person walks on the streets. No child cries out, even behind the closed doors. The port has been shut down since midnight, and the airport is silent, with no planes allowed to leave or arrive. Bathing at the many beaches is forbidden no matter how
continent. Herodotus, the Greek historian, quoted eyewitnesses of African cannibalism more than two thousand years ago. Much closer to our own time, explorers in Africa such as the gorilla-hunting French-American Paul Du Chaillu shocked their readers with descriptions of villagers commonly eating human flesh. In 1861 Du Chaillu wrote that he found human flesh to be the daily fare in a tribe named the Fan in Gabon, then known as French Equatorial Africa. The warlike Fan men certainly looked the