Human cannibalism is believed to have originated before the upper Paleolithic Period, and many researchers theorize that Neanderthals and other hominids resorted to eating human flesh during times of extreme food shortages. There is also evidence from approximately 15,000 years ago suggesting human skulls were once utilized as drinking vessels. Numerous recorded accounts of cannibalism throughout history have indicated this practice has been used for everything from disposing of the dead to attempting to absorb the powers of deceased enemies.
However, human cannibalism is now illegal in most parts of the world, and it’s very rare to hear of cannibalistic incidents outside the occasional serial killer or uncivilized tribe. With this in mind, it was especially shocking when several witnesses told local authorities and the media that a Congo crowd decided to kill and eat a man on October 31, 2014, in an apparent attempt at enacting revenge.
Tension is high in the town of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of multiple attacks carried out by Ugandan rebels. On October 30, there were several overnight raids in the Beni area, and they are believed to have been the handiwork of an Islamist group known as ADF-NAUL. This group is notorious for utilizing machetes and hatchets to indiscriminately massacre people, and it’s believed more than 100 people have been killed in this manner during the last month.
According to witnesses, the man who ended up on the menu was very suspicious because he had a machete and was unable to speak the local language. Whether or not this man was actually a member of ADF-NAUL, he happened to get caught in a rally with approximately 100 demonstrators who were calling on the local government to provide them with an enhanced level of protection from Ugandan rebels.
The man was singled out by the crowd and stoned to death; after which they ate his flesh and burned his body. Although no one has been able to get an official statement from anyone who participated in this cannibalistic ritual, it appears anger over the recent Ugandan rebel attacks was the catalyst leading to a twisted version of revenge.
There are many aspects of this story left unexplained by the media. For example, what possible purpose would cannibalism serve when revenge had already been enacted by the murder itself? Also, the timing of the incident is peculiar. After all, there are still many people worldwide who believe certain days of the year have special powers and it seems especially odd this happened on Halloween. Perhaps the group was trying to absorb the powers of their enemy and the date held a particular meaning.
While there may be seemingly rational reasons for murderous behavior in areas terrorized by ADF-NAUL, it’s still hard to imagine a group of people spontaneously deciding to eat another person. Naturally one wonders if this particular group was actually seeking revenge at all. Instead, maybe they had been playing off the town’s fear as a cover for their cannibalistic urges. It’s even possible the man who was killed was wrongfully accused of being a Ugandan rebel.
The only way we are likely to discover the truth about what happened in the Congo is if there are further incidents. However, what we do know is cannibalism is not normally the method of choice within that region for disposing of dead bodies or getting revenge so this murder/barbeque is unique (as far as we know).
It stands to reason there’s a lot more behind this story than the media is willing to disclose. It would not be surprising at all to learn this is not an isolated incident of cannibalism, nor would it be a surprise to find out that revenge had nothing to do with it.