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General Butt Naked Liberia’s Cannibal Warlord

Africa didn’t earn its nickname of the heart of darkness without reason. The last few decades have seen gruesome civil wars erupt across the continent with mass murder, modern slavery and genocide being defining features. However, few were as dark as the Liberian Civil War. Known for cannibalism and brutal urban warfare, this was a war of the darkest kind.

From 1989 to 2003, a brutal civil war-ravaged Liberia for 13 years and killed almost a quarter of a million people. Women were raped and mutilated; warlords recruited child soldiers to fuel the conflict; tens of thousands of people were displaced and fled to other countries. Since the end of the war, the country has faced an uphill struggle to recover.

The origins of the war lay in a string of characters. Firstly, Samuel Doe, who had overthrown the elected government of Liberia during a coup in 1980. In 1985, Doe held elections, which were seen to be a fraud. In 1989, former government minister Charles Taylor arrived back in Liberia and began an uprising to crush the Doe government.

Taylor commanded forces known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia and fought a bloody path through the country before eventually capturing the capital of Monrovia. Samuel Doe was captured and brutally murdered on camera. A few years later, Charles Taylor was elected president of the country in 1997. A second civil war would erupt when various rebel groups sprang up around the country.

From these times of apocalyptic chaos, many warlords would rise to prominence. Some would become infamous for inhuman brutality, cannibalism and atrocities. One of them was General Butt Naked.

General Butt Naked was born Joshua Blahyi in 1971. Originally a tribal priest of the Sarpo tribe, he became a warlord during the Liberian Civil War and gained a dark reputation for human sacrifice and eating children. Blahyi claims to have killed around 20,000 people. At the age of 11, he became a tribal priest of the Sarpo and took part in a human sacrifice. Afterwards, he claimed that the Devil appeared to him and told him that he would become a great warrior, and the practise of human sacrifice and cannibalism would increase his power.

During the Liberian Civil War, he led a mercenary unit composed mostly of child soldiers loyal to the forces of Samuel Doe. Blahyi would often lead his soldiers bollock naked except for shoes and a gun. He believed that being naked would protect him from enemy bullets. Subsequently, his unit became known as the Butt Naked Brigade.

General Butt Naked also claims to have regularly spoken to the devil during the war and believed that human sacrifice, usually a small child, before battle was vital to the protection and satisfying the devil. Often, Butt Naked would lurk under bodies of water where children were playing and pull them under like a shark before slaughtering them, often cutting out their hearts to eat. The heads of his victims were often given to his troops to use as footballs.

Since the war, General Butt Naked has converted to Christianity and become a preacher travelling through Liberia preaching peace and love, denouncing his old way of life. He often encounters the relatives of his victims, but insists it was satanic powers responsible for his past behaviour and that he cannot be held accountable.

Jason Green
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