It was a big week for readers sending me hot tips on the kind of little stories that make war interesting. My favorite was this tidbit from the Congo: "Army, rebel and tribal fighters, some believing the pygmies are less than human or that eating their flesh would give them magic power, have been pursuing the pygmies in forests, killing them and eating their flesh, activists said."
You can always count on the Congo to come through when the rest of the world is getting all dull and practical. You have to wonder what kind of arguments they have around the BBQ, munchin' away on a nice Pygmy drumstick. Do the ones chompin' the little fella to get magic powers get flak from the ones who just like the taste? "Hey, magic man, let's see you fly now that you've had your pygmy meat!"
The story didn't say who the "activists" were, but I like the idea of a bunch of Europeans fanning out in the jungle with little "Don't Eat A Pygmy" kits -- you know, armbands with a little pygmy in a red circle, trying to be sensitive to the local culture, then losing it when they walk into a village and see the local bigwigs just finishing a teeny arm or leg: "You savages! Oh no, did I say that?" I guess your typical "activist" would have to go off into the jungle and shoot himself if he got caught saying something politically incorrect like that. But hey, that wouldn't end his problems, not if the locals really had a taste for Long Pig. You might be cremated the long, slow way, in a crockpot with some yams.
Thing is, picking on pygmies is pure discrimination -- Heightism. Maybe you could get Dustin Hoffman to do a charity visit. All those Hollywood liberals like to talk about "all the little people" -- see how they like it when Dustin's suddenly one of the appetizers.
It was a good couple of weeks for Africa. If there's one country that can give Congo a run for its money in the crazy sweepstakes, it's Liberia. A reader sent me an update on one of my favorite military figures, General Butt Naked of Liberia.
Liberia's right next door to Sierra Leone, and has the same sort of history. Both were started up as places to settle freed slaves. Sierra Leone was a British project and Liberia was American, but otherwise it's the same story: freed slaves set up little towns on the coast, make the inland tribes into slaves, then the whole thing dissolves into massacres, with "armies" of M-16-totin' 13-year-old boys in dresses, killing and fucking, in that order, anybody they can catch.
General Butt Naked was like the Patton of these guys, the Robert E. Lee of Liberia. Instead of wearing wigs and high heels like most Liberian "army" kids, he started a wild new fashion: he just didn't wear anything at all. Here's the item, just the way the reader sent it:
"Liberia: Joshua Blahyi - formerly known as General Butt Naked and leader of the Butt Naked Battalion in Liberia's recent civil war - says that he now regrets the drunken murderous rampages he led his troops on, and says that he was a 'slave to Satan.' Speaking to the press from his new Soul-Winning Evangelical Ministry in Monrovia, General Butt Naked told reporters that at the age of 11 he had a telephone call from the Devil who demanded nudity on the battlefield, acts of indecency and regular human sacrifices to ensure his protection. 'So, before leading my troops into battle, we would get drunk and drugged up, sacrifice a local teenager, drink their blood, then strip down to our shoes and go into battle wearing colourful wigs and carrying dainty purses we'd looted from civilians. We'd slaughter anyone we saw, chop their heads off and use them as soccer balls. We were nude, fearless, drunk and homicidal. We killed hundreds of people -- so many I lost count. But in June last year God telephoned me and told me that I was not the hero I considered myself to be, so I stopped and became a preacher.'"