Friday, August 21, 2009

Human Sacrifice in Uganda

Here's one of those stories that seems too ridiculously lurid to be true, but apparently police investigators have turned up a more evidence than one might expect for an outright hoax or another incident of hysteria-fueled persecutions. Apparently authorities in Uganda have identified a cult originating in West Africa that is practicing human sacrifice.

Police are investigating a religious cult of predominantly wealthy people linked to human sacrifice in the country.

The Observer has learnt that Police earlier this year, acting on a tip-off, sanctioned an investigation into claims that some wealthy people in the country are responsible for the spiralling acts of child human sacrifice in the country.

The Acting Commissioner of the Police Investigations Department, Moses Binoga, told The Observer in an interview last Thursday at CID headquarters in Kibuli that the Police are taking these allegations seriously.

Since the start of the year, his department has gathered information on this cult whose activities are mainly concentrated in Kampala. He says the cult originated from West Africa.

These latest charges come right on the heels of a series of trials related to a criminal gang operating between neighboring Kenya and Burundi. Members of the gang were convicted of killing albinos for their body parts and selling them unscrupulous folk magicians who used them in traditional African witchcraft rituals.

The cult appears to have connections to Nigeria, where a number of groups claiming to practice "black magic" have recently been involved in a variety of crimes, prompting a crackdown by law enforcement.

Authorities in West Africa have in the recent past fought running battles with cult members. On August 6, cult members shot and killed a policeman in Nigeria who was considered a threat to the cult’s activities in Adigbe area.

In the same country, 13 students were killed in clashes between cults calling themselves the Black Axe and the Black Eye, all said to be practising black magic. Some of their activities include killing, rape, extortion and theft.

Nigeria Police also clashed with the Boko Haram cult, killing 700 people and arresting hundreds of members of the group.

It sounds like the mass arrests in Nigeria have forced cult members to relocate to the city of Kampala in Uganda, perhaps hoping to go unnoticed there. However, one of the reasons human sacrifice is comparatively rare is that even in a country with lax law enforcement it's hard to keep it secret for very long. When people go missing their relatives usually start asking questions, and one big arrest can break the whole scheme wide open.

In December 2008, the arrest of businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi in connection with the kidnap and ritual killing of 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye, brought to light many other cases totalling 318 in 2008 – up from 230 in 2006.

Kajubi is accused of buying the head of the boy for witchcraft to boost his wealth. Soon after Kajubi’s arrest, another man, Abbas Mugerwa, was arrested in Masajja after he beheaded his twins.

Mugerwa told The Observer that a rich man had asked him for his twins in exchange for Shs 50million, a deal Mugerwa agreed to; prompting him to behead the three-year olds.

In Nakibizi, Mukono District, one Emmanuel Kironde, a toddler, was found dead with his neck and wrists missing. The toddler had gone missing from his grand mother’s home, Namwandu Wamala, in Njeru Town Council.

Police arrested Moses Kimbowa, a witchdoctor and his accomplices Muzamiru Mukalazi and Anthony Ssendikadiwa. Kimbowa confessed to killing four people.

In addition to the shocking nature of the crimes themselves, what makes the whole situation even worse (if that's possible) is that this sort of magick doesn't necessarily even work particularly well for many sorts of spells. It is possible to raise magical energy by killing living things and killing a human being releases more energy than killing an animal, but at least according to the energetic models found in both the Western and Asian esoteric traditions substantially more usable power can be summoned by a magician who knows how to work with the energy of his or her subtle body. According to Qigong, all living animals have a certain amount of spiritual energy running along what is called the central channel. This is a flow of energy that unites Heaven and Earth Qi, which in the Western ceremonial system corresponds to Active and Passive Spirit. It's like the poles on a battery, where electrons flow between the cathode and anode. When an animal is killed in the context of a magical ritual the energy that is in the central channel at the moment of death is liberated and can be directed into a magical spell.

A number of traditions make use of animal sacrifices under specific delineated circumstances, as the spiritual energy liberated at the moment of death behaves kind of like a static charge. It can produce a momentary powerful surge of energy, but is of limited use for sustained magical work unless you have a continuous supply of living creatures to sacrifice. On the other hand, a magician who knows how to draw energy from his or her own central channel has a practically unlimited source of energy available, much like the current traveling across the electrical grid, and should rarely need to "boost" this current by sacrificing anything, let alone a child. When sacrificial methods are used in votive traditions there are other considerations involved such as the power of the specific spirit or deity to whom the sacrifice is offered, but in my experience there are plenty of powerful spirits that can be called upon to get a job done without requiring any sort of blood sacrifice.

Part of me wonders if this cult has anything to do with someone who read the chapter on "The Bloody Sacrifice" in Aleister Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice and misunderstood it, thinking it to be a literal description of a magical practice. However, similar sacrificial methods have been part of African magick for a very long time so I'm sure that stories of the original traditional practices inspired Crowley's innuendos rather than the other way around. Also, the charges are horrifying enough that they may contain some moral panic elements and not be entirely true, like what went on here in the United States with the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare of the late 1980's and early 1990's. As the investigation is pending only time will tell, and here's hoping that justice will be served.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like these sacrifices also contain elements of organized crime, which is unfortunately rampant in some parts of Africa. The incorporation of "black magic" into organized crime is nothing new, as it makes the entire enterprise far more intimidating and therefore capable of greater levels of extortion, violence, and profit.