As I type this out, I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since my last post. I’ve really dropped the ball here, but I can’t say I’m too disappointed. I just finished writing a book I’ve been working for years!
I wrote the first draft of this book when I was in college and hated it. About one year later I started over, using most of the same ideas and characters. This second draft took me years to write, thanks to intense writer’s block, self-doubt, and life. When I finished this second draft, I knew it was an improvement from the first, but it still felt like the skeletons of a larger story. To help me figure it out, I did something I never thought I would do (thanks, self-doubt): I hired an editor! While I ended having to rewrite the whole story for a third time, I knew I was much better off than my last draft. Months later here I am, typing away moments after proofreading the final draft of my book.
I guess I’m justifying my silence on Recount & Reveal these last few months. I made a similar posted back in January to explain what was going on. In a way, I’m just expounding on my current situation as a writer.
Nevertheless, I have a short story to share with you all today. My novel deals with cannibalism to some degree, so I thought in light of that I would share a cannibalism story. Enjoy!
While cannibalism is usually only resorted to in survival situations, history contains societies and stories of people driven to eat the flesh of others for spiritual reasons.
Sierra Leone in the early twentieth century was a time of political groups fighting for power, trading, and riots. The country wouldn’t gain independence until 1961, and before that time many different groups of people were fighting for equal rights and power. One could argue the area was undergoing dramatic stress and constant change.
In the midst of this all, a group of men were wreaking havoc on travelers. A few people were making their way through the Calabar area, presumably exploring or conducting business. Out of nowhere these people were attacked by what seemed like leopards. Anyone would think that’s what was attacking them as its sharp claws and teeth knocked them down or ripped through their flesh. Even in the travelers’ final moments of life, they probably looked into the face of the animal and thought they had become its dinner for the night.
But at least for one of the travelers, he must have figured it out before the end what was really attacking him. Sure, he was being punctured by thick claws. Sure, the thing that was on top of him was heavy, but when he looked into its eyes, he didn’t see an animal-like predator staring down at him. He looked into a man’s eyes. Either way, he was still tonight’s dinner.
After the leopard-dressed men were finished ripping the travelers apart, they dispersed the parts among one another to eat. This society known as the Leopard Society, or Ekpe, believed eating human flesh may provide not only them with strength, but also their tribe. Some claimed to have been possessed by an animal spirit––like a leopard––causing them to prey on humans. Members of this society also sold membership to others to spread their cannibalistic influence throughout the area.
While the Liberian government forbade the existence of the Leopard Society, a few carried on in secret. Today you can witness the tribe historically at the American Museum of Natural History. The society has even been referenced in a Tarzan novel and a few other literary works.
You can call them savages and crazy. You can also consider how the slave trade in the area might drive a group of people to do something drastic in an effort to stop the craziness they saw themselves.