By OYUNGA PALA
In the late 1970s, our then socialism-leaning neighbours, Tanzania, described Kenya as a man-eat-man society.
No one took the reference literally until Kenya headlined global news with the most bizarre incident since Baraza allegedly milked an elephant in the wild.
Alexander Kinyua, a 21-year-old Morgan State University student, reportedly admitted to killing his roommate, Ghanaian Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and eating his heart and portions of his brain.
Only a week before Alex Kinyua’s case, Rudy Eugene, another American, was shot dead by Miami-Dade police after he reportedly refused to stop eating another man’s face. If it weren’t so weird, it would be funny.
Cannibalism is a universal taboo because it is simply murder dressed in an apron. A look through history reveals that men have eaten men for all sorts of reasons.
I grew up with cartoon books that stereotyped Africans as cannibals. Nonetheless, early European invaders used the ‘cannibal’ tag liberally as a perfect guise to subjugate (read enlighten) primitive cultures and steal their land.
Cannibalism as a last resort to stave off starvation is somewhat explicable. The famous movie Alive tells the story of the survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, who had to eat their dead colleagues to stay alive.
Ritualistic murders for occult purposes that visited people suffering albinism in Tanzania. Their body parts were in high demand at one point. That was shocking but in sync with the logic of demonic witchcraft practices.
Even when heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson bit into Evander Holyfield’s ear, most observers concluded that it was because his wife was driving him crazy. So it is the zombie-like apocalypse stories of our modern times that got me cracking my brain for explanation.
It is bad enough that as a Kenyan, I have to be laden with yet another stereotype. Now whenever I meet cocky Americans and say, “I like sushi” it will probably send them racing for the first plane out of the country.
Those interviewed for a background research on Kinyua’s past described him as a gentle character. But serial killers have displayed similar multiple personality traits. It is, therefore, not hard to imagine that they were fooled by appearances.
The Miami Herald reported that Kinyua was serving bail after smashing a random student in the face with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and chains. What manner of rage would drive a man to these extremes? Why didn’t he just grab a gun as disgruntled elements have done in the past to make a point?
Another US news source in reference to that infamous face-eating incident alluded Rudy Eugene’s paranormal behaviour to a party drug that induced a craving for human flesh. Given Kenya’s porous borders as far drug trafficking goes, I have reason to be scared silly!