Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2013
This chapter examines some of the complexities of the figure of the cannibal in Tooro which oscillate between an internal as well as external Other. I will explore a local cannibal geography that not only locates cannibals beyond the margins of Tooro in the Congo but also inside Tooro, in a place named Kijura. In addition, I will trace the complicated relationship between witchcraft and cannibalism from a restricted historical perspective (1970s to the present) by analysing, in particular, two texts by local ethnographers of Tooro. The chapter concludes by showing that in the local perspective, cannibals, far from being a ‘traditional’ characteristic of Tooro, have become globalized and are found everywhere today.
As in Europe and other parts of the world, in Western Uganda discourses of alterity have emerged that locate the cannibal at the margins, or beyond, one's own inhabited world. Ideally, the field of social relations is conceived as a space in which those more socially distant are seen in terms of increasing inversion: walking on their heads, committing incest and eating human flesh.
Yet, cannibals, witches and incestuous beings were not only located outside but existed also in the centre of society. Kings in precolonial Tooro and Bunyoro committed incest and were necrophagous eaters. Like witches and twins, they were inhabited by a force named mahano that was created by transgression. Kings and witches were thus estranged figures in the centre of the kingdom or, as Luc de Heusch has suggested, power figures both beyond and inside society (Heusch 1972).