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12 - Resurrecting Cannibals

from Part Three - THE CANNIBAL IN COLONIAL MISSIONARY ENCOUNTERS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

Heike Behrend
Affiliation:
University of Cologne
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Summary

One of the most perplexing aspects of the cannibal in Tooro is his capacity to resurrect his victims. Cannibals are said to bring the dead back to life in order to eat and kill them a second time. A cannibal bewitches his victim and the person dies. After the funeral the cannibal either plays a bamboo flute or blows a whistle, a strong wind blows and the corpse is – like Jesus – resurrected from the grave. The resurrected person moves straight to where the cannibals are waiting to eat him or her during their sinister banquet. Not the Christian God, but a cannibal makes the dead rise; the resurrected does not enter heaven but ends up in the stomach of the cannibal.

There exists also a trick against resurrection. If the relatives put a needle or a little pebble in the hand of the dead, then, when the cannibal blows the flute or the whistle, the corpse will shout that he/she cannot come because he/she is sewing (needle) or carrying a heavy load (pebble). By pretending to be busy, to be working, the dead person is spared resurrection and can rest in peace.

This chapter demonstrates that since the coming of Christian catechists and missionaries at the end of the 19th century, the Christian promise of bodily resurrection strongly caught the local imaginary and led to a variety of reworkings as part of a power struggle between Christians and ‘pagan’ ritual experts.

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Chapter
Information
Resurrecting Cannibals
The Catholic Church, Witch-Hunts and the Production of Pagans in Western Uganda
, pp. 165 - 176
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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