2021: THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBAL

What a year it was – if a virus wasn’t invading your body, your neighbour might well be.

Thank you!

First of all, a big thanks for reading and sometimes commenting on my blog. Eighteen months ago, I was very excited at seeing over 1,000 views in a month. In December 2021, we had over 6,000 views.

The year by year growth of readership (59,002 in 2021) has been going, pardon the term, viral. So, thank you!!

Cannibals and rumours of cannibals in 2021

I decided to postpone this blog post until January 2022 because, at the end of 2021, new cannibalism cases were still being reported. In the previous year’s summary, I had missed THE GRANNY RIPPER, because she died of COVID on December 29 2020 while awaiting trial. So we’re sneaking her in to the section at the end – cannibals sentenced in 2021, although her judge and executioner was a tiny virus.

There were so many cannibal stories in 2021 that I am listing them alphabetically by country. I should point out for my American readers that the good ol’ USA won gold in the number and strangeness of cannibal acts last year, with Russia, Mexico and Nigeria tied for silver.

Australia

A Tasmanian man pleaded guilty to assault and attempted abduction of a five-year-old girl, telling the court that he just wanted a cuddle (albeit from a screaming child, whom he had just attempted to strangle) and later telling prison officers that he had wanted to eat her, and that he had been wanting to eat people since he was a child.

Bolivia

A woman chowed down on a burger in Santa Cruz de la Sierra only to find that she was chewing on a severed and decomposing human finger. The unfortunate incident (you’d have to call her an innocent cannibal) was the source of some semi-amusing puns from the world’s press, plus a hilarious unintentional pun from the burger company who told her “the issue is out of our hands”.

France

A man in Tarascon, a town between Avignon and Arles, was shot by police after the decapitated and partly consumed corpse of young boy was found in his apartment.

Ghana

Richard Appiah of Abesim near Sunyani in the Bono Region, allegedly lured three boys to his house, killed them and kept their mutilated bodies in his fridge. He is said to have cooked for them, before cooking them.

Indonesia

A family in Gowa allegedly gouged out their six-year-old daughter’s eye as part of a black magic cannibal ritual that was supposed to bring them wealth, before her mother ate her eyelid. Police also arrested a shaman, who allegedly convinced the family to sacrifice children.

Malawi

Patrick Gome from Ntcheu was allegedly found biting a nine-month old baby on her cheek and thigh. A police spokesperson said Gome acted “like a wild animal”.

Mexico

David Sanabria and his young daughter, trying to cross Mexico from Honduras in the hope of entering the United States, was kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and held for ransom. Those refugees who did not pay, he later told Noticias Telemundo Investiga, were murdered and cooked and the surviving migrants were made to eat the meat.

Andres Filomeno Mendoza Celis, 72, was arrested in Calle Margaritas, in the municipality of Atizapan de Zaragoza. Detectives arrived at Mendoza’s home to interview him about the suspicious disappearance of a woman, Reyna González, a mother of two, only to find her mutilated remains on a table. Mendoza reportedly admitted to slaughtering and eating parts of around thirty women over the last twenty years.

Nigeria

The cannibal of Ebonyi was the name given to a commercial driver in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, who reportedly bit off and swallowed the finger of a member of the taskforce raised by the state’s Ministry of Capital City Development to enforce compliance with urban planning regulations.

A video has surfaced online purporting to show the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the security wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), celebrating the abduction, beheading and cannibalisation of two police officers. The Director of State Security said “We saw human flesh being roasted, it was an eye-sore.” An IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, denied claims that their members eat human flesh and engage in barbaric acts, saying that the claim by the DSS was meant to demonise IPOB and ESN operatives and tag them as criminals.

Russia

Vladimir Yadne killed three people in Siberia and ate their flesh, washed down with vodka.

On the other side of Russia, Yegor Komarov was seen running from his car, which he had crashed into a road safety barrier. The problem was not the accident, but the headless body which fell from the car boot. Komarov admitted to being a cannibal and stated that he ‘likes killing people’. He confessed to stabbing and killing another man in a park in St Petersburg last year for the sole purpose of tasting human flesh, and said he had sliced off the tongue and fried it in butter.

South Africa

A community leader told the Financial Times newspaper that rioting and looting have caused food shortages which have led people to consider cannibalism.

Spain

National Police officers in Sevilla were deployed on Saturday, September 18, to deal with what they have described as one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of the force, a case involving African witchcraft and cannibalism. Allegedly, a fight had broken out between two women after one threw a bottle of water containing salt at the other, and accused her of witchcraft. Believing that her roommate was possessed, she struck her on the head with a stone, and then bit off and ate two of the woman’s fingers. After this, the aggressor, in an attempt to rid the other woman of the supposed demon, inserted the stone into her anus in an attempt to extract her guts.

USA

The biggest cannibalism story in the USA in 2021 was about a man who almost certainly has not eaten anyone. He did, however, boast about it in text messages to some very pissed off girlfriends, who reported it widely. Yep, the actor (maybe former actor) Armie Hammer. Arguably now more famous for his cannibalism posts than for his movies.

On February 9 2021, Chickasha (Oklahoma) police responded to a 911 call. They found Leon Pye dead and his four-year-old granddaughter Kaeos critically injured. She died in the back of the ambulance. Delsie Pye, Leon’s wife, was alive, but had knife wounds to both eyes. Lawrence Anderson confessed to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that before slaughtering his family, he had broken into the home of a neighbour and butchered the woman who lived there, cut out her heart, and cooked it with potatoes to feed to his family, to release the demons. Apparently unsuccessfully.

Landon Copeland, an Army veteran from Utah who had been accused of assaulting police during the Capitol insurrection, was refused bail after he threatened to “eat the flesh” of a probation officer. He is said to have shouted “I will eat your flesh for nutrients. I don’t think you don’t know what I am!”

James Phelps, 58, and Timothy Norton, 56, were arrested and charged with kidnapping a young woman named Cassidy Rainwater in September. The County Sheriff said that Rainwater was disembowelled and dismembered after she was strangled. Some of her remains were found in a freezer. Conspiracies are floating around that both Norton and Phelps were involved in cannibalistic activities.

Cassidy Rainwater kidnappers arrested

Just squeaking into 2021 before the ball falls in Times Square, Idaho man James David Russell, 39, of Oldtown in Bonner County had cannibalism charges added to his accusations of first-degree murder. Police found pieces of the neighbour, some of which appeared to have been cooked in a microwave oven. According to the supplemental probable cause affidavit, Russell believed that he could “heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh” in order to “cure his brain.”

Sentenced

Some cannibals sit in jail for a while before they are finally sentenced. Here are a few who ate people in earlier years, but were sentenced in 2021.

  • On Friday, 18 June, a Swiss court sentenced 46-year-old Alieu Kosiah, a West African rebel leader, to 20 years in prison for rape, murder and cannibalism.
  • Bulawayo man, Rodney Tongai Jindu, has just lodged an appeal to the Zimbabwean Supreme Court against a High Court ruling which sentenced him to death for murdering two of his friends. Jindu had told the court, in gruesome detail, how he had eaten the men’s livers raw, and cooked and eaten their brains.
  • Alberto Sánchez Gómez, a Madrid waiter, was jailed for 15 years in June. He had told police he butchered his own mother before sharing her body parts with his dog. The 66-year-old pensioner had been chopped into at least 1,000 pieces and her vital organs were missing.
  • Sunil Rama Kuchkoravi (35) of Kolhapur India was found guilty of murder for killing his mother after she refused to give him money to buy liquor. He later chopped up parts of her body and ate them, after frying them in a pan.
  • A Sydney (Australia) woman who cut her 57-year-old mother’s head off with kitchen knives in July 2019 was found guilty of manslaughter in the NSW Supreme Court in March, and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment, after pleading not guilty to murder due to mental impairment. The court was told that Jessica Camilleri – who had a history of refusing to take psychiatric medications – had only stopped the attack when her mother’s head fell off and her eyeballs came out of their sockets. The judge said Camilleri had engaged in “acts of decapitation and cannibalism”.
  • Eduard Seleznev, known as the “Arkhangelsk Cannibal”, who killed and ate the flesh of three men, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Russian Supreme Court. Seleznev admitted the murders, and added that he had then sliced their bodies up, kept the meat in plastic bags, and disposed of the bodies in the Volokhnitsa river. He subsequently boiled and ate the flesh.
  • At the end of the year, we heard that Mark Latunski, who allegedly killed his Grindr date, hung him upside down and ate his testicles on Christmas Eve 2019 (thus missing out on my 2020 update), will go to trial early 2022. Very inconsiderate.
  • Sofia Zhukova, known as the ‘Granny Ripper’, who supposedly gave children sweets made from the flesh of her victims, died in Russia of COVID-19 on December 29 2020, at the age of 81, before the conclusion of her murder trial. You may have noticed that most of the 5,351,812 people who died of COVID up to December 20 (plus millions more whose deaths were not reported to WHO) did not have articles written about them. Sofia had heaps of media coverage though, because, you know, cannibalism.

2022

Well, I hope you can see why I nominated 2021 as THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBAL. But what does 2022 have in store for us? Well, if you follow the prophecies of Nostradamus, which a surprising number of people do, 2022 offers, yep, even more cannibalism, this time because of inflation and the price of food.

 “So high the price of wheat
that man is stirred
his fellow man to eat in his despair.”

Looking further ahead, a professor of astrobiology at Edinburgh University has warned that humans who attempt to colonise other worlds such as Jupiter’s moon Callisto and Saturn’s moon Titan could well find themselves running out of food and resorting to cannibalism.  It happens – think of the “Starving Time” in the Virginia colony of Jamestown in 1609-10, or Sir John Franklin’s 1845 exploration of the Arctic that resulted in the crew cannibalising each other.

https://www.news24.com/witness/news/the-covid-jab-wont-turn-you-into-a-cannibal-kzn-health-mec-20211026

As I stand before you, I’ve never had the urge to eat anyone, and it will never happen. So, what people are saying about the vaccine making people want to eat others… of being part of 5G technology, or linked to the work of the devil, is all nothing but a myth. It is not true.” 

Hope you enjoyed your New Year festivities! Next year you might need a barbeque. Please keep reading and liking, and commenting! If you need some light reading, here’s my complete listing of Hannibal films and episodes.

“All I want is to eat that arm and become like you”, DISTRICT 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

Back in 2009, fifteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa seemed to be the obvious place to make movies that offered clear metaphors about racism and xenophobia. Today, they’d probably be filmed in Minneapolis, but nonetheless, after more than ten years, this movie works just as well, perhaps even better in this time, when people have to fight for their lives against both racism and an invasive disease.

DISTRICT 9 is directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson (yes, that Peter Jackson), and set in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is presented as “found footage” – fictional news stories, CCTV and interviews. District 9 is an internment camp for aliens – not from across the border or across the ocean, but across the universe. A giant UFO hovers above the city showing no signs of life, and when the authorities cut their way inside they find it is full of diseased and starving aliens, who look, as Roger Ebert said, like two metre tall lobsters. They are brought to land and housed in a secure area – District 9 – where they recover, and cause havoc with their love of wrecking stuff and eating lots of cat food.

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Yes, it’s not without humour. There are “interviews” with people of different races, all saying that these aliens – now known universally as “prawns” – should be sent home or else taken out of the city, away from human contact. Resettlement camp, detention centre, ghetto – those who are different can be separated with just some pernicious circumlocution.

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The movie follows Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a naïve and nerdy mid-level executive in a huge multi-national corporation called MNU (it stands for Multi National United), which supplies mercenaries for just such situations.

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Wikus heads off with his army and a clipboard, believing that he is going to knock on doors and ask the “prawns” to agree to be moved to a new camp, whereas of course the whole process is aimed at intimidation and terrorising of the populace.

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Searching one building, he finds a tube of alien fuel, which they have been synthesising for twenty years, planning an escape. He opens it, and it sprays all over him.

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Soon, he starts metamorphosing into a “prawn” – his hand turns into an alien claw, and his teeth and nails start to fall out. This is obviously a big problem – actually two. First, his company, MNU, wants to cut him up and study his organs, desperate to learn how to transmute others, because the aliens have immensely powerful weapons that will only operate in the hands of someone with alien DNA. He escapes back to District 9, pursued by the sadistic head of the corporation’s private army, who personifies white supremacist violence.

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Back in District 9, Wikus is captured by a Nigerian criminal gang, who make their fortune from the aliens, selling them cat food, and offering interspecies prostitution (delicately presented). The Nigerians’ leader, whose name is taken from that of a former President of Nigeria, also wants to control those weapons, and believes eating Wikus’ arm will make him part alien as well. Why not just eat a prawn? Oh, they’ve tried that.

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The trope of cannibals taking on the strengths of those they eat has been around pretty much forever. It is used to explain both mortuary cannibalism, where the strength of the ancestors is passed to the descendants through their flesh, and also aggressive cannibalism where the legs of the fastest enemy, or the testicles – you get the idea. It revolves around the idea that “you are what you eat”, but if you believe that, well, what does that say about the trolls who love to write “But BACON!” on vegan social media sites?

The film was shot around Johannesburg, and the squalid hovels shown were in an area of Soweto that was being demolished and the people relocated. The story is based on the true case of District Six in Capetown, where 60,000 inhabitants were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. But finding a parallel story of forced removals of oppressed populations would not be difficult in most of the world’s nations. A reviewer wrote in an article entitled “District 9 reveals human inhumanity”:

“Substitute “black,” “Asian,” “Mexican,” “illegal,” “Jew,” or any number of different labels for the word “prawn” in this film and you will hear the hidden truth behind the dialogue, echoing what we historically as a species are all too capable of doing.”

Several different facets of cannibalism are presented in District 9. The Nigerians eat “prawns” – is that cannibalism, or if not, what about their plan to eat Wikus as he transforms into a prawn? The big corporation is only interested in the billions of dollars that will come from working out how to operate the alien weapons, and are ready and willing to sacrifice Wikus and use his body parts in pursuit of this goal. The aliens are tall and powerful (pulling people limb from limb in a few scenes) and look a bit reminiscent of the creatures from the Alien movie franchise, even though they don’t eat each other or the humans; but  they are keen on meat from other species like pigs and goats and whoever ends up in the slurry called cat food.

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The formal definition of cannibalism tries to restrict the definition to humans eating humans, but it is always leaking out the sides. What we see in this film is the way that anyone can be abused, objectified and even eaten if they can be reclassified as inhuman or subhuman. Wikus starts the story happy to burn down shacks full of alien eggs, enjoying the sound of the eggs bursting, which sounds like popcorn. Captured by the corporation and made to operate alien weapons, he is happy to destroy pigs but begs not to be made to shoot the aliens. Later, turning into a “prawn”, he is more than happy to use the alien weapons to blow apart various soldiers of his former employer, to protect the prawns. The irony of this film is that Wikus, who is a fully carnophallogocentric human in the terms used by Derrida (“adult white male, European, carnivorous and capable of sacrifice”), only finds his humanity when he begins morphing into something else and becomes one of the outsiders he previously disdained.

It’s well worth seeing – if you don’t dig the message, then there’s plenty of action scenes, car chases and explosions. Some unintended explosions after the movie, too, when the Nigerian Information Minister asked cinemas to ban the film because it depicted Nigerians as criminals and cannibals. Not the first time white people have applied those epithets against Africans, and the film also scored a mention in Salon’s list of “white saviour” movies, since Wikus is white, and desperate to remain so. But the Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, who played the gang leader, said that the Nigerians in the cast weren’t bothered: “It’s a story, you know. It’s not like Nigerians do eat aliens. Aliens don’t even exist in the first place.” Sensible, but not a great look for a film that is slamming racist stereotypes through the metaphor of speciesism.

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The direction is adroit and the story buzzes along with never a dull moment. The acting is first rate, even the guys in the alien suits become sympathetic characters, and the special effects are first rate. The film has a 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s available on Netflix.