The Practice of Child Sacrifice: Yes It Sounds Metal, But This Is Not Supposed To Be Entertainment

Posted: January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

I’m a happy guy, and I’d wager that people typically come away with the impression that I’m more buoyant than average. But since childhood I’ve been inclined toward macabre subject matter in film, books, and music. Even in pre-school, I colored black into the rainbow during a class activity, my teacher promptly admonishing me. I didn’t comprehend her disapproval; in my 5-year old universe, rayon in the rainbow was perfectly sensible. And as the saying goes, it was all downhill from there.

Interest in the sinister side of our earthly experience manifested – as will happen – in my pre-teen years when I began listening to metal, and by the time I was fourteen I’d become a full-throttle death metal nut. I’m from a supportive family with reasonable parents who let me listen to whatever music I liked. My folks only asked that I understand the difference between art and reality. That’s a no-brainer for any metal fan I’ve known. None of us would want someone carrying out the sort of activity you hear about in a Cannibal Corpse song.

The sad part is, there is a sick reality in which some people exist. And it’s everywhere. It’s not restricted to a single place, time, or group of people. History shows that the world over, some folks simply live on a bizarre different plain, and their values aren’t the same as yours and mine. They are thankfully a minority, but still: remember what the cops found in Jeff Dahmer’s Milwaukee apartment?

So the week I arrived in Kampala – a city sufficiently modern that they even have Mountain Dew – I was reminded of this fact by a newspaper article entitled “East Leads Uganda in Child Sacrifice”. Which, as you’d imagine, piqued my interest for all the wrong reasons. Are we to believe that the northern, southern, and western regions of the Ugandan nation likewise have peeps who engage in activities of such perverse suffering? And the east just happens to be taking the statistical lead? And why does the east do better than the rest: is it sheer talent or conviction propelling them to the front of the pack? There’s no way around it, this stuff is insane. It also occurred to me that while metal bands frequently sing about this stuff as a matter of routine course, and all we metal fans throw up horns in approval of The Most Brutal Lyrics EVER, this stuff truly is no laughing matter and, honestly, we probably shouldn’t be treating it as entertainment, even though we do so with no ill intention. It’s probably for the same reason that the majority of the gangsta rap purchasing public in America is middle-class Caucasians; they are intrigued by a reality that most (unless you’re Enimem or Vanilla Ice, of course) will never have to live, like a kind of intellectual or artistic tourism. But in Uganda, real kids are being cut to real pieces, and that’s wroth keeping in mind

After the article, I kept my eyes open for anything related to the topic, and was frankly floored by how rapidly I found myself surrounded by information tidbits related to child sacrifice. It’s as though the gates were opened and the information flowed forth onto my daily radar. To be fair, it’s not just Uganda. The world in general is a tough place for children. Not everyone gets the “level playing field” upbringing and opportunities that come from simply being randomly whelped by yo’ momma in the United States, Canada, or another developed industrial nation; and even in those places, there abounds a plethora of youth that doesn’t carry a light load in life. Ever been so southeast DC? Los Angeles’ skid row? The Mississippi Delta and many parts of Alabama or Arkansas?

But when you add the complicating, exacerbating elements of being born in a place like the Ugandan countryside to the mix, you’re staring dumb and defenseless into the grill of a downright combustible situation, the kind of place Pat Benetar referenced in the song “Hell is for Children”. Look at the poverty into which most of the kids here are born, even ones in the supposedly “better off” urban zone; the near-total dearth of education and onward employment opportunities; the lack of adequate health care for the overwhelming majority of the national population, resulting in a high infant mortality rate, massive HIV/AIDS infection incidence, and a life span on average of 54 years. Think about that last statistic. We’re still a full decade from official retirement age at 54 in the United States, and most folks will tell you that’s when you enter the best years of life. Don’t we all joke that mid-fifties are when it’s time for a second puberty, a mid-life crisis, a new Porsche? Not so in Uganda. You’re born into a fight-or-die scenario and it doesn’t shift even marginally more into your unfortunate favor even under optimal circumstances most of the time you live. So you get the impression that even when their parents are doing their absolute best, the striking multitude of Ugandan children don’t have reasonable expectation of a brighter tomorrow.

An additional consideration ought be voiced for little girls born into these places. The countryside practice of genital mutilation comes to mind as a gender-specific detriment girls here face from the time they leave the womb. Recently, reports have been numerous on local radio shows in Kampala about the practice of female relatives using coconuts to smash the breasts of girls once they hit their teenage years. The rationale, apparently, is to make them less desirable to men, thereby reducing the possibility of teenage pregnancies. It is hard for any reasonable person to understand how this short-sighted and brutal technique makes anything better whatsoever for the child in question, the community she inhabits, or the overall Ugandan nation. And national leadership’s near-total silence on the theme can only be understood as a tacit approval of it. Then again, this ought come as no shock: even the president here recently stated of homosexuals that “even with legislation [referring to a recent draconian anti-gay bill passing through the Ugandan Parliament] they will simply go underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons. […]. You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people.”

So a few days ago, I had to interview a Ugandan man as part of my official duties. He came calling for a tourist visa, and would be traveling to the United States to a known university that had invited him to present a paper about the practice of child sacrifice in the Ugandan countryside. Fascinated to meet someone on the “good guy” side of the divide – and to be sure, most Ugandans ARE on the right side of history in this case – I asked him things related to his job, already planning to approve his visa but assuming his endeavors were predominantly within the academic realm. I assumed he used solely words on paper to affect a change in people’s thinking, but that he wasn’t on the “action” side of the equation. All good, since anything to fight child sacrifice is noble and worthy, since it all has the potential of changing minds and drawing awareness to the issue.

But how wrong I was. Borrowing a page from Quixote’s “hazanas, no palabras” (actions, not words) playbook, this guy also has a hardcore side: he goes undercover to infiltrate child sacrifice shrines throughout the countryside, documenting those responsible and, tragically, the children who are on the business end of the knife. With all gravity he said to me, “Believe me, I could tell you some stories.” He then proceeded to reconstruct an abbreviated version of the laundry list of horrors he’d personally witnessed in the course of his labors, and told me of the specific things that had happened to the “fortunate” survivors featured in the two info pamphlets I included at the outset of this posting: tongues cut out, heads machete-whacked, though somehow saved last-minute and spirited away prior to hearts being carved from torsos. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s insane that this sort of stuff happens in the world, but outstanding to see even one person taking a stand against it.

The interview made me feel blessed for a litany of reasons. First, though I’ll preface this by saying I’m not an uber-nationalistic guy, times like these make me feel fortunate to be American. Yes, we have our problems, but they’re nothing like THAT. Second, I’m in a job that gives me the capacity, even in a very limited manner, to combat this sort of thing: the consular officer who approves the guy’s visa so he can travel to the US and bring attention to the issue; the political officer who demarches local or national government about it; the public relations officer who gives a speech decrying the practice and condemning it with every iota of the collective spirit of the world community. Never a dull moment, even when elements of the day-to-day grind can sometimes feel frustrating or you’re dealing in dark subject matter you’d rather not. But approving this man for travel was one of the bright moments for me. It really doesn’t get any better.

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