General Butt Naked - Early Religious Beliefs

Early Religious Beliefs

Blahyi is a member of the Sarpo tribe in Liberia. At age 11, he claims he was initiated as a tribal priest and participated in his first human sacrifice. During the course of the three-day ritual that followed, Blahyi says that he had a vision in which he was told by the Devil that he would become a great warrior and that he should continue to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism to increase his power. The Krahn elders later appointed him as high priest, a position that would lead him to become the spiritual advisor to Liberian President Samuel Doe. Blahyi adhered to a complex traditional belief system as a Krahn priest, and like many in Africa he has mixed those beliefs fluidly with Christianity. Blahyi himself explains, "I was a high priest for the biggest god under the Krahn tribe, and the late Samuel K. Doe, being a fellow tribesman, was automatically placed under my jurisdiction . . . I also placed Nyanbe-a-weh amongst the first three high-ranking deities in West Africa’s black-witch coastal line division." Nyanbe-a-weh was Blahyi’s protecting deity who—according to him—demanded ritual sacrifice; Blahyi would come to believe that Nyanbe-a-weh was the devil. He explains that the Krahn tribe selects leaders based upon physical prowess rather than birthright. The selection process takes place through an annual fight: "The traditional fight was a no-holds-barred affair. The eventual victor was allowed to kill and maim to show his strength and bravery. The strongest or last man standing after the bloody contest will take over the birthright and the headship of the tribe."

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