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Sleeping with Cannibals


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A few choice quotes:

The other man, who turns out to be Kilikili's brother Bailom, pulls a human skull from a bag. A jagged hole mars the forehead. "It's Bunop, the most recent khakhua he killed," Kembaren says of the skull. "Bailom used a stone ax to split the skull open to get at the brains." The guide's eyes dim. "He was one of my best porters, a cheerful young man," he says."

"The fire's reflection flickers on the brothers' faces as Bailom tells me how he killed the khakhua, who lived in Yafufla, two years ago. "Just before my cousin died he told me that Bunop was a khakhua and was eating him from the inside," he says, with Kembaren translating. "So we caught him, tied him up and took him to a stream, where we shot arrows into him."

Bailom says that Bunop screamed for mercy all the way, protesting that he was not a khakhua. But Bailom was unswayed. "My cousin was close to death when he told me and would not lie," Bailom says.

At the stream, Bailom says, he used a stone ax to chop off the khakhua's head. As he held it in the air and turned it away from the body, the others chanted and dismembered Bunop's body. Bailom, making chopping movements with his hand, explains: "We cut out his intestines and broke open the rib cage, chopped off the right arm attached to the right rib cage, the left arm and left rib cage, and then both legs."

The body parts, he says, were individually wrapped in banana leaves and distributed among the clan members. "But I kept the head because it belongs to the family that killed the khakhua," he says. "We cook the flesh like we cook pig, placing palm leaves over the wrapped meat together with burning hot river rocks to make steam.

As we walk back to our hut, Kembaren confides that "years ago, when I was making friends with the Korowai, a man here at Yafufla told me I'd have to eat human flesh if they were to trust me. He gave me a chunk," he says. "It was a bit tough but tasted good."

Really interesting article... im half way through it.


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