Eating People is Still Wrong

Andrew Donaldson writing in his column in the South African newspaper The Weekend Argus discusses the current status of cannibalism. This article, written with tongue firmly in cheek, was inspired by recent expressions of concern among South African politicians about the possible return of the practice in remote and deprived parts of South Africa. Among the sources discussed in the article is Evelyn Waugh:

Also to be avoided… is perhaps reading too much into literary works on Africa such as Evelyn Waugh’s landmark Black Mischief (London, 1932). That novel concerns the Oxford-educated Emperor Seth’s attempts to modernise Azania, his fictional island homeland off the east coast of Africa. To assist him in this endeavour, he recruits one Basil Seal, a shiftless college friend and heir to an English political dynasty…Before long, Seth is deposed in a coup d’état and dies while in hiding. At his funeral feast, Basil discovers, to his horror, that he has been eating the stewed remains of his girlfriend, Prudence. He returns to England where he becomes “serious”, which disturbs his layabout friends in London. In this regard, the persistent rumours surrounding the gustatory habits of such tyrants as Uganda’s Idi Amin, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Central African Republic’s Jean-Bedél Bokassa seem to suggest that Seth’s Azania is still very much with us.

Other comments on the practice are sourced from writings of Edgar Allan Poe and JP Donleavy and collected songs of British sailors.

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