The Truth about Cannibalism
Typical Western thought directs people to examine the practices of cannibalism as savage and primitive. More often than not, this type of association exists because the people viewing the action are frightened and confused by that which they do not understand. In fact, some would even claim that, “cannibalism is merely a product of European imagination” (Barker, 2), thereby completely denying its existence. The belief that cannibalism goes against “human instinct”, as seen in many literary works including Tarzan, reduces those who practice it to being inhuman. (Barker, 1) However, scientific findings demonstrate that those who practice cannibalism are still human despite their difference in beliefs; therefore, not only can rationalization be extrapolated from those who practice the act of cannibalism, but also denying the fact of the participant’s very humanity has been undermined through scientific findings.
The spectrum of logic behind cannibalism is wide in scope and varies in each tribe. In Africa there are a number of cannibalistic tribes, the two most notable being the Fang and Azande tribes. The Fang tribe occupied the Gabun district north of the Ogowh River in the French Congo. According to Mary Kingsley, “The Fang is not a cannibal for sacrificial motives” and is considered by many to be “morally superior to the Negro”. (encyclopedia.org) However, despite displaying higher moral standards, the Fang tribe has been purported to be “utterly indifferent to human life.” (encyclopedia.org) Yet, it was not indifference that served as the basis of practicing the acts of cannibalism but rather they simply found nothing wrong in doing so. In the Fang “a woman who bore with her a piece of the thigh of a human body, just as we should go to the market and carry thence a roast or steak.” (heretical.com) Also, the Azande tribe chooses to practice a cannibalistic lifestyle due to a similar belief structure. Interestingly, the Azande were even more feared, however, because they attacked other tribes not only to eat some of the captured, but also to sell others as slave trade.
The Hua and Gimi tribes of New Guinea differ greatly in theoretical...