Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stop! Theif!

There is a long list of things that I am afraid of, or concerned about, or at the very least vaguely apprehensive over. However, in certain parts of the world, there are 'lists of things to be afraid of' that are a bit longer than mine and certainly a bit more colorful.

Lets take penis stealing, for example.

In certain countries in Africa, there is a belief that a witch can steal your penis. The scene goes something like this.

You are riding the bus or shopping at a marketplace. A stranger asks for the time or randomly bumps into you. At that moment, a curious and overwhelming feeling creeps up on you. Your penis. Its shrinking, withering, growing smaller and smaller until it's completely gone! You don't think it's gone, you KNOW its gone. Someone has stolen your penis and in a desperate panic the only thing you can do is shout.

"Stop that person! They have stolen my penis!"

Now, in Boston or New York, this cry for help only has the effect of making people move a little farther away from you. However, in Nigeria this is a call to arms and everybody gets involved. The suspect is quickly apprehended. The bus driver will stop the vehicle. The culprit will be manhandled off the bus and given a good beating that will end if police arrive at the scene soon enough. At which time, it would be just as likely that the penis thief will be arrested rather than the people who were beating the thief up.

In this months Harpers Magazine, Frank Brures wrote a piece titled "A mind dismembered: In search of the magical penis thieves." where he interviews no less than two victims of this heinous crime. For those of you who are curious, the magical theft of penises was not permanent.

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