The terrifying murderous cult of the Leopard Men…
Yesterday, I blogged about a nefarious juju man currently operating in London called The Leopard Man. Below is a section from my book HUMAN SACRIFICE covering the history of the Human Leopard Society of Sierra Leone.
WARNING: If you are of a nervous disposition DO NOT read.
THE LEOPARD MEN
One of the earliest underground killing cults to be documented became known as the Human Leopard Society of Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa. The cult focused on the creation of medicines made out of human entrails. As long ago as 1607, a visitor to the region wrote of fierce, man-eating tribes who lived in the interior of the country and dressed as leopards.
In 1807, coastal Sierra Leone became a British colony, but the leopard societies were so secretive that the authorities didn’t get wind of them until 1891. A bill was quickly drafted outlawing the society. It stated: “Many murders have been committed by men so dressed to resemble leopards and armed with a three-pronged knife commonly known as a leopard knife.”
The bill made it a crime to possess a leopard skin shaped to resemble a leopard, a three-pronged knife and an unusual native medicine known as “Borfima”. The police were given powers to search for such items without a warrant. The chiefs of the inland tribes were subject to harsh penalties if they failed to report Leopard Society activities. But the human leopards were not intimidated by the might of Britain. In fact it turned out they’d got allies: in 1902 a Human Alligator Society was uncovered, which worked in parallel with the leopards. An extra prohibition was duly added to the bill, outlawing the wearing of alligator skins shaped to resemble the reptiles.
By 1903 it became clear that many chiefs in the region were involved in the cults. In the resulting crackdown, four hundred tribal people were arrested, some highly placed, but few were brought to trial due to lack of evidence. As a result, more legislation and prohibitions were brought in. A special court of three European judges was also put in place to try offenders. Armed with these extra measures the government succeeded in bringing the activities of the Leopard societies to a virtual halt within a few years. By 1912, seventeen cases had come before the court: 187 people were charged with murder, of whom 87 were given the death sentence.
But why did the human leopards kill?
Well the answer partly lay in Borfima. The ingredients needed to make this native medicine, which was typically kept in a tight leather pouch, included the white of an egg, the blood of a cock and a few grains of rice. But the key elements were human fat and blood – which could only be obtained by murderous ritual. Borfima was considered very powerful medicine; it could bring power and riches, but could also be used as a protective charm for anyone unlucky enough to be hauled before the British court, with its alien notions of justice.
Leopard societies were selective about who they killed to extract the fat and blood needed for making Borfima. The victim had to be a freeborn girl (not a slave or captive) and over fourteen-years-old. Ideally the girl would be the eldest child of the family who provided her. In later years, a man or boy was considered acceptable, but a girl was still the preferred choice. Making the native medicine also took center stage during the long and complicated initiation into the Human Leopard Society. Chillingly, the would be initiate had to produce a sacrificial victim from his own or his wife’s family.
Once a victim had been chosen, the human leopards hit the forest and marauded throughout the night, imitating the roar of their totem beast. At a specified time, the victim was made to walk along a special forest track. Leopard men kept watch on both sides of the track for the girl’s approach, hiding behind the dense walls of creepers that thrive in the humid jungles of Sierra Leone. After the victim passed the watching leopard men, the silence would suddenly be shattered by a deep-throated growl. Then the leopard man who had been designated executioner would leap out of the undergrowth and – with a lightning strike – would tear out the girl’s throat.
His companions would then carry the girl off into the depths of the undergrowth, where her head would be hacked off and the liver, heart and entrails torn out. Once the leopard men had carefully examined the liver for signs that the body would make an effective Borfima, the corpse was divided into four quarters. These were then carved up and wrapped in banana leaves and handed out to each of the leopard men. Lastly, the girl’s face would be cut away so that her remains would not be recognized.
This was the most common form of the ritual. But it differed from area to area. In one particularly grisly ceremony, the girl was not killed straight away, but forced to sit under a tree. The tribal chief who led the sacrifice, which was intended to bring good fortune to the tribe, would then sit astride her shoulders. Those present all laid a hand on the chief or the victim to make a psychic connection. After this the chief prayed that good medicine should come from the offering and slashed the victim’s throat. Her body was then cut open and the other participants tore out the intestines.
Victims sometimes survived the ordeal; but alive or dead, she would be taken to a platform outside the chief’s hut and left there tied to a post. The following morning the body would be taken back to the jungle to be cut up. The chief received the hands and feet, and a small portion of the flesh was given to the mother and father of the victim.
Taken from Human Sacrifice by Jimmy Lee Shreeve (AKA Doktor Snake)