The horrifying account of a Liberian warlord-turned-preacher who fought naked and ate human flesh


When Samuel Doe was elected president of Liberia in a coup in 1980, Joshua Milton Blahyi, sometimes known as “General Butt Naked,” became his spiritual adviser and even helped Doe win a second term. Then, in December 1989, a former Liberian government officer named Charles Taylor overthrew the Doe Government, plunging Liberia into civil war. Next to a ceasefire in 1996, Taylor was elected the following year, but only two years later, another rebel group from Guinea attacked the country, sparking a new battle.

In the 1990s, warring militias ruled the majority of Liberia. Gunfights erupted in the streets of Monrovia, the city, while another struggle erupted in the bush over control of gold mines and diamond resources. As the fighting progressed, a large number of rebel commanders reported to their militia chiefs. And one of these rebel commanders was Blahyi.


Blahyi led many soldiers under the Naked Base Commandos, who killed or mutilated thousands of people during the country’s deadly civil wars, especially in Monrovia, becoming one of the most feared and vicious individuals in the country’s bloody civil wars. Blahyi was known for fighting naked and eating human flesh. His soldiers, many of whom were children, fought in the same way, armed only with shoes and magical charms that Blahyi said rendered them bullet-proof.


Taylor’s men sought to arrest the militia leader whom Blahyi had reported on April 6, 1996. In Monrovia, Blahyi and other rebel commanders clashed with Taylor’s men, resulting in one of the most bloody clashes of the First Liberian Civil War. Blahyi was seen atop a vehicle, holding a machine pistol in one hand and a man’s severed genitals in the other, during combat.


The Liberian civil war claimed the lives of almost two hundred thousand people. When Taylor was deposed and the war concluded in 2003, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to investigate the war’s crimes. When the Commission first began work in 2006, the hearings were broadcast live on television and radio across the country. The first former warlord to testify was Blahyi, who claimed to be a repentant preacher at the time.


“I want to apologize,” he remarked during his 2008 testimony. “Everything I was doing was inhumane, diabolical, and wrong.”


Blahyi admits to killing 20,000 people and claimed to have gained magical powers through human sacrifice and cannibalism.

He explained, “I needed to make human sacrifices to placate the alleged deities, or gods.” “Every town I went to gave me the opportunity to do my human sacrifices, which included innocent children.”


He then described how he became a Christian just after the battle on April 6, which he said happened moments after the combat. When a vision of God appeared before him, he had just slaughtered a child and was about to consume the boy’s heart.


“With the bloodstains of the child still in my hands, I had a vision where Jesus contacted me and urged me to repent and live or refuse and die,” he added. “I didn’t fight that day because I couldn’t fight that day.”


Blahyi rose to prominence after his 2008 testimony. In Liberia, he made headlines, and journalists from all over the world flocked to interview him. “The Vice Guide to Liberia,” a documentary, has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube.


Blahyi created his Journeys Against Violence NGO in Monrovia a year before his testimony to rehabilitate former child soldiers through activities such as gardening and bricklaying. He claims to have transformed his life, but not everyone in Liberia believes him.


Blahyi was born in Monrovia, Liberia, on September 30, 1971, and has a family in Sinoe County, in southern Liberia. According to his biography, he was seven years old when his father took him to the Krahn elders in Sinoe County and abandoned him there, “The Redemption of an African Warlord.” He claimed that he was made high priest of a secret society there, which required him to execute human sacrifices every month.


“I said the invocation as a priest,” Blahyi explained. “The youngster has been murdered. Different elements of his body have been removed.” And it was for Doe, who was also of the Krahn ethnicity, Blahyi began performing Black magic. Blahyi was a well-respected clergyman during Liberia’s first civil war. Many of his kid soldiers, some as young as nine years old and most of whom were forcibly conscripted, kneeled while he recited the recantations.


According to other sources, Blahyi smuggled cocaine into the children’s food and forced them to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme films to teach them that “conflict was just an act.” Then, he claimed he gave them human remains to eat.

“I had to make a human sacrifice every time we seized a town,” he explained. “They bring a living child to me, which I slay and eat the heart from.”


He stated that he would distribute the heart to his warriors for consumption.


According to The New Yorker, after his conversion in 1996, Blahyi worked as a bodyguard for a bank official in Monrovia before selling tapes of his sermons on the street. Finally, he fled to Ghana, where he spent ten years in a refugee camp, fearing for his life. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings began in 2008, he returned to Monrovia to speak. After that, he was recommended for amnesty.


The former warlord, now a preacher, continues to seek pardon. “The people of Liberia, their forgiveness is relative – some have forgiven me, some haven’t forgiven me,” he continued. “But I know God has forgiven me because God says so.”


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