Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hang On To Everything

You know how sometimes you go on vacation and you lose something? Sometimes you lose your luggage. Sometimes you lose your wallet. (More than once you've lost your dignity.) And although it really sucks to lose any of those, trust me when I say that you're going to want to hang onto a little bit more than your luggage, your wallet and your dignity if you're going to be spending any time in Congo, especially if you're a guy. Yeah, you're going to want to hold onto your penis as well. And not in the Biblical sense. (Wait. What?)

The headline over there at screams out, "Lynching in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital". Apparently, Congo has the unfortunate problem of "penis-snatching" (that's quite a twisted oxymoron if I've ever heard one). The more unfortunate problem is that it is not uncommon. Apparently, in West Africa there is a widespread belief in witchcraft and in traditional religions where ritual killings in order to get blood or body parts occurs regularly. WTF?! (I know of NO "traditional religions" that involve the stealing of someone else's penis! NONE!)

According to the fine folks over there at Reuters, the penis theft rumors began last week over there in Congo's capital of Kinshasa. I don't know why they used the term "rumors" to describe "penis theft". That seems like a pretty easy "rumor" to either verify or debunk. The validity of any sort of "penis thieving rumors" should be easily proven or disproven. (And you won't need a fancy test kit or anything like that to make your determination either. No, you'll just be able to eyeball this one and figure it out.) But, like rumors are known to do, they quickly spread and the talk radio shows were inundated with calls advising listeners "to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings." (It is apparently a little known fact that the main identifying mark of a penis thief is a gold ring. And that's odd because I would have thought that the main identifying mark of a penis thief would be someone carrying around an extra penis.) But then things start to get a little weird.

So far, 14 victims have "claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear." Some of the residents said that was an attempt to extort some cash from those with the newly shrunken (or vanished) genitals in exchange for a cure. (What exactly would the "cure" be for a "missing" penis?) The police have arrested some sorcerers as well as their victims. This is apparently "an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs." Ah, yes, the Angry Ghana Penis Riots of 1996. I remember them well. Wait. What? WTF?!?! No I DON'T!! Is someone making this stuff up!?!?!

Let's review because I'm confused. You've got a bunch of guys in Congo who say that some sort of wizard dude touched their schlong and made it shrink up like a frightened turtle in some cases and made it disappear all together in other cases. (The article isn't real clear as to HOW that disappearing penis trick works. I mean, I know magicians aren't supposed to reveal their secrets, but in this case it seems warranted. ) In the cases when "it" has shrunk up so much that they think that it's gone, the police have to verify the presence of the penis and then tell them that it's still there. However, according to Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, "But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'?" Good point, sir. I can see why you're the chief of police.
What have we learned? I'll tell you what we've learned. We've learned a hell of a lot more than we ever wanted to, that's for sure. And we're going to learn one more thing before we're done. Apparently, this sort of thing is also happening in the West African country of the Republic of Benin. But if you'll look at the map of Benin below, it kind of makes sense why it's happening THERE.

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