Werewolf Fact of the Day

Werewolf Book 2e
ISBN: 9781578593675

What creature was worshipped by an ancient, lycanthropic cult in Africa?

  • The cult was particularly widespread in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
  • The cult members had to be rounded up in the late 1940s.
  • Their warfare imitated their totem creature.
  • They used an elixir called Borfima to aid their transformations.

The Leopard

In ancient Egypt, the leopard was regarded as an aspect of divinity and associated with the god Osiris, the judge of the dead. For many African tribes, the leopard is a totem animal that is believed to guide the spirits of the dead to their rest.

A deadly cult whose members expressed their were-leopard lust for human blood and flesh has been in existence in West Africa for several hundred years. Particularly widespread in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, its members regularly eat human flesh in their religious ceremonies. Those who aspire to become initiates in the cult brought back a bottle of their victim's blood and drink it in the presence of the assembled members. The cult killed as did the leopard, by slashing, gashing, mauling their victims with steel claws and knives. They prepared a magical elixir known as Borfima, brewed from their victim's intestines, which they believed gave them superhuman powers and allowed them to become leopards.

After a serious outbreak of systematic murders and human sacrifices by the cult shortly after the First World War, the authorities believed that they had rounded up its leaders and broken the strength of the Leopard Men. In spite of the executions of numerous key cult members, the Leopard Men only went underground and conducted sporadic human sacrifices.

The cult's principal executioner in its ritual sacrifices was known as the Bali Yeli. This grim individual wore the ritual leopard mask and a leopard skin robe, and after the selected victim had been dragged to the jungle shrine, he performed the act of ritual murder with a deadly, two-pronged steel claw.

In 1948, there were forty-eight instances of murder that the police were forced to attribute directly to an upsurge in the leopard cult. After two decades of lying relatively low, the Leopard Men had returned to work savage, full-scale carnage on the people of Sierra Leone and Nigeria. During the first seven months of 1947, there were forty-three known killings that bore the bloody, unmistakable marks of the Leopard Men.

When the police fired upon a cult member in the act of murdering a victim and killed him with their bullets, the people of the region began to accept the reality that the Leopard Men were only vicious humans, not supernatural beings. Witnesses began to come forward with clues to the identity of cult members and the possible location of their secret jungle shrine.

The shrine itself was discovered deep in the jungle, cunningly hidden and protected by a huge boulder. The cult's altar was a flat stone slab that was covered with dark bloodstains. Human bones were strewn over the ground. A grotesque effigy of a were-leopard, half-man, half-beast, towered above the gore-caked altar.

During February 1948, seventy-three initiated members of the cult were arrested and sent to prison. Eventually, thirty-nine of them were sentenced to death and hanged in Abak Prison, their executions witnessed by a number of local tribal chiefs.

From The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings, Second Edition by Brad Steiger, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R) Steiger's homage to the beast within provides meaty facts for the lycanthropic in all of us.

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