April 26, 2012
A Congo Mother Survives Cannibalism to Save Her Children

We don’t know much about Maria. A photographer named Marcus Bleasdale met her in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August of 2003. She was breastfeeding one of her three children, resting the infant’s head on her good arm. Her other arm ends at the elbow, where it’s capped by a fresh cast that reads “31/8,” probably meaning that it can be removed on August 31. Her older son is also in the frame, bandages dangling from his scalp.
Maria told the photorapher that she lost the limb defending her children from one of the militant groups then terrorizing Ituri province, her home. Soldiers hacked it off at the elbow and ate the flesh. Maria does not say if the soldiers forced her to watch as they cooked and consumed her arm, but she would not have been the first in Ituri’s war. When the sub-conflict of the Congolese Civil War peaked from 1999 to 2003, stories of cannibalism started to trickle out.
Stories like Maria’s, and the larger Congolese conflict of which it was a part, are something we still talk about today. An art exhibit, meant to raise awareness, is currently shuttling Maria’s photo around the globe, showing it and others to people in the highest levels of government. But the reasons we talk about Maria are nearly as complicated as the story itself, which is now mostly over, and risks over-simplifying our understanding as much as aiding it.
Read more. [Image: Marcus Bleasdale, VII]

A Congo Mother Survives Cannibalism to Save Her Children

We don’t know much about Maria. A photographer named Marcus Bleasdale met her in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August of 2003. She was breastfeeding one of her three children, resting the infant’s head on her good arm. Her other arm ends at the elbow, where it’s capped by a fresh cast that reads “31/8,” probably meaning that it can be removed on August 31. Her older son is also in the frame, bandages dangling from his scalp.

Maria told the photorapher that she lost the limb defending her children from one of the militant groups then terrorizing Ituri province, her home. Soldiers hacked it off at the elbow and ate the flesh. Maria does not say if the soldiers forced her to watch as they cooked and consumed her arm, but she would not have been the first in Ituri’s war. When the sub-conflict of the Congolese Civil War peaked from 1999 to 2003, stories of cannibalism started to trickle out.

Stories like Maria’s, and the larger Congolese conflict of which it was a part, are something we still talk about today. An art exhibit, meant to raise awareness, is currently shuttling Maria’s photo around the globe, showing it and others to people in the highest levels of government. But the reasons we talk about Maria are nearly as complicated as the story itself, which is now mostly over, and risks over-simplifying our understanding as much as aiding it.

Read more. [Image: Marcus Bleasdale, VII]

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    Holy shit that is horrifying.
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    A heaping dose of daily perspective.
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