Monday, April 19, 2010

Hairless Hostage

There are lots of things to fear when you're taken hostage by rebel militias in war-torn countries. There's execution, of course. But assuming you aren't immediately killed, you may also suffer beatings, malnutrition, or other health problems while in captivity. Even worse, the mysterious workings of the human mind may trick you into falling in love with your captors, which some rebels use as their primary recruiting method. But one Spanish traveler in the Congo has been subjected to another kind of torture by his hostage takers. They've shaved off all his body hair and braided it into magic trinkets to wear into battle. According to the Congolese government, a rebel leader known as Ibrahim believes that the hair of white people possesses certain mystical powers that can aid his underlings. Some hair-based talismans are said to turn oncoming bullets into water. As hostage treatment goes, being shaved probably isn't the worst thing that could have happened to this poor fellow. But then again, it's probably a safe bet that these rebels are dangerously untrained in the fine art of administering a Brazilian. More details here.