Books and Arts;Book review;Black magic in London;
Crimes of passion;The Boy in the River. By Richard Hoskins.
In the late 1980s Richard Hoskins, young and newly married, spent six years as a missionary in Bolobo, upriver from the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. Now back in Britain and something of an Africa specialist, he advises the authorities on tribal and ritual crimes. In his new book, “The Boy in the River”, Mr Hoskins argues that these atrocities are a perversion of African belief systems and highly unusual.
His first case, in 2002, involved the mutilated torso of a boy they named Adam, found in the River Thames. The police thought it was a muti killing, a South African practice that involves removing organs for use in tribal medicines. Mr Hoskins recognised that Adam was in fact a human sacrifice (a term the police initially recoiled at) by a Nigerian tribe. His evidence was the precise slit in the victim’s neck and a body drained of blood—a divine tribute that is condemned as juju, or black magic, in West Africa. The boy’s killer has not yet been convicted, but the investigation did uncover a trafficking ring that smuggled African children to Britain for such ritualistic abuses.
Mr Hoskins and his wife suffered their own tragedy in Congo; one of their twins was stillborn, the other died before she was two. He admits his work presents emotional challenges. But he is not overly sentimental. He writes about criminology, how the police deal with the media and the perverted beliefs behind the crimes. Much of the book is about kindoki. Mr Hoskins understands this as a benign affliction treated with a potion of plant extracts from a nganga, a traditional healer. But there is a growing trend of pastors in new revivalist Christian churches, both in Africa and Britain, preaching a different, malevolent kind of kindoki. They convince parents that their children are possessed by demons which must be exorcised through isolation, fasting and beatings. Gullible and desperate believers, who consider their pastors to be “little Gods”, will pay good money for them to cure this malady.
在刚果，霍斯金斯夫妇自己也惨遭了不幸；双胞胎中的一个是死胎，而另一个在两岁前死亡。他承认在他的作品中带给了读者情感上的挑战。但他并没有过度感伤。他写到犯罪学，警察怎样与媒体周旋，怎样应对罪行背后扭曲的信仰。书的大部分是关于kindoki (非洲巫术手册)。霍斯金斯先生把这认为是一种较为仁慈的折磨，用从 nganga(刚果哺果苏木)中提取的植物药剂治疗，这是一种传统治疗物。但在非洲及英国，复兴基督教会的牧师有增加的趋势，布道一种不同的、恶毒的kindoki。他们使得父母们相信自己的孩子被魔鬼蛊惑，必须通过隔离、禁食和鞭打才能除怪。这些将他们的牧师当做“小神”的绝望而易受骗的信徒们，就会付出很多的钱给他们以治愈这种疾病。
The most harrowing case is that of Kristy Bamu. Attempting to exorcise the boy of kindoki, his sister and her boyfriend tortured him to death over five days in December 2010 using an array of weapons, including light bulbs, floor tiles, knives and pliers. Mr Hoskins testified in court that Africans do not practise exorcism like this.
最悲惨的事例是一个叫克里斯蒂 巴姆的男子。为了驱除kindoki 的鬼怪，在2010年十二月，他在被妹妹及妹妹的男朋友使用大量武器，包括电灯泡，地板瓷砖，刀子及拳脚相加折磨五天后死去。霍斯金斯先生在法庭上证明非洲人并不用这样的方式除怪。
It is heartening to read that the British authorities go to great lengths to solve these crimes, but infuriating to learn about the flaws in the system. An important witness to the Adam crime, for example, was deported before she could be properly questioned. An eye-opening book that makes a strong case for cultural understanding.