In 2005, photojournalist Pieter Hugo saw a cellphone pic of a group of men in Lagos, Nigeria walking down the street with chained hyenas. The picture intrigued him enough to track them down and eventually go visit them.
In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practicing a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days traveling with them.
The animal handlers make use of herbs, concoctions, powders, amulets and esoteric incantations to catch and train their captives, protect themselves against harm and build up their own confidence. Amulets are also placed into ‘akayau’, metal rings tied around the men’s ankles, to enhance their dancing skills. The handlers believe that humans are capable of transforming themselves into animals such as hyenas, hence the need for powerful voodoo charms and incantations as protection.
For lots more of this fascinating story see:http://www.pieterhugo.com/the-hyena-other-men/
Found via twentytwowords
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