Jean-Alfred and I were having dinner one night with another expatriate couple in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Like us, they were a couple with different nationalities; both men were French and our hostess, Emily, was English. We were discussing an article which had appeared in a weekly newspaper.

Nigeria, being a former British colony, is officially an English-speaking country. Unlike many African countries under a repressive government, it had an amazing number of newspapers. Not exactly heavy reading; the national press was more along the lines of sensationalism   :   the octogenarian who gave birth to a snake, the market crowd that beat a lorry driver senseless when he knocked a man off a bicycle with his vehicle, that sort of thing.

The article under discussion concerned a small village far from the beaten track in northern Rivers State, a place with less than fifty residents. There had been a village celebration for one reason or another, and the palm wine flowed freely. The party, starting Friday afternoon, reached its peak on Saturday night when the villagers killed the schoolteacher. He, coming from another part of Nigeria, was the only person living in the village who was not a member of the local tribe.

Why they killed him was not stated, but they then proceeded to put him in a big pot and boil him all night long. The next day the villagers ate what they could. The teacher had apparently been a big man; the partygoers took the leftovers home in plastic bags.

Our host, Jean-Claude, turned to his English rose. “There you have it,” he exclaimed. “That’s the influence you British left in this country. Everything you cook is boiled to death.”

No sources. It’s a true story.

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