General Butt Naked

general butt naked by Paul Ward

Joshua Milton Blahyi (b. 1971), better known by his nom de guerre General Butt Naked, is a former leader for the Liberian warlord Roosevelt Johnson in the First Liberian Civil War known for his fierce, violent and eccentric measures in the first half of the 1990s. He was originally a tribal priest, and has returned to preaching after the war. Blahyi’s nom de guerre was appropriated for comical effect by the creators of the Broadway musical ‘The Book of Mormon’ as their fictional Ugandan warlord ‘General Butt Fucking Naked.’

Blahyi got his nickname, ‘General Butt Naked,’ from his nakedness which was supposedly demanded by the Devil. In his account of a typical battle Blahyi claimed, ‘So, before leading my troops into battle, we would get drunk and drugged up, sacrifice a local teenager, drink their blood, then strip down to our shoes and go into battle wearing colorful wigs and carrying dainty purses we’d looted from civilians. We’d slaughter anyone we saw, chop their heads off and use them as soccer balls. We were nude, fearless, drunk and homicidal. We killed hundreds of people – so many I lost count.’ Blahyi also purported that during that period he had ‘magical powers that made him invisible’ and a ‘special power’ to capture a town singlehandedly, then call in his troops afterwards to ‘clean up.’

Blahyi is a member of the Sarpo tribe in Liberia. At age 11, he claims, he was initiated as a tribal priest and participated in his first human sacrifice. During the course of the three day ritual that followed, Blahyi says that he had a vision in which he was told by the Devil that he would become a great warrior and that he should continue to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism to increase his power. The Krahn elders later appointed him as high priest, a position that would later lead him to become the spiritual advisor to Liberian President Samuel Doe. Blahyi adhered to a complex traditional belief system, and like many in Africa he has mixed those beliefs fluidly with Christianity.

Blahyi himself explains: ‘I was a high priest for the biggest god under the Krahn tribe, and the late Samuel K. Doe being a fellow tribesman, was automatically placed under my jurisdiction… I also placed nyanbe-a-weh amongst the first three high ranking deities in the West Africa’s black-witch coastal line division.’ Nyanbe-a-weh was Blahyi’s protecting deity who (according to Blahyi) demanded ritual sacrifice; Blahyi would come to believe that Nyanbe-a-weh was the devil. He explains that the Krahn tribe selects leaders based upon physical prowess rather than birthright. The selection process takes place through an annual fight: ‘The traditional fight was a no holds barred affair. The eventual victor was allowed to kill and maim to show his strength and bravery. The strongest or last man standing after the bloody contest will take over the birthright and the headship of the tribe.’

Blahyi has said he led his troops naked except for shoes and a gun. He believed that his nakedness was a source of protection from bullets. Blahyi now claims he would regularly sacrifice a victim before battle, saying, ‘Usually it was a small child, someone whose fresh blood would satisfy the devil.’ ‘Sometimes I would enter under the water where children were playing. I would dive under the water, grab one, carry him under and break his neck. Sometimes I’d cause accidents. Sometimes I’d just slaughter them.’ In 2008 he confessed to taking part in human sacrifices which ‘included the killing of an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat.’

Blahyi’s rampage ended in 1996, when the civil war in Liberia was coming to an end. He credits his conversion to a theophany in which Jesus Christ appeared to him as a blinding light and told him that he would die unless he repented of his sins. When he goes out to preach now, he says he sometimes encounters relatives of his victims. ‘I feel very bad, so bad,’ he said, but he insists it was satanic powers that possessed him in the past and he cannot be held responsible. He has since expressed willingness to be tried for war crimes at the Hague.

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