A man was killed by a mob Monday in Koudougou, a town in central Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”. It was not an isolated incident: there has been an increase in the number of these strange accusations being made in recent weeks.
This lynching took place in the 10th district of Koudougou, in the city’s west. It all started with a fight at a restaurant between two men: one accused the other of having cast a spell on him simply by touching him. The first man, a local mechanic, claimed that his penis had been "stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district. The first man called the police. But by then, a crowd had gathered around them. Incensed, the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street.
The first ‘genital disappearance’ case in Koudougou [during the last decade] was on May 2. Since then, I have counted a dozen similar cases in the city. It’s always the same story: someone complains about being approached and touched by a stranger, someone not from the neighbourhood. Immediately, the alleged victims complain of lower stomach pains, tremors, and say they can’t feel their genitals anymore. This only happens with men, and I have been told of it happening in several different parts of town.
A lot of people at the scene on Monday told me the alleged penis snatcher was a foreigner: some say he was Congolese, others say he was Rwandan or Burundian. Without any explanation, people blame “a foreigner”. It turns out that this person was a Burundian marabout [Muslim holy man] from Koudougou’s 8th district.