Ota Benga’s Short, Tragic Life As A Human Zoo Exhibit

His family was killed, he was taken as a slave, and he lived in the Bronx Zoo’s monkey house as a human exhibit.

Ota Benga Chimp

Ota Benga on display at the Bronx Zoo in 1906. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

On March 20, 1916, a 32-year-old African man named Ota Benga shot himself in the heart while being held against his will in the United States. Benga’s short, sad life was shaped by colonial avarice justified by the quack science of eugenics. Through it all, he did what he could to keep his dignity intact despite being subjected to the most degrading treatment imaginable. His story, like far too many tragedies, begins in the Congo, then known as the Congo Free State.

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What We Loved This Week, Mar. 13 – 19

The witch doctors of Sierra Leone, tiny structures built by insects, Texas’ female gun owners, European border photography, history’s most famous betrayals.

Witch Doctors Sierra Leone Teeth

Image Source: VICE

Spending A Week With The Witch Doctors Of Sierra Leone

Witch Doctors Sierra Leone

Image Source: VICE

When an American thinks of a physician, images of stethoscopes and syringes often come to mind. In Sierra Leone, at least among self-proclaimed witch doctors, things are a bit different. These unconventional medics often use black magic and herbal medicines to cure the sick, and claim that they can curse or even kill their enemies.

Intrigued by their practices, a VICE reporter went down to Sierra Leone to visit these doctors, all of whom are members of the National Council of Traditional Healers, and learn more about their craft. Check out her photographic documentation of the trip at VICE.

Witch Doctors Sierra Leone Pointing

Image Source: VICE

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World’s Largest Solar Plant Goes Live, Could Revolutionize Fight Against Climate Change

If there is anywhere in the world that solar power technology could deliver unprecedented amounts of renewable energy, it’s sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara Desert sees an average of less than 2.5 centimeters of rain annually, has an average temperature of 86°F, and reaches 122°F in the warmest months. But until February 4, no one had taken on the task of proving the extent of the solar energy value of this harsh climate. Moroccan King Mohammed VI is seeking to change all that.

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Your World This Week, Feb. 7 – 13

This week in health and politics: horrifying new report on female genital mutilation, Facebook pushes back against medical marijuana, the “science” of resting bitch face and how text messages might just save your life.

Female Genital Mutilation Affects 200 Million Worldwide, According To New U.N. Report

Female Genital Mutilation Map

A UNICEF map showing the rate of female genital mutilation in African countries as of 2013. Image Source: File:2013 Female Genital Mutilation Cutting FGM World Map UNICEF.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

According to a new UNICEF report, released just in time for yesterday’s Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, at least 200 million women and girls in 30 different countries have faced this horrific practice.

While the exact number of victims remains unknown, this new UNICEF estimate is, sadly, about 70 million higher than previous ones. Furthermore, this new report explains that in most countries, the majority of the victims were younger than five at the time of their mutilation.

“We start at three months,” Josephine Akissi Coulibaly, a former excisionist in Cote D’Ivoire, told CNN. “They are small and we do it. Sometimes they’re 18 years old. Sometimes they are mothers even. Often they bleed.”

Both the age and rate of mutilation vary across all the countries involved, with Somalia, Guinea, and Djibouti having the highest rate of mutilation, and Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia having the highest raw number of victims.

For more, visit CNN.

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