Introduction: The Man-Leopard Murder Mysteries

David Pratten

in The Man-Leopard Murders

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625536
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670659 | DOI:
Introduction: The Man-Leopard Murder Mysteries

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This introductory chapter begins with a background of the ‘man-leopard’ murders, which occurred at Calabar Province in south-eastern Nigeria in 1945. At the time the police investigation was reported as the ‘biggest, strangest murder hunt in the world’, and it would become the last major investigation in Africa into killings linked to a shape-shifting cult. Three years later, when the police wound up their enquiries in early 1948, they calculated that 196 men, women and children had been victims of the man-leopard murders, though they also conceded that there were almost certainly more murders that were never brought to light. The discussion then turns to leopard men in fact and fiction. The chapter then sets out the purposes of the book, which are to revisit the criminal and forensic dimensions of the murder enquiries suggested by events in Calabar Province and elsewhere across the continent and place the murders in their historical context. The aim is to ask how life in colonial Nigeria, in its cultural, social, political and economic aspects, contributed to the murders, and in turn what the murders and their investigations say about life in colonial Nigeria.

Keywords: Nigeria; man-leopard murders; Calabar Province; colonial life; leopard men

Chapter.  11714 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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