Chapter

Inlaws and Outlaws, 1946

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625536.003.0006
Inlaws and Outlaws, 1946

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By February 1946 the murders had resulted in a breakdown in law and order on such a scale that the administrative map was redrawn and eight Court Areas from Abak and Opobo Divisions were amalgamated to create the ‘Leopard Area’. This zone was frequently referred to as the ‘infected area’ and the killings as a whole were discussed in an idiom of contagion and disease. The crisis was called an ‘outbreak’, and villages in which no suspicious deaths were recorded were said to be ‘immune’. The atmosphere and daily routines of people living in the villages around Ibesit and Ikot Afanga were dominated by confusion and fear. People were so frightened of the human-leopard killers that they would urinate in their houses at night for fear of stepping outside in the dark. Parents would lock their children in the house if they were leaving them at home to go to market. These fears, however, were not confined to the anxiety of physical attacks. The fear of being accused of involvement in ékpê ówó was also strong and people would not go out for fear of being named as an associate or of being in a particular place at a particular time. The leopard murders constituted what people today call íní ádót úyó (lit. time of slander or false accusation).

Keywords: murders; law; order; human-leopard killers; slander; false accusation

Chapter.  23283 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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