Get an exclusive free story about Carey when he was a boy. Click here!Exclusive free story about Robert Carey, aged eight

NON-BANAL EVIL

It\’s an extraordinary film. \”The Redemption of General Butt Naked\” watches Joshua Milton Blahyi as he stomps the Bible-bashing trail in Liberia; he preaches in a storm of passion, his rhetoric and power filling the tent where the congregation sit meekly.
***
Evil doesn\’t get much more flamboyant than this. Blahyi is a big powerfully built man with extraordinary charisma. Once, during Liberia\’s miserable civil war, he was General Butt Naked. He would go into battle naked except for his shoes and has video to prove it, with his drugged-up child soldiers scampering down the street waving their Kalashnikovs, firing wildly and making no attempt at taking cover. They knew killing was OK: General Butt Naked had shown them films where actors seem to die and then they turn up in other films. So you see, just because someone\’s had their head shot off, doesn\’t mean they die. They just go off to another film.
***
He testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in Monrovia and said he had caused the deaths of 20,000 people. They recommended him for amnesty.
***
This is one of the most uncomfortable and ambiguous documentaries I\’ve ever seen. Blahyi speaks of his conversion to Christianity and sounds utterly sincere. He preaches completely believably. He goes to the people whose lives he ruined, whose families he killed, whose babies he mutilated, whose legs he shot off and he says sorry. He begs for forgiveness. Then he promises to look after them. Then he leaves them behind when another Liberian villain threatens to kill him. The man whose legs he shot off (his bodyguard, called Senegalese), who let the bishop in who converted him, died while he was away of TB. He gets the news on a new netbook and is instantly penitent. Again. So he goes back to Liberia.
***
Some of the people he hurt find the fantastic generosity to forgive him. Some seem to be afraid of him. Sometimes he seems truly penitent. One of his surviving child soldiers says wisely that he\’s maybe 75% good and 25% bad.
***
But it\’s hard not to see the megalomania and egotism still rampant in the man. Christian forgiveness is a wonderful idea; it\’s also bloody convenient for a mass-murderer.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.