Execution of a Suspected Witch, Western Equatorial Africa, 1850s

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Image Reference

Paul B. Du Chaillu, Explorations & adventures in equatorial Africa (London, 1861), facing p. 398. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, "Decapitation Scene at Goumbi." The suspected witches were placed in a large canoe with the executioners, the witch doctor, and a number of other armed people. Each suspect was given "mboundou," a drink of a poison. If the suspect died, that proved his/her guilt, and decapitation followed. If the suspect was innocent "let the mboundou go out" (Du Chaillu, p. 398). Author travelled through western equatorial Africa in 1856-59.