“You can come out of violence syndrome by developing yourself because most of the time violence comes from feelings of inferiority complex.” Joshua Blahyi

Background

Joshua Milton Blahyi, born September 30, 1971, and popularly known as General Butt Naked, is a former leader for the Liberian warlord Roosevelt Johnson in the First Liberian Civil war, known for his fierceness and violence in the first years of the 1990s. He was originally a tribal priest, and since the war he has converted to Christianity and had become a preacher

 

J.M. Blahyi is of the Sarpo tribe in Liberia.  He is not his father’s first son but was choosen because the deity didn’t want anyone of mixed tribe to succeed his father such that at age seven, Blahyi was already practicing the culture and tradition that would make him an effective priest. At age 11, he was initiated as a tribal priest and participated in his first human sacrifice. During the course of the three-day ritual that followed, Blahyi had a vision in which he was told by the Devil that he would become a great warrior and that he should continue to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism to increase his power. The Krahn elders later appointed him as high priest for the biggest god under the Krahn tribe. He explains that the Krahn tribe selects leaders based upon physical prowess rather than birthright. The selection process takes place through an annual fight: The eventual victor of the traditional fight was allowed to kill and maim to show his strength and bravery. The strongest or last man standing after the bloody contest will take over the birthright and the headship of the tribe.

Blahyi led his troops naked except for shoes and a gun, hence he got the name General Butt naked. He believed that his nakedness was a source of protection from bullets. Before Battle, Blahyi would regularly sacrifice to the devil, a victim, usually a child with fresh blood. Joshua Milton Blahyi is married with children.

While on a visit to Nigeria, courtesy of He’s Alive Church Pastorate, J.M. Blahyi shares his story in an exclusive interview with SEE Magazine chief Editor (Lawretta Emiakpor Ogrih).

 

LEO (SEE):  Share with us some of your responsibilities as a priest

J.M.Blahyi: I had the responsibilities of hearing from the deity and directing the tribe where they ought to go and what to do until the war came when I needed to provide spiritual security/protection for our President who was my subject. This I did until he died and my tribe went into exile.

During the First Liberian Civil war I led a mercenary unit, many of whom were child soldiers, that was known as the Butt Naked Brigade. We were funded by Roosevelt Johnson. And we fought alongside the ULIMO militia against militias led by Charles Taylor.


LEO (SEE): What sacrifices were you carrying out as a priest?

J.M.Blahyi : when I was initiated as a priest at age 11, I was doing a monthly human sacrifice which exposed me to a black witch society in West Africa. In my third year, my monthly sacrifice of 36 persons had surpassed all the sacrifices made by the head of the society in 27years, so he made me the head of the society.

Every night, I had a regular meeting between (12midnight and 4am) with the deity I was worshipping, I went to bed from 6 to 8o’clock and prepared myself spiritually for 2hours.


LEO (SEE): Tell us about your turning point

J.M.Blahyi : During one of the sacrifices, the bloodstain of a little child was still in my hands when I heard a voice behind me from a man in a white robe. He spoke my dialect, as I couldn’t speak English as at then. He called me a slave and asked me to repent otherwise I will die, after which he disappeared. I, being a priest thought I couldn’t be a slave but it was my first time of getting afraid, so in confusion, I sealed up the battle I had at hand and left the frontline.

As I had my regular meetings with the deity, I thought he would tell me who the man that appeared to me was. But he didn’t and by morning, I kept feeling the presence of the man who appeared to me and I kept being afraid until some ministers of God came to visit me, telling me Jesus, who had appeared to me, sent them.

It had taken the ministers 54 days of fasting before I gave my life to Christ, according to them.  I surrendered my arms and fighters and told my people I was no longer interested in war as I was interested in knowing Jesus.

This was in 1996 when I was age 25.


LEO (SEE): What was Life like after you got saved?

J.M.Blahyi : When I got back to Liberia from Nigeria after I got saved, my people were after me, the authority in my tribe was after me, Charles Taylor was after me. But it was easy for me to keep away from them as I wasn’t married with family. As soon as I got married and started raising a family, I had to move to Ghana. There I truly confessed Jesus as Lord.

Thereafter, inspired by God’s word in John 8:36, which says if the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed, I went back in 2007 to face the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), to allow them determine my fate.  In my testimony to the TRC, I admitted to being responsible for several thousands of murders and cannibalism.  I am glad I said the truth and shared how I got involved in the war where so many others denied their involvement. My conscience is clear today. And I believe the people forgave me because of the grace of God and because I spoke the truth.


LEO (SEE): What ministry has evolved out of your experience?

J.M.Blahyi: Since God gave me a second chance – I have changed my ways, and can now help guide other former ex-combatants to rebuild Liberia.

Now, I run an interdenominational ministry against violence , the End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries Inc., with headquarters in Liberia. I go into communities where there is violence.  Presently in Liberia, I work with bodies combating those rejected by their parents as a result of their involvement in war. As some of them have been on drugs as they fought the war, we try to get them off the street, train them and reconcile them with their families.


LEO (SEE): What would you say to those still given to violence as a way of seeking solutions in their country?.

J.M.Blahyi : Everyman is moved by a particular motivation but our motivations could be completely wrong. The bible says there is a way that seems right to a man but the end is death.  Fighting for equal distribution of resources is a good thing but violence is the wrong way to about it. Anyone going into violence cannot be trusted again except the grace of God is involved. I have been saved since 1996, but I still have problems with being trusted. The Government is yet to sponsor my laudable anti-violence projects as they are still afraid that if I am given money, I may recruit the same boys I am rehabilitating. I am yet to have a normal life as I am still confronted with people daily who I have to ask for forgiveness as I give them one reason or the other for my past violence.

I encourage you that you can however come out of that violence syndrome by developing yourself because most of the time violence comes from feelings of inferiority complex, when a person feels he isn’t competent and is unable to gain a thing

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