The Zande Warriors were masters of psychological warfare. They sharpened their teeth and rushed into battle shouting “Nyam Nyam.” Outsiders called the Zande Warriors Niam-Niam, which means great eaters. The Azande played up this myth and would sometimes carve up the dead and make them appear is if they had been half eaten. The Azande took no prisoners and many of their neighbors believed they were cannibals. It's hard to stand against a warrior that you truly believe is going to eat you if he gets the chance. The term Niam-Niam today is an expression of disapproval and criticism and is no longer embraced by the modern Azande peoples.
Another terrifying act the Zande Warriors practiced was beheading. They were not the only tribes in these regions of Africa that practiced a particular ritual of beheading. The victim would be tied on his knees with his arms pulled behind his back to stretch his chest. Then a branch or pole would be pulled down over their head and rope would be tied around his skull to stretch his neck and keep his head pulled back.
Once the person was positioned, the Zande would use his Makraka and chop through the neck. The pull of the taught branch and the weight of the victim created a slingshot effect once the blade cut through. The branch or pole being pulled not only flings the head, it assists the blade in slicing through as it separates the flesh instead of allowing the head to fall forward and squeeze the blade. The head would literally fly off into the jungle. Finding a pile of headless bodies or a pile of heads would unnerve most sane people. I'm not sure I should even mention that such a quick removal of the head would not cause the body to die instantly either. It would still struggle instinctively to escape before the blood stops flowing through its heart.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.