39. The Bonkers Back Story of a Villain: Witchcraft, Human Sacrifice, and Cannibalism
Francisco Macias Nguema was born into a poor peasant family in the then-Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, the son of a witch doctor from neighboring Gabon. Nguema’s father had fled his native land after his dark practices – and they were plenty dark, including as they did human sacrifice and cannibalism – made him unpopular. He was dedicated to his craft, however – so dedicated that he sacrificed one of his own children, a brother of Nguema, an event that left the future tyrant scarred for life.
Nguema’s witch doctor dad gathered a cult following in Equatorial Guinea. However, he got into a dispute with the Spanish colonial authorities when they demanded that Africans toil on Spanish-owned plantations for slave wages. A request for higher pay got him beaten to death, and his wife, bereft at the loss, committed suicide a week later, leaving an orphaned Nguema and his 10 siblings to fend for themselves.