BASUTOLAND: Horn of Trouble

Basutoland is a tiny (11,716 sq. mi.) British crown colony, entirely surrounded by the Union of South Africa. In theory, Basutoland is two-thirds Christian, but the real source of ultimate power, in the minds of most Basuto, is a gory brew called the diretlo. It is boiled up from human flesh, blood, fat, and herbs pounded into paste. To be really potent, the flesh must be stripped from a still living human body, which explains why 140 people have died since 1945—and 51 were accused of killings last year—to provide raw materials for diretlo.

The wise chief keeps a supply stuffed...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!