General Butt Naked

A notorious Liberian warlord turned evangelist, known for his brutal past and dramatic conversion to Christianity.

Joshua Milton Blahyi, known by his fearsome nom de guerre General Butt Naked, is a figure whose life story reads like a dramatic pivot from darkness into light. Born on September 30, 1971, in Monrovia, Liberia, Blahyi’s early life was steeped in the traditional beliefs of his ethnic Krahn community, which included belief in black magic and ritual child sacrifice. By the age of seven, he was initiated by Krahn elders to be a warrior priest, a role that demanded human sacrifices​. However, in 1996, during the tail end of Liberia’s brutal civil war, he claimed to have had a vision of God, prompting him to abandon his violent past and become a preacher​​.

Before his conversion, his involvement in the Liberian civil wars, specifically as a leader within the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy, marked him as one of the conflict’s most fearsome warlords. Blahyi earned his infamous nickname for his practice of fighting naked, believing it provided protection from bullets, and led a band of child soldiers, indoctrinating them into a life of violence and drug use, while also engaging in acts of cannibalism, claiming to consume the hearts of children to gain power. Blahyi himself estimates he and his militia were responsible for the deaths of at least 20,000 people during the conflict​​​​.

In 1996, Blahyi claims to have had a vision of God, leading him to renounce his violent past and become a preacher. Following the war and the ousting of Charles Taylor in 2003, Blahyi sought forgiveness for his actions, leveraging his charismatic personality, once used to inspire fear, to spread a message of peace and redemption as a street pastor. He has since worked towards rehabilitating former child soldiers and drug addicts, offering them training in farming and construction through his organization, Journeys Against Violence.

His transformation was controversial and met with skepticism. Many in Liberia, especially the families of his victims, remain skeptical of his transformation, questioning the sincerity of his motives and struggling to reconcile his past atrocities with his current persona​. Despite being granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008, his past deeds remain a significant barrier to his acceptance within Liberian society​​.

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