Whether you’re naturally bald, shave your head or are the former pretending to be the latter, you all have one thing in common – you’re warned not to visit Mozambique.
Home to a tropical climate and extensive coastline filled with a number of beaches, the country in East Africa welcomes tourists for honeymoons, luxury holidays and adventures.
Its description might sound more appealing than a drizzly weekend on your local boardwalk, but police in the country were forced to issue a warning for some tourists following a number of violent incidents in 2017.
Five men were killed in the country in the central district of Milange, with three killed within the space of one week in what police suggested could have been ritual attacks.
Police warned bald men may be targeted as Afonso Dias, a police commander in Mozambique’s central Zambezia province, explained at the time that there is a bizarre belief regarding what’s concealed beneath the shiny dome of a bald man’s head.
He explained: “The belief is that the head of a bald man contains gold.”
According to the BBC’s Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, police believed the idea of riches being concealed inside the skull stemmed from a ruse created by witchdoctors who were trying to get clients to take a person’s head to them.
“Their motive comes from superstition and culture – the local community thinks bald individuals are rich,” Commander Dias told a press conference in Maputo.
Police arrested two suspects following the 2017 killings, two young Mozambicans aged around 20.
A regional security spokesperson named Miguel Caetano told AFP following the crimes that one of the victims who lost his life had his head cut off and his organs removed. The suspects had reportedly explained that the organs were set to be used in rituals to advance the wealth of clients in Tanzania and Malawi.
It’s unclear whether there have been any further attacks against bald people following the initial killings, but the UK government is still currently warning all tourists against travel to the districts of Mueda, Nangade, Palma, Mocimboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Meluco, Macomia, Quissanga and Ibo in Cabo Delgado province, including the islands off the coast, as a result of attacks by groups with links to Islamist extremism.
The government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has further stressed that terrorists are ‘very likely’ to try to carry out attacks in Mozambique.