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August 11 & 14: from Monrovia, Liberia - Voss, Norway - Ghana - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania - Urumqi, China

High-school students tuck into a meal of smalahove in Norway (photo/Nachammai Raman).

The Redemption of General Butt Naked, a feared militia leader who admits killing thousands during the Liberian civil war yet the state lets him walk free. 

The sound of Uyghur music: A minority in China listens to its past, for clues to its future. 

Meet the Indiana Jones of lost languages. who scours the planet to save endangered tongues. 

And, fancy another helping of sheep cheeks and watery eyes? Norwegians are lining up for an acquired taste.

General Butt Naked

Joshua Blahyi, the former General Butt Naked, now a preacher in Monrovia. Photo/Ryan Lobo.

 A mass murderer speaks

The voice of a self-confessed mass murderer Joshua Blahyi.

During the Liberian civil war of the '90s, Blahyi's ruthless band of child soldiers was among the most feared militias in the country.

Back then he called himself General Butt Naked, which would be funny if he hadn't been such a butcher.

He admits responsibility for thousands of civilian casualties, yet Liberia won't prosecute him.

These days he's an evangelical preacher in the capitol city of Monrovia, where he goes around apologizing to his victims and asking forgiveness.

Truly contrite? Or a terrible con?

It's one of the questions raised by an award-winning documentary entitled The Redemption Of General Butt Naked, which debuted at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

Daniele Anastasion is the film's co-director and producer, along with Eric Strauss.

 Daniele's conversation with Rick, from Washington

 Why Joshua Blahyi fights naked, from the movie.


All we like sheep

Ivar Loene's 5-year-old grandson Henrik's favourite food is smalahove, as he tells visiting students (photo/Nachammai Raman).

From time to time, usually around Burns Night in January, the sons of Scotland endure flagrant abuse from those untutored in the ways of the haggis.

When confronted with a sheep's stomach stuffed with innards, there really is no middle ground, oddly enough. It's either reverence or revulsion.

So those of you of Scots descent can sympathise with folks in Norway, as they discover for the first time an old-time sheep dish of their own.

We're off to west Norway on a voyage of culinary discovery with Nacha Raman.

 Hear Nacha's documentary now

Read a listener's response to that story, about his own encounters with exotic food. 

From the divine to the ridiculous

Now this week our soundtrack of music from moments in faraway places comes from Canadian journalist Karen Palmer, who'll be on the program next week talking about her new book on the witches of Ghana. 

This week, she describes a visit she and her translator made to a diviner, a kind of fortune-teller, with tunes....

 Hear Karen's memory now

More musical memories on The View from Here.

Nedmit is a speaker of the endangered Monchak language in Mongolia. He's showing linguist David Harrison how to hobble a horse. Photo/Kelly J. Richardson

Trying to save dying tongues

A days at work for Canadian David Harrison can sound...

like this...

And as you can tell, he's not exactly tethered to his desk at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he's Professor of Linguistics.

This Harrison's been called "the Indiana Jones of linguistics," roaming the world in search of dying languages, reviving them if he can, and documenting their secrets along the way.

It's all in his recent book, called The Last Speakers: the Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages.

David Harrison joined Rick from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania earlier in our season to explain how he does that.

Listen to David now

Traditional Uyghur musician Mahmut (centre) performs on the dutar in a bar in Urumqi, China. Photo/Ursula Engel

Uyghur musicians look outside their borders

In China's northwest, there's a culture struggle underway.

Not only is the Chinese majority threatening to overwhelm Uyghur Muslims.

But, the Uyghurs themselves are torn between what they were, and what they're to become.

And that struggle is playing out in their music, which has its back to China and its face to the west.

For most, playing music is the only time young Uyghurs can transcend the closely-guarded borders of China.

In this next piece, Sameer Farooq examines their pop and their politics, and the experience begins behind the wheel in a Chinese city of Uyghurs.

  Listen to Sameer's documentary now

Sameer is a documentary filmmaker by trade. His crew of Ursula Engel and Stijn Deklerck worked with him on that piece, and their production company, Smoke Signal Projects, is also producing an upcoming documentary film about Uyghur musicians.

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, Steve McNally,  technical producer Victor Johnston, senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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