As told to the New York Globe-Telegraph:
According to Kibwana, the son to the Mtundu chief, Kijanji, the legend goes that, sixty to seventy years ago, the Mtundu tribe of the Congo were a band of thieves and vagabonds. They were so disliked by their neighbors that they were forced off their land by the Kokoko tribe. As the Mtundu migrated, they learned of a wealthy tribe with a powerful idol. Kijanji's grandfather (Kibwana's great-grandfather) got an idea and, during the night, snuck into the village and stole the idol. The fortune of the Mtundu changed afterwards, and the grandfather demanded tributes from other tribes. He then learned how the magic of the idol worked and planned to get revenge on the Kokoko tribe.
He proceeded to pound nails into the idol's head and chanted an incantation, causing the idol to come to life and disappear into the night, scaring the Mtundu. The next morning, the tribe awakened to find the idol had returned, blood dripping from its weapons. A few weeks later, they learned the Kokoko tribe and their village had indeed been destroyed.
Feeling guilty for what they had done, the grandfather tried to get rid of the idol by throwing it into a river. Before he could, though, the idol came alive again and zapped him with green energy, causing him to disappear. He returned a week later, claiming to have been sent to a jungle, in a permanent night, full of leeches and snakes, where he was forced to face death again and again. The idol was teaching him a lesson.
Years later in 1899, Harrison Hightower III and his men came down the river, pursuing tales of the idol Hightower had heard in his younger days as part of the Pillager's Brigade. He offered to buy the idol from the tribe, though they refused his offer. Hightower chose to take it by force, but with minimal resistance, as if the Mtundu wanted it taken off of their hands. Hightower mounted the idol onto the tip of his canoe, showered with gifts from fearful tribes further down the river as the expedition continued.
Hightower planned to put Shiriki Utundu in his penthouse as a centerpiece for his collection. During the grand celebration of his return on New Year's Eve 1899 however, Hightower would anger the idol with his casual disrespect for its power by using it to put out a cigar. His elevator ride up to his penthouse would be his last, disappearing in a chaotic elevator crash at the stroke of midnight accompanied by eerie green lightning disturbances. Hotel Hightower was abandoned and the Idol has haunted the building ever since.
Those who possess the idol must follow a number of rules.
- Always treat it with respect.
- Do not have it close to fire.
- It must not be wrapped up, buried or confined in a small building.
- It must never be thrown or given away.
- Beware its eyes.
Appearances and allusions
Shiriki Utundu first appears in Hightower's Office during the pre-show, disappearing with a Cheshire Cat grin after the spirit of Hightower begins telling the story of the curse and transforming the stained glass windows.
When the elevator travels into the upper reaches of the hotel and Hightower's Penthouse, Shiriki torments the spirit of Hightower before turning his attention on the elevator, appearing in a hallway mirror to zapp the elevator to perform the drop sequences. After the guests survive his chaos, his glowing green eyes can be seen in the darkness before unload.
Level 13: Shadow of Shiriki
Shriki Utundu was the star of the special overlay of Tower of Terror called "Level 13: Shadow of Shiriki". He made extra appearances in the attraction, seen as a shadow in the elevator shaft cutting the wires, seen in a new 'void' room before he flies at guests, and seen at the end of the pre-show, flying across the stained glass picture.
Shiriki Utundu appears in Hightower's arms in the S.E.A. group portrait, painted on the night of the accident.