DEBORAH AMOS, host:

Here's a short morning quiz. Who was the 18th president of the United States and commander of Northern forces during the Civil War? Right if you said Ulysses S. Grant. But here's another question. What does he have to do with a little West African country of Guinea-Bissau?

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton went to find out.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: The headlines were dramatic: former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant found buried and headless and sliced into pieces. But this isn't about Grant the man. It's about Grant the metal statue with elegant, pewter-colored hands and a chopped-up chest.

(Soundbite of clanking metal)

I'm at the headquarters of the judicial police in Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau. And I'm in the detention center. Behind me I've got a whole lot of detainees looking on as the head of the judicial police Dr. Lucinda Barbosa Ahukharie, shows me the remains of one-time U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. I say remains because he's been cut up - or at least the metal bust of him has been cut up.

Dr. Ahukharie, what happened to Ulysses S. Grant?

Dr. LUCINDA BARBOSA AHUKHARIE (Guinea-Bissau Judicial Police): (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: Before the police chief replied, Lucinda Ahukharie first gave a quick history lesson.

Back in the 1800s, Ulysses S. Grant helped resolve a bitter dispute between Guinea-Bissau's then-colonial ruler, Portugal, and its rival Great Britain. In gratitude, the Portuguese erected a statue of the American president in the old capital, Bolama.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: Towards the end of August, the metal statue of the former American president mysteriously disappeared. After journalistic and police investigations, the Ulysses S. Grant statue - now headless - was traced to a scrap yard. Scrap metal is a valued commodity in Guinea-Bissau. Well, the metal merchant and the governor of Bolama Island were taken in for questioning.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: The head of the judicial police here in Guinea-Bissau, Dr. Ahukharie, says that Ulysses S. Grant ended up being buried twice - once in America and once in Guinea-Bissau - because his metal remains as opposed to his mortal remains were found buried about 40 kilometers from Bolama.

But, Dr. Ahukharie, Ulysses Grant has been cut up into bits.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: The criminal police chief said the metal Ulysses S. Grant had been chopped up into about a dozen large pieces. But his head was still missing. Lucinda Ahukharie was rather sad about the whole sorry episode. She said the legacy of the one-time American president was tied up with Guinea-Bissau's and her own history and heritage.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: (Foreign language spoken) You say Ulysses S. Grant is part of your family, Dr. Ahukharie?

Dr. AHUKHARIE: Yeah.

QUIST-ARCTON: Because you come from Bolama, where he was sitting.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: Now that they've retrieved most of the metal parts of Ulysses S. Grant, he's safe in custody with the criminal investigation police here in Bissau. But the boss says they have some leads and hope to find his head, so that they can put their old American friend back together again.

Dr. Lucinda Ahukharie, thank you for telling us the sad story of Ulysses S. Grant here in Guinea-Bissau.

Dr. AHUKHARIE: Ofeibea, thank you. You're a journalist (foreign language spoken)

QUIST-ARCTON: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton for NPR News in Guinea-Bissau.

AMOS: You can see what's left of the Ulysses S. Grant statue at npr.org.

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