A hen's furious guard over her brood caused the death of an infant on Christmas day in Shikokhwe Village in Malava leaving a distraught mother in tears.
Haggai Bushuru, a six-month-old baby was buried as irate villagers decapitated the killer hen which is said to have pounced on him after his mother attempted to chase it away.
The hen that was jealously guarding its one-week-old chicks jumped in self-defence at the provocation of Bushuru's mother.
“The hen jumped up nosily with one of its wings brushing my baby on the face. He was traumatized and started crying loudly until he fell unconscious,” said Robai Toboko, the tearful mother of the deceased.
According to Ms Toboko, the toddler detested any attempt to scare him.
“My baby would panic at slight provocation. I was not surprised when he reacted in a similar way to the hen. However, I never imagined I would lose him. Things happened rather fast,” said the mother of four.
Hundreds of mourners converged to bury Bushuru but also catch a glimpse of his killer.
“I am at a loss of words. Our frantic efforts to resuscitate my little angel were fruitless. Neighbours joined me and tried to help but it was too little too late,” said Ms Toboko.
Toboko Bushuru, the father of the deceased baby said he woke up together with his family in high spirits. Bushuru excused himself to rush to the church for Christmas preparations.
“I returned home to collect my mobile phone that had been recharging. My wife told me she was feeling tired and would not go to church.”
Toboko left firm instructions that the baby should stay with his mother at home. He would receive a call from his wife at around 1.00pm informing him about the state of the baby.
“I found the baby lying unconscious and we had to rush him to hospital but first we decided to pass by the church for prayers.”
It is while at the church that it was discovered baby Haggai had stopped breathing.
“I don’t know whether he died along the way or while at the church, I was shocked, it was strange to lose a child in such a manner.”
Mourners hunted down the hen and her chicks immediately the baby was buried. They used a knife to behead the hen and left it to jump around the grave.
“It is a tradition. If it was a tree that fell on the deceased, we would cut it down and burn it to ashes. Now that it is a hen, we have to decapitate it and roast the meat for elders to eat,” said the elders.
Women and children are forbidden from tasting the meat. “We do so to banish evil spirits that may come back to haunt the family,” argued the elders.
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