To the villagers who gathered at a funeral in Shikokhwe village in Kakamega County, seeing the chicken that killed a toddler was all that mattered, before they put it to death.
The hen allegedly killed a six-month-old baby on Christamas Day while he was playing outside their house.
Every mourner who walked into the funeral mass would first ask, “Where is the hen?” before taking a seat to catch up with the service.
At that time, the hen was roaming the compound alongside its chicks unmoved by the onlookers training an eye on its every move.
As the funeral mass proceeded, the speakers were in agreement the hen and her chicks had to be killed to cleanse the land of 'murder', as they feared the chicks would grow into a 'murderous brood'.
Immediately after burying the baby’s body, young men were asked to catch the hen and her eight chicks, and then surrender the chicken to an elder who stood beside the grave.
The elder who refused to speak “because he was on a sacred cleansing duty,” picked up a knife and cut the neck of the hen in lightening speed after mumbling for some seconds.
He then threw the hen onto the fresh grave. It ran up and down the site before finally laying down dead. The curse of death had gone, the villagers believed.
“Anyone or anything that kills must be killed,” said Barasa Lucheveloli, another elder.
“If it were a tree that had fallen on someone and killed them, then we would have cut it down and burnt it to ashes.”
The hen was later roasted and exclusively served to select elders with a plate of ugali.
“Women and children cannot partake of such a sacred meal. We do it to banish evil spirits that may come back to haunt the family,” said Lucheveloli.
As for the chicks, they were strangled one after the other and thrown in an undisclosed area.
Many at the funeral said they had not witnessed such an incident in their entire lifetime, while others vowed not to keep the birds in their homes until their young children grow into adults.
The broody hen is said to have pounced on the child in defence of her chick that the baby had mistaken for a toy, before his mother responded.
“My baby was traumatised and cried for a while and then became unconscious,” said Robai Toboko, the baby’s mother
“One of the wings of the hen brushed the baby’s face, prompting him to cry out loudly. I didn’t imagine he would die a few minutes later.”
Haggai Bushuru, the child’s father, told Crazy Monday that on that fateful day, his baby was in high spirits in the morning.
“I left the child and his mother at home to go to church because the mother was not feeling well," he said.
“At about 1pm my wife called saying the infant was fainting, so I rushed home.”
At home, Bushuru found the baby lying unconscious and opted to take him to church for prayers before going to hospital.
“I don’t know whether my baby died along the way or while at the church. I was shocked. It was strange to lose a child in such a manner,” said Bushuru.