Even the dead are not spared. Abuses are extended to corpses. Dead bodies are targeted and violated due to irrational beliefs in Malawi. This southern African country is notorious for abuses linked to superstitions and irrational beliefs.
As reported in February, people from Chiomba village in Dedza burnt the dead body of a 76-year old woman. Why did they burn the corpse? It was a preemptive measure- to prevent the dead woman from turning into a lion.
But can a dead person turn into an animal? No, not at all. But in Malawi they strongly believe so. In this case, people feared that the dead person could turn into a lion and then attack and kill people in the community. The deceased, Eniya Million, died after complaining of some pain.
Recounting how this bizarre but unfortunate incident happened, the police public relations officer in the area, Edward Kabango, said that some women convened the following morning and were holding a funeral ceremony. But suddenly some of them fled from the house of the deceased after noting that the head and legs had changed to that of a beast and the whole body had fur. The corpse resembled a lion. In reaction, the villagers panicked and took the dead body to the graveyard and burnt it. A photo was circulated on social media showing the corpse burning while some village members looked on. The report says that the family of the late woman has a history of ‘turning into a lion’. The deceased’s brother who died in 2005 allegedly turned into a lion and caused some havoc in the village. Those who attended the funeral must have gone to the event fearing the corpse would also turn into a lion.
Thus when they saw the dead body, they were waiting to see it turn into a lion. To ensure that the transformation did not materialize, the attendees et the corpse ablaze. This tragic incident took place in Dedza. According to local sources, in this region, illiteracy and superstition are pervasive in this region. Occult fears and anxieties are pervasive. Witch persecution is rampant.
It is pertinent to educate and enlighten the people in Dedza and in other communities across Malawi to understand that corpses do not turn into lions and other animals. That lions do not turn into human beings. Such suppositions are mythical and superstitious nonsense. They have no basis in science, reason, and reality.