By the Observer
Some women in Lusaka have started enjoying their marriages to the full because their sweetheart husbands have suddenly become sweeter.
The men are spending more time at home with their families as they are spending less time at the club playing darts and pool in between sips from the brown bottle.
They no longer stay late in the night in bars watching English Premier League or the Spanish La Liga football matches on the big television screens and are also no longer depositing their vehicles in car parks late in the night.
The women owe this sudden behavioural change in their hubbies to the wave of terror sweeping Lusaka.
For, ever since the first corpse was picked up by the police in Lusaka in March this year without the heart and other equally vital body parts, most households have stabilized.
So, why should one risk of losing the sweetheart title by reporting home late in the night and without the heart imbedded in the chest?
Ironically, these hubbies are not admitting that the wave of terror in the capital has anything to do with their sudden behavioural change towards marriage commitments.
Instead, they claim that this is a mere coincidence and that they are implementing the long pending New Year resolution of strengthening their marriage bonds.
“It’s a mere co-incidence Kapenya,” one man said. “My going home early has definitely nothing to do with the ritual killings. I planned to do this early this year.”
Now, wait a minute, how come that many men could have a similar resolution, implement it at the same time, mid-way through the year and at the time ritual killers are on the loose? Who is fooling who here?
Come out clean guys and stop behaving like lice which still wants to hide on the forefinger nail and admit that you are scared of these satanic criminals.
However, I find modern Zambian men, including myself of course, to be cowards of the worst kind when it comes to dealing with such situations.
Faced with a similar threat in a village, able bodied guys in olden days would have ganged up and pursued the villain with axes, spears, bow and arrows, knobkerries and even dogs until the enemies were tracked down.
But in sharp contrast, modern men are too afraid to carry out such a task and relying on the state police to do the job for them.
All they do is to dash home early, dive into their beds and cover themselves whole from head to toe in total fright.
In case you are not aware, this is not the first time that Zambians have been terrorized by barbaric killers.
In the 1970s, there was a criminal nicknamed the ‘strangler’ who used to lure young women arriving from other districts and disembarking from Inter-City Bus Terminals in Lusaka.
He carried out about 20 grisly girls by strangling them by the neck.
The police eventually captured him after a protracted manhunt and he plunged to his death one day after jumping from the rooftop of Lusaka Central Police station to the ground with his hands still in handcuffs.
Then serial killer Gilbet Benson Chilala who preyed on farmers who lived solitary lives on their farms in the eastern flank of Lusaka came on the scene in the 1996 – 1997 period.
He too killed many people including former deputy speaker of the national assembly, Mr Leonard Kombe and his wife, Elizabeth.
He found the couple working in their field and senselessly hacked them to death one after the other.
Chilala was found guilty and sentenced to death but he is said to be serving life imprisonment after his capital punishment was commuted.
And who can forget the Maloni brothers of Mika, Stephen and Fabian?
The siblings brutally murdered 12 people in the Luano valley of central province between 2007
and 2013 when a crack squad of soldiers gunned them down deep in the forest.
Zambia Flying Doctor Service chief pilot, major Modesto Masumba was among the victims slain by the Maloni brothers.
However, in all these three episodes, ritual killings were not as pronounced as it is in the latest murders in which some corpses have been found without some body parts.
Defined as the act of killing one or more human beings, usually as an offering to a goddess, ritual murders take different forms.
For instance, there are killings for religious rites.
Those still with fresh memories may recall how a sect leader in then Northern Province now Muchinga is said to have been commandeering members to climb tall trees and forcing them to jump as a way of testing their faith.
Those who dropped down were said to be less Christians but how many ascended to heaven? It goes without saying that some people could have lost their lives in the process.
At global level, American Pastor James Warren Jones of the Peoples Temple, led his followers into drinking a grape-flavoured juice laced with cyanide poison in November 1978 in Jones Town in Guyana.
A total of 918 worshipers including 304 children perished in the incident which shocked the world due to its high number of deaths in one avoidable incident.
In a video the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) found about the incident, contains Pastor Jones’ voice saying “we didn’t commit suicide, we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhuman world.”
Then there is the royal ritual murder. This is the act of killing one or more human beings, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual.
Victims be killed in a manner that would please or appease god’s spirits or the deceased.
For example, a king’s servants would be killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life.
This brings to my memory a story told by my late grandmother who narrated how her parents once took her for a long night walk to a distant village with fellow siblings to avoid being turned into pillows for the village chief who had died.
As they say that the chief does not sleep alone, the police would do well to keep an eye on a village mourning the death of a traditional ruler as such satanic practice could still be happening.
Closely related practices found in some tribal societies are cannibalism – the practice of a human being eating the flesh of another man.
The killing of another in order to remove some body parts for use in preparing concoctions meant to boost businesses or win an election is another form of ritual killing. And these seem to fit in the recent slaying of people.
But then, how can you avoid running into ritual killers?
A principle found in the Bible (Proverbs 22:3) saying ” The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble” should be heeded studiously.
This does not imply that those who have been killed were fools. To the contrary, this Bible line here stresses the taking of personal safety measures which may include avoiding walking in deserted dark places at night.
And, when you notice that you are being followed by people who are neither your relatives nor your friends especially at night, run and scream for help. It might just save your life.
But, use this method with extreme caution because you might alarm the public who could easily pounce on the innocent strangers, lynch and burn them with tyres around their neck.
However, one positive scenario has come out of this wave of terror and this is that the ritual assassins have turned out to be marriage counselors commonly known as ‘Alangizi’ for men.