Hyena Men and the Sacrifice of Infants: traditional beliefs and the call of Christ’s disciples

Updated: Jul 23, 2021



In 2013, the Executive Director of MERCY PARTNERS, Tom Kilian, met with the Republic of Ethiopia's Human Rights Commission's Chief Commissioner and Ambassador, Teruneh Zenna, in Gambella, Ethiopia (pictured above). The discussion topic centered on the need for people of traditional belief to embrace the Creator's love, an act that requires us to view each life as sacred as immorality runs deep.


There is a Malawi tradition for village elders of communities to hire a male sex worker, traditionally known as a "hyena." The "hyena" then forces girls who have reached puberty to have sex. Village elders do not see the act as rape but as a form of ritual sexual "cleansing." Although this news has shaken many, we are not so surprised.


Furthermore, in the particular region where they met, tribal decisions to kill children in the Omo River Valley is straightforward. The sacrifice of one infant for the good of the entire tribe is a rite that some elders witness hundreds of times throughout their lives. There is no other reality for them.


Ambassador Teruneh shared, "Bad health of a baby is to determine if the top teeth come in before his bottom teeth, the baby boy is cursed and will need to be killed according to traditional belief."


When Tom asked what Mercy Partners could do to provide help to the Human Rights Commission, the Ambassador's reply was simple.

"Non Governmental Organizations and Missionaries are positioned in the city centers and urban areas, but not many are found elsewhere."