What does "hacked to death" mean?

Just read this. Out of curiosity, does it mean death via sword? Knife? Axe? Something else? Do they just go around and randomly hack people, or is done more systematically?

I don’t know for sure, but it probably involved the traditional Masai short-sword called a "Seme." My brother just got back from a Peace Corps stint in Kenya and he brought me back one. He said that nearly all men in Kenya, at least in the areas he was in, carried these as protection against both animals and humans.

In the context of the article, I would imagine it meant being killed with a sword or axe or other bladed instrument. More than likely a sword.

My guess would be a machete.

Almost certainly it was with what is commonly called a machete. As BD indicates they probably have a different name locally but that sort of tool is ubiquitous throughout much of Africa (and tropical areas throughout the world). They’ve been used extensively for this purpose in the past, notably in the Rwandan genocide. As for what “hacked to death” means, I don’t really understand what you’re failing to grasp. Imagine this video, except the guy is Haitian and the tree is a human being.

I would have said panga, which is the east African variant of the classic machete. Whereas one might stab a victim with the point of a lightweight sword, a panga is better suited to swinging like an axe, and its momentum allows its sharp edge to penetrate the target like an axe blade. When running after a victim, it’s easier to swing a panga like this than it is to try to stab at said victim; stabbing requires some precision of motion to get the point to connect with your target, whereas a big roundhouse or overhead swing with an 18-inch blade has a high probability of connecting with the target.

I would describe that kind of swinging motion as hacking. This is distinct from the aforementioned stabbing, and distinct from the sawing action required to amputate extremities. One hack, and your target is disabled; a few more, and he’s dead (or will be soon).

“Hacked to death” means panga to me, but that’s experiential. It could as easily be an axe or a farm tool - if someone was killed with a sickle, I could see them being describes as “hacked to death”…well, after the inevitable “reaped to death” was out of the system.

It means you’re having a really shitty day.

It has something to do with the Norman Bates School of Hotel Management.