Wednesday, 18 September 2013

5 Creatures From African Folklore With A Taste For Blood

Today we're delving into deepest Africa where legends and traditions are alive and well. Africa has some fantastic folklore, but today I want to talk about specifically about beliefs in bloodthirsty monsters. So turn on the light and watch the door - here are five creatures from African folklore you wouldn't want to cross on a dark night...

5. Sasanbosam
Image: Beth Stiner
Many cultures have their own unique take on the vampire myth but the Sasanbosam is one of the more bizarrely terrifying ones. A particular belief of the Ashanti of Ghana, West Africa, the Sasanbosam is described as a human with bat features, such as a whopping 20ft wingspan. If that weren't horrifying enough, the creature is also said to have an emaciated and horned body with hooked feet that allows is to ensnare passers-by as it sits in trees...waiting. Oh, and they have teeth made of iron - just in case you weren't already rethinking going outside ever again.

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4. Eloko
Image: Victor P Corvella
When you go down to the woods today then you'd be buggered if you came across an Eloko. These dwarf-like ancestral spirits are furious with the living, possessing piercing eyes and grass on their bodies rather than hair. According to lore, Biloko (Eloko's plural) live deep in the Zaïre rainforest guarding treasure - rare fruits and game. Oh, did I mention that their mouths open as wide as the human body, allowing then to eat you whole? Picture that, if you will and I guarantee you won't be walking through woods anytime soon. Unless you're an expert hunter with an amulet, then you're probably also going to fall under the Eloko's spell cast by little bells they possess.


3. Rompo

One thing folklore does really well is to mash a bunch of different animals together, sprinkle on some horror and produce some weird abomination. Meet Rompo, a creature said to have the head of a hare, ears of a human, rear legs of a bear, front arms of a badger and a skeleton body. While rompos tend not to attack the living, they will totally go to town on devouring human corpses like M&Ms. The rompo could also change the colour of its skin to match its surroundings or a predator.


2. Bultungin (Werehyena)

There are various incarnations of the belief in werehyenas throughout Africa, but one aspect that does tie them together is that they're utterly terrifying. Bultungin is Kanuri for "I change myself into a hyena" and apparently it was widely believed that there were whole villages populated by people who transformed into flesh-hungry beasts.

Ethopians believe that blacksmiths are actually wizards or witches with the ability to change into a hyena while the people of western Sudan believe that the creature would specifically target lovers, making it the prototype Jason from Friday 13th. They also believed that the werehyena would be a woodcutter, healer or blacksmith. The Korè cult of the Bambara people in Mali actually dress up as werehyenas, wearing masks and roleplaying, effectively 'becoming' the creature. This disturbing act is used to prevent people from wanting to pick up werehyena habits (like eating people, I guess) in daily life.


1. The Kishi

So you've just met a nice guy, you've been on a couple of dates, maybe held hands and you're ready to go back to his house for "coffee". You step into his cosy apartment and he puts some smooth jazz on because that's the kind of charmer he is. He tells you he's going to slip into something more comfortable and before you can question that line he turns around to reveal HIS FACE IS ALSO A HYENA'S FACE, OH MY GOD. Congratulations, you're dating a Kishi and you're about to be eaten.

Yes, Angola has this twisted bastard in their roster of demonic entities. The Kishi has two faces, one on the front which is an attractive man, and one on the back which is a horrific hyena monstrosity. It's like that scene in Harry Potter except it makes you want to crap yourself. The man face would charm the lovely lady and then the beast face would eat her face. Delicious.