African Vampire Witch

African Vampire Witch

Variations: Nthum, Owang, Saf In Deam, Sefaf In Dem

Generally speaking, African vampire mythology is not based on the wholly undead or animated corpses like that of so many other cultures (see UNDEATH). However, what it does have are vampiric creatures and witches with vampiric tendencies that practice forms of cannibalism and necrophilia, as well as committing acts of vampirism. The ability to become a witch is not always an inheritable trait and is not necessarily something that can be taught to someone who desires to learn.

There is no reliable test that can be performed to determine who may become a witch, although women who are naturally barren or are post-menopausal are most commonly suspect. But anyone has the potential to become a witch. A person suspected of being a witch will find herself blamed for any unfortunate event that happens in the community, more so if the mishap happens to involve a child.

If a witch is discovered, she may be lucky enough to be banished and driven out of her community. Since there are several tribes who blame all of their misfortunes on witches, there have been pocket societies that have developed that consist of nothing but people who were labeled as witches. These small communities are very close-knit and quick to take in new arrivals.

However, if the witch has been directly connected to a specific crime, she will literally become a scapegoat and be ritualistically slain. When the witch is killed, the evil she wrought will die as well.

Once discovered, the witch's tongue will be immediately cut out and pinned to her chin with a thorn so that she cannot speak and cast a spell on her captors. She is then beheaded, her body impaled upon a stake, and cremated. Her head is thrown away so that predatory and scavenging animals may consume it.

Even a deceased person can be accused of being a witch. The suspect's grave will first be examined, as the grave of a true witch will have a small tunnel dug into it so that at night she may leave in the guise of a small animal. If a hole is found, the grave will be exhumed and the body examined for signs of decay. If the body is not considered properly decomposed, it will be destroyed, rendering the witch's spirit impotent.

African witches have an array of talents and abilities, such as astral projection, causing ulcers, flight, removing organs, and necromancy (speaking to the spirits of the dead). They can also capture a spirit and use it to harm crops, livestock, and people.


  • Allman, Tongnaab, 120
  • Broster, Amagqirha, 60
  • Guiley, Complete Vampire Companion, 7
  • Hodgson, God of the Xhosa, 32, 35, 49
  • Laubscher, Pagan Soul, 1 28­31
  • White, Speaking with Vampires, 19n
  • Source:

    Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology Written by Theresa Bane ©2010 Theresa Bane. All rights reserved

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