Fear from Malawi “vampire” killings causes U.N. to pull staff

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/11/fear-from-malawi-vampire.html

1 Like

Are you behind this?


Amazingly enough - no, not this time.


There’s one place @Melizmatic better take off her travel list…


ritualistic human blood drinking

Shit, that’s any given Happy Hour for me.


“Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa…”

Not one of the spots on my bucket list, luckily.

Besides, being a metaphorical vampire is a lot less messy, methinks.


The image and the comments are off the mark. Rumors of “vampirism” in East and Central Africa go back at least 100 years. Typically the idea is of African henchmen in the employ of a foreigner collect the blood of unsuspecting victims. Historically, these rumors were associated with various people–game keepers, firemen, prostitutes, and medical researchers. If you are interested, there is a book length study on the these rumors and their various interpretations.


I was wondering what the local “vampires” would be.

1 Like

Oh, what’s the news there? It’s done daily around the globe: “This is my blood…



Does anyone know if this is a case of Our Vampires Are Different; or does nighttime hunting seem like a profoundly lousy choice if you believe that you are actually up against supernatural creatures of darkness; but a rather pragmatic one if you are looking to do a little mob justice under cover of darkness?

At least with ‘conventional’(ie. probably WEIRD) vampires, nighttime hunts are Not Even Slightly for noobs. That’s when the adversary enjoys maximum freedom of movement; greatest use of their assorted powers; and you suffer from reduced visibility, impaired coordination, etc. Much more sensible to stay put at night; and conduct raids against the leeches and Code 5s during the day, when the advantage has moved in your direction(to the degree it ever does when dealing with vampires).


In fairness, if you are looking for eternal life; becoming a vampire sired by the mortal aspect of a god seems like a pretty solid strategy(plus, resistance to holy symbols! “Vampire corners cowering peasant. Peasant desperately attempts warding with crucifix. Vampire: ‘This is for you dad!’ OMNOMNOMNOM”).

If it weren’t for the fact that Catholicism is an extant religion, rather than ‘mythology’, I can only imagine that this would have been absorbed into fairly core vampire canon by now(both because it is a solid entry in its own right; and because it has some good interaction potential with the ‘vampires = or associated with marked of Cain/Kain’ stuff, which is already a fairly popular item.

1 Like

Victorians were confused about the difference between “vampire attack” and “lesbian boob grab attack”


In fairness, the canon is just loaded with vampires whose feeding behaviors seem tailor made to muddy(or even elide) the distinction between frenzied sanguinary feeding and sexy creature of the night sex.

Goes at least as far back as Dracula’s “Jonathan Harker! Sinister swarthy Translyvanians are stealing your white woman! Man up, grab that Kurkri, and penetrate that bloodsucker back into his place!”, quite possibly a lot further back; continues to the present day with variants all over the spectrum from “Vampires: supernaturally effective rape monsters” to, well, Twilight.


I think the problem is the use of the word “vampire.” Historically these rumors called the vampires by various names: mumiani in Tanzania and Kenya a word cognate with “mummy” and which can also denote a kind of medicine (which may or may not be made with the blood of victims), bazimamoto literally, the fire extinguishers (people who extinguish fires) in Uganda, wachinja-chinja, the slaughterers, and banyama in Zambia a term used to refer to refer to Africans working in the colonial game department and were also often tse-tse fly-catchers for medical research.




We haven’t been doing phrasing for like at least 3 season.

1 Like

Thanks for bringing the study to my attention. (Hell, another one for my taunting list? I hope not.) I assumed this to be much older than just “colonial”.

I’ve got colleagues working in Malawi. It’s a really interesting and great place, and one of the places where our early ancestors dwelt. Some of the oldest Homo fossils have been found there.

They just need to refresh their PR. Incorporate, move to the Bay Area & find a new brand name - apples of Idun, peaches of mortality…ambrosia.

1 Like

The UN should never have messed with Abraham Lincoln.

How old these rumor are is not really a settled matter. White argues they are old, mutations from older witchcraft ideas. Not an unreasonable position. I tend to see them as more recent. The oldest name, mumiani is related to ideas of mummy medicine. It can refer to a) a real medicine, b) a medicine supposedly made from the blood of victims, c) people associated with the capture and exsanguination of people in order to create b). Mummy medicine goes back in Europe until at last the Early Modern period. Paracelsus was big into it. There are records of powdered mummy in German apothecaries as later as the 1910s.

There are Swahili language letters from the 1920s that suggest it is a foreign idea and perhaps relatively recent arrival. There is some evidence that the term comes to East Africa in the wake of the outbreak of bubonic plague in the 1890s. There are also records of riots in India about “momai” a substance much like mumiani, although made with “oils” pressed from the bodies of victims rather than blood.

The other names are all distinctly colonial as is the imagery–firemen, game wardens, and so on.

Personally I would argue that it likely emerges as a rumor in the late 19th, early 20th C in East Africa. A rumor, perhaps like black helicopters, of suspicion about globalization.