Legendary Creatures in Africa
Information and Theories 4/23/10
By: Yona Williams
From vicious birds to lost spirits, Africa has a wide range of interesting mythological creatures and characters in their cultural myths. In this article, you will learn of a few, including one that has the characteristics of a vampire.
Some people living in Central Africa tell the tale of obambos Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a certain type of ghost that lives in the bush. It is said that eventually, the obambo wishes to have a house of their own and will appear to a close relative to make this request. During the night, the women of the village will gather to sing and dance.
The following day, people visit the grave of the deceased and adorn its final resting place with an idol. Close to the home of the person that the obambo visited, the village will erect a small hut. Inside the bier on which the deceased was carried to his grave is placed inside, along with some of the dust from their grave. Over the door, a white cloth is draped.
Southern African tribes, such as the Zulu, Xhosa, and the Pondo, mention the impundulu in their folklore. This mythological creature, which is referred to as the 'lightning bird' is seen as a black and white bird Ã¢â‚¬â€œ about the same size as a human. With its wings and talons, it is supposed to hold the power to call thunder and lightning. In witchcraft circles, the bird is described as having the same qualities as a vampire.
Often times, tales show the bird as assisting a witch or witch doctor Ã¢â‚¬â€œ attacking their enemies with a vengeance. Keeping in the line with the vampire theme, the impundulu is thought to have a voracious appetite for blood. To attract victims, it may take the form of a lovely young man in an attempt to woo women.
In West African folklore, the obia (or obeah) is a monster that is often described as a massive animal that witches use to retrieve young girls from nearby villages. In the Bay Islands of Honduras, the people refer to witches as obeah and sometimes refer to the spell cast by the witch as an obia.
Possessing the head of a jack rabbit, human ears, front arms of a badger, back legs of a bear, and a skeleton-like body, the rompo is a mythological beast known to feed on the dead bodies of human. While it devours the flesh, it is said to croon softly. Tales of this beast are found throughout India and Africa.
Throughout North Africa and in parts of Asia Minor and Asia, the three-legged bird is a creature found in a variety of art pieces and mythology. In stories, the bird is often used to represent the sun and in some cases, is believed to live there. Egypt is known to present the bird in their myths and its image has appeared on wall murals. Ancient coins hailing from Lycia and Pamphylia have also shown the bird as a significant image.
In West African folklore, the zin are water spirits