In Kenya there are not only vampires but also witches and spirits – The story of the 20 year old lynched in Kenya for killing around ten children over the past five years and drinking their blood has again brought to the center of public debate the controversy over the survival of superstitions of various types on the African continent.

The last time there was talk of vampirism in Africa was in 2017, when in Malawi, a small country nestled between Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, five people caught “while they were intent on drinking human blood” they were killed by a group of villagers in the district of Mulanje and Phalombe.

On that occasion, several UN officials were withdrawn from the country. In Malawi, in fact, the beliefs about the existence of vampires have never been abandoned and a part of the population has come to accuse the government of colluding with international aid agencies for an alleged collection of human blood through vampirism.

But it is throughout the western part of Africa that superstitions have a hard time dying. In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nodki are famous, children forced to live on the street and earn a living as best they can because they are considered infant sorcerers and therefore marginalized by society.

In addition to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nodki are found in Benin, Angola and Nigeria more than in other areas. The existence of the so-called “awakening churches” is also linked to this popular belief, sects that propose to families to “free from the devil” children considered sorcerers by practicing different forms of exorcism.

Among the many widespread practices, there is that of forcing children to swallow various objects, potions, live fish so that vomit and get rid of the “evil spirit”.

Then there is the tragic question of albinos: called “children of the devil”, or “children of the Moon” or, again, “zeru zeru” (ghost people “), they are regularly victims of kidnappings, torture, murders.

A real persecution taking place in at least 23 countries of the continent. In Malawi alone, where there are between 7,000 and 10,000, the UN reported 150 cases of murders, attacks and other human rights violations against them between 2014 and 2019.

Their skin is put on the market as a material for the making amulets against the evil eye. According to beliefs, raping an albino woman would cure HIV and drinking the blood of an albino would be beneficial. The body of a “child of the Moon” is worth around 75,000 euros on the African black market.

The theme of their persecution is also dear to the Catholic Church: in 2014 Pope Francis joined an awareness campaign in defense of African albinos. In 2009, however, the former pontiff Benedict XVI, during a visit to Angola, invited the African Catholic Church to oppose the witchcraft and spiritualisms widespread on the continent.



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