In Malawi Angry Crowds Attack People

for Conspiring with Vampires to Steal Blood


(From reports byReuters Jan. 10, 2003, and New York Times, Dec. 29, 2002 and other sources.)

Malawi: Vampire hunt continues... Hundreds of angry Malawians hounded a senior political figure from his house and stoned him, accusing him of harboring vampires. The official, Governor Eric Chiwaya of Blantyre, who was hospitalized with serious cuts, was the latest victim of a bizarre rumor that the government is conspiring with vampires to collect human blood for international aid agencies. The rumors have caused vigilante attacks in which one man was stoned to death and three priests were attacked by angry villagers. A foreign aid encampment identified as vampire headquarters was destroyed.

Some see the anti-government hysteria as a fitting symptom for diseased times. Malawi, landlocked in southern Africa, faces widespread starvation and a severe AIDS epidemic. There is turmoil over efforts by the country's first democratically elected president, Bakili Muluzi, to override a two term limit and remain in office after 2004.

For his part, Buluzi dismissed rumors of vampirism with the comment, "No government can go about sucking the blood of its own people." His words did not ring true in a world where blood-sucking governments have long been the order of the day, and the remark may have only strengthened the credibility of the vampire rumor.

Retaliation against vampire-friendly individuals is a close cousin to witch killing, common in Africa and elsewhere in the third world, and practiced in colonial Massachusettes and by the Roman Catholic Inquisition.

Belief in vampires -- human type vampires -- exists in all parts of the world, and goes back to ancient cultures.