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The Popobawa Demon

Updated on August 16, 2014
Popobawa | Source

Mass Panic

During the periods of time where it is believed that the Popobawa attacks the people of Zanzibar, Africa, hundreds of people, whole villages will sleep outside of their houses around campfires, in fear of being molested by this bat like incubus.

Popobawa translated from Swahili literally means "bat wing". The creature looks like a dwarf sized bat demon with one eye, it is also a shapeshifter and will take the form of a human during day.

First Appearance

Popobawa first struck in the Tanzanian Island of Pemba, 1972. The mass hysteria soon followed to Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. Up until July 2001, attacks have increased during major political attacks, however, that is no longer the case anymore.


Zanzibar, Africa:
Zanzibar, Tanzania

get directions

Where the Popobawa attacks.

Stone town, Zanzibar.
Stone town, Zanzibar. | Source


The Popobawa attacks anyone from men, women and children, however it particularly prefers men that do not believe in it's existence. Once victims have been assaulted, the creature orders them to tell everyone of the attack or it will come back and attack again.

Popobawa has been known to attack everyone in the household one by one before moving on to the next house. Before the attack victims claim to hear scraping noises on the roof, along with a pungent odour, and some even see puffs of smoke.

Once Popobawa chooses it's victim, they fall into a trance like state, similar to sleep paralysis. The victims feel as if they can not move or scream, have a sensation of a weight on their chest, and can feel that they are being violated.

If, after being attacked, the victims continue to not believe in the Popobawa, or does not share their experiences of being, well, you know, violated. It will become enraged and attack again.

How to Protect Yourself

There are numerous ways to protect yourself from the Popobawa:

  • Bathing yourself in pigs oil
  • Using salt and iron to bar your house
  • Sleeping outdoors
  • Reciting prayers from the Qu'ran or holding onto the Qu'ran while sleeping

A stamp commemorating the rule of the Al Busaid Dynasty of Oman
A stamp commemorating the rule of the Al Busaid Dynasty of Oman | Source

Brief History

Zanzibar used to be a popular slave trading and spice trading post in 1832, especially after the Arabs set up trading colonies, and the Omani Sultan moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar.

During this time frame, it is believed that a sheikh summoned a djinn to seek revenge on his neighbors, however, the sheikh lost control of the djinn, which betrayed and killed his master, now set free to wreak havoc on the people of Zanzibar.

Another popular story is that the demon was created from the collective pain and hatred of the slaves.

What do you think about Popobawa?

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Skepticism - Author's Thoughts

Okay, time for my own personal comments, I'm a pretty big skeptic when it comes to the world of the paranormal, even though I personally enjoy researching about it. They say that Popobawa's attacks would rise during times of political movement or stress, this makes me think that somehow, someone is behind all these Popobawa attacks, or maybe even a group itself is conducting all this mess.

To add to the fact that victims often hear something akin to the sound of a car engine right before the attack, see puffs of smoke, or smell a foul odour. Could it be that the car engine is the assailents (human assailent's) car, and the foul odour is the smell of some sort of chemical used to cause paralysis?

Well that's just what I think, maybe the Popobawa is just a political tool, I don't have enough knowledge to claim how that would help whatever election office that runs. But something just seems very odd about the behaviour of the Popobawa, especially when compared to other demons. What do you guys think?


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