Every religion and region has a different way of relating to the unexplainable. Whether it is witchdoctors, ghosts, ghouls, aliens, omens, or otherwise, each culture believes in and deals with the paranormal to a different extent. In the United States, there are pockets of people who believe more and take it more seriously, but for the most part paranormal activity is subjugated to just being ghost stories with “stories” being the key word. One Redditor wanted to know the extent to which other parts of the world believed in the paranormal, and below are just some of the answers.
A community burnt a man alive for “witchcraft” here in South Africa. A quote from the news article: “Community members had accused him of talking to animals and using an invisible penis to sleep with women in the informal settlement.” They also accused his wife of turning into a snail and terrorizing the community. Muti (Potion) killings are still rife. As is the belief that sleeping with a virgin will cure you of aids.
PLEASE STEP ASIDE
Philippines here. Supernatural beliefs are very much rampant and here you find the most interesting variety of ghosts and witches. Women that grow wings and snap their bodies in half at night, a giant man who smokes cigars under the tree or a monster pretending to be a baby that will kill you if you get too close. A lot of people still believe in these. There are also lots of things you’re not supposed to do like cut your nails at night, take a bath at night or piss under a tree without saying “please step aside” to any nearby dwarves.
Belief in the paranormal is prevalent in Kenya as it is in most sub-Saharan countries. I remember a story from when I was in primary school whereby people believed they were being beaten at night in their sleep by short, midget-like ghosts (the Tanzanian students called them “vibwengo”). People were scared shitless of them for some time before it emerged that it was some Tanzanians who were sneaking up on people in the night and slapping them before slinking away in the dark. Obviously after being exposed of their “vibwengo” lies, they had to resort to a bigger, scarier ghost conspiracy, and that my friends, is how the rumors of the “popo bawa” came about. The popo bawa is a demon that rapes dudes in their sleep. Yes, you read that right, these Tanzanians were intent on ruining our time in that school depending on your level of superstition. The most outrageous part about the popo bawa was that it would supposedly come back every week until you summoned up a group of people in the morning and told them about the ‘incident’!
HONESTLY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS WAS A COUNTRY
Burkina Faso - While the country is predominately Muslim and partially Christian, everyone believes in animism and “witchcraft”. There are traditional medicine men who will cast spells on your enemies, I’ve had small children come to my house to ask for cat poop for a love spell, burning chicken bones to ward off snakes, and swerving your vehicle around a dust devil to avoid hitting a “genie.” My favorite myth is what happens to you if you die outside of your village. If this happens, then your spirit will meander home on the road by itself, but it will be wearing sunglasses. So if you see someone by themselves wearing sunglasses and walking slowly, especially at night, you just passed a ghost.
WHEN I’M DRUNK, I BECOME A NIGHT DANCER
I lived in Uganda for a while. My Ugandan friends were terrified of “night dancers.” Apparently people can get possessed by a spirit that leads them to dance at night and eat people. One of my friends had extended family in very rural Uganda. He was convinced the place was infected with these night dancers. So, whenever he went to visit his uncles/cousins etc. he refused to sleep in their houses and would hole up in a nearby tree for safety during nighttime.
HUNGRY GHOST (OR PAC-MAN) FESTIVAL
Singapore checking in! The older generations generally are more superstitious and the Chinese community here still follows the “hungry ghost festival” every 7th month of the lunar (Chinese) calendar. For a whole month, people burn incense papers for the dead, hold huge performances for them -with the front row seats empty for these spirits- and generally become more wary about going home late because it is rumored that during this month, the gates of hell open and spirits are free to roam. Otherwise, though, the majority of Singaporeans do not follow superstitious rites in most areas of their lives. We don’t have bomohs or spirit doctors and mostly do not trust the word of palm/tarot/readers. The younger generation is even less superstitious, and prefer to reject our parents’ notions and superstitious.
IT’S NOT WEIRD, IT’S LIFE
Chinese/Taiwanese here. Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism are very ingrained in the culture itself which combined, lend to the idea in the elder generations (my parents) that the paranormal are actually just a fact of nature. It’s not “weird” but an aspect of the universe.
SPONSORED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Mozambique here. The paranormal is just another aspect of life here. We have curandeiros and feiticeiros (witchdoctors/wizards/what have you) as well as the Nyau and various legends about animals. I’ll give you a quick break down:
· Witch doctors and 'Traditional medicine’ are actually sponsored and funded by the Mozambican Department of Health. They are specially trained and it’s surprisingly regulated.
· Witch doctors advertise with fliers on the street with everything from penis and breast enlargement to curing infertility to curing bad luck.
· It’s believed that curandeiros communicate by sending lightning bolts to one another. · Some of the very few, real 'homeless’ people in Mozambique are old people thrown out of their families because a witch doctor told the family that the old person was 'stealing the younger person’s luck.’
· The Nyau (out in the western part of the country) are the local gods, embodying chickens and bulls and the weather and a little bit of everything else. They are played by members of the community who go out to the cemetery to prepare and put on their mask and outfits to 'become’ the Nyau. If anyone not in the group witnesses this preparation, they must be killed (usually just banished from the community).
· If you are to ask someone if they have seen a hyena, they must say yes. If the hyena hears that he has not been seen, he will fly (yes, fly) into the house at night and kill that person.
· An owl on the roof means someone in that house will die. They will cut down trees near the houses to prevent owls from getting close.