At one point in history virtually everyone feared vampires, but then times changed and science and logic beat out superstition – vampires were no longer feared. That being said, you wouldn’t think that today, in our modern world, that entire villagers would be deathly afraid of the undead, right? Well, according to articles I stumbled across from 2002, mass vampire hysteria spread throughout the villages of Malawi, Africa. The fear of vampires is still very much alive.
A few years back in 2002, rumors spread that the government of Malawi in southern Africa was conspiring with vampires to collect human blood in exchange for food. This triggered a fear so great that frightened villagers fled from their work and left their fields unattended in attempt to escape the mysterious bloodsucker’s wrath. The president of the time, Bakili Muluzi, worked with other officials to calm the fears, stating that the rumors were unfounded and a plot to undermine the government.
It was reported that villagers were taking matters into their own hands, as more people came forward claiming they were victims of the blood-thieves. One woman said she had a mark on her arm from where blood had been drawn via a needle. The fear grew so great that soon random people were being labeled as vampires and were killed by vigilantes. One man was stoned to death for being suspected as a vampire, three others were badly injured.
Shocking that something that was once so prominent hundreds of years ago can still be found in parts of the world today. It’s amazing, and horrifying, that vampire hysteria still exists.
According to journalist Ralph Blumenthal, it was no surprise that the vampire myth spread like wildfire in Malawi. In 2002 there was widespread starvation and an AIDS epidemic in Malawi. Plus, President Bakili Muluzi was trying to extend his two-term limit in order to remain in office, which caused a public outcry. The vampire myth can express a society’s greatest fears, and, according to Blumenthal, the Malawi vampire panic was a reminder that “among desperate people, who with reason feel their life’s blood, or that of their children, is being sucked away, the vampire myth still resonates uncannily with human experience.”
What are your thoughts of the vampire hysteria in Malawi?