The popobawa is a shetani or spirit found in Zanzibar and is believed to have first appeared on the island of Pemba . The popobawa has a few times been the source of outbreaks of mass hysteria ever since 1965 [2,3].
Popobawa is Swahili and translates to "bat-wing". The name is given to it as this is the shadow it casts over the land when it attacks in the night .
The popobawa is a shapeshifter and usually takes the shape of a bat when in search of its prey. It can however also take the form of other animals and humans. The way to locate a popobawa is by the sulfurous odor it spreads but even this is not always true. It is usually described to have one eye .
The popobawa usually hunt at night but as usual, this varies. It does not discriminate in who it attacks as it targets men, women, and children and may attack multiple homes in any given neighborhood in one night. The attacks may consist only of poltergeist-like phenomena but may also be physical assault and even anal rape of both men and women .
The victims are then urged to tell others of their assault and threatened with repeat visits if they don't. The usual method of guarding oneself from the attacks is spending nights awake with your family around a campfire .
When researched it can be seen that the popobawa attacks correlate with elections and political uncertainty .
: Pitcher, Gemma, "The Shetani Of Zanzibar", Zanzibar: The Bradt Travel Guide (6) ed.)
: Walsh, M.T. (2005). "Diabolical Delusions and Hysterical Narratives in a Postmodern State". Presentation to the Senior Seminar, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 4 February 2005.
: Walsh, M. T. (2009). "The Politicisation of Popobawa: Changing Explanations of a Collective Panic in Zanzibar". Journal of Humanities. 1 (1): 23–33.
: Jansen, Henriette (1996). "Popobawa is Dead!". Tanzanian Affairs (53).
: "Sex attacks blamed on bat demon". BBC News. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2010-04-29.