Aid agencies' work in Malawi hit by panic over 'vampires'
Tuesday 24 December 2002
Rumours that Western aid agencies are collecting human blood in return for food aid in famine-stricken Malawi have spread panic among villagers, who are barricading their homes, fearing attacks by vampires. The anxiety is so great in parts of the south that farm workers in one of Africa's poorest countries are staying at home.
President Bakili Muluzi, who has accused the opposition of spreading the rumours that his government was colluding with the aid agencies' "vampirical" demands, has been forced to dispatch a team of cabinet ministers to the area to reassure the people.
Jane Beesley, an Oxfam spokeswoman in the southern city of Blantyre, said: "Some of our staff have been experiencing difficulties getting into villages, because they put up roadblocks and barricades at 4pm because of the fear that people will come and take their blood." Oxfam's relief work had not been particularly affected, "but people are quite frightened in some of the villages".
Vampire rumours are part of Malawi superstition. The latest spate spread last week when The Nation newspaper reported that villagers in southern Thyolo had waylaid three Catholic priests whom they suspected of hunting for blood. A man accused of being a vampire was stoned to death in the same area. A "blood hunter" was reported to have sucked blood from a woman and hurt her son during an attack on their home in a district of Blantyre.
The panic might have been fuelled by a BBC World Service report on a blood clinic in Blantyre. Staff working for a local authority were not allowed into one village because they were carrying bags of cement. It is not known why the villagers were suspicious of the cement, which was to be used on a water bore-hole project.
President Muluzi denounced the vampire stories as malicious and irresponsible. "No government can go about sucking blood of its own people," he told a news conference.
The rumours have increased political tensions in the country, one of the 10 poorest in the world, where protests have already broken out over Mr Muluzi's efforts to stay in office for another five years. He said the rumours were also affecting economic activity in four southern districts as farm workers stayed indoors. He said any opposition politicians found spreading the vampire stories would be punished.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...