Two of the many types of vampires in Africa, the obayifo and the asasabonsam.
The obayifo was a witch living within the community. Becoming a witch was not genetic, so community members had no preconceived knowledge of the witch. The obayifo had the ability to leave its body and travel at night as a glowing ball of night. It would then attack people, especially children, and drink their blood. The obayifo could also suck the juice from fruits.
The asasabonsam were the vampires of the Ashanti people of Ghana in western Africa. They were humanoid with iron teeth and lived in the forest. They were rarely seen, but they were known to sit on treetops and catch unsuspecting passers-by with their hook-shaped feet.
Among the tribes of the Niger River delta area, there was a belief that witches held nightly meetings with demons to plot the death of neighbors. They would kill by ‘gradually sucking the blood of the victim though some supernatural and invisible means, the effects of which on the victim is imperceptible to others.’ The Ibo believed that the victim of this blood-sucking process was aware of the pain but could not sense the physical cause of it. The result was death.
In Nigeria, witches were believed to suck out the heart of victims without the victim knowing what was happening to them. The witch would accomplish this by sitting on the victim’s roof at night and use it’s magical power. It was thought that those dying of tuberculosis were victims of witchcraft.
The Yako people of Nigeria believed that disembodied witches attacked people as they slept. They would suck their blood and leave ulcers as a sign of their attack. They also could act as an incubus/succubus and suffocate people by lying on top of them as they slept.
Discovering a Witch
After one’s death, if the person was suspected of being a witch, the corpse would be taken from the burial ground and examined for signs of blood in the burial plot, incorruption, and abnormal swelling of the corpse. A true witch’s grave would have a small tunnel leading from the body to the earth’s surface to allow a small animal such as a bat or rat to escape to the surface. Even after death, a witch could continue to perform witchcraft, but this could be stopped by destroying the witch’s body.
Magical Powers of Witches
There was also a belief that witches could raise the dead and capture a departed spirit which they would then control to terrorize the dead man’s family. The body controlled by the witch was called a isithfuntela. The witch would cut out the tongue and drive a peg into the brain so that it became zombie-like. These isithfuntela would then attack people by hypnotizing them and driving a nail through their heads.