People From The Non-Western World Shared Their Country's Paranormal Beliefs And Myths

June 21, 2016

To what extent does the non-Western world believe in ghosts and the paranormal? Someone asked that question on a Reddit forum and the answers are very entertaining to say the least...

paranormal myths from around the world
Image credit: Paranormal Activity

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. (source)

Mozambique

The paranormal is just another aspect of life here. We have curandeiros and feiticeiros (witch doctors/wizards) 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.

-Let's say a young man is looking for work, but no one will hire him. He can't find a job and he hurts his leg and he is worried about being a contributing member of the family. He goes to the witch doctor and the witch doctor tells the family they must either kill an older member of the family (grandparent, great grandparent) or throw them out on the street because this older person, by still being alive, is stealing the family's luck. [This is an allegedly true story relayed to me by a very close friend. It was his family and his grandmother was thrown out on the street.]

-Depending on where you live in the country, these witch doctors have different powers and different roles in society.

-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).

-One celebration, the mask of a Nyau fell off and he was required to excommunicate himself from the community in which he was born and raised (The gods would torture and destroy him if he did not).

-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.

-If an animal kills a human, that usually means it's the physical embodiment of an evil spirit and must be killed.

-There is a tree (I think it's called the sausage tree? I've always known it as the Kigelia). The witch doctors brew tea with the fruit to cure things such as hypertension and tornadoes. In all actuality, the fruit is pretty poisonous.

All of this is taken VERY seriously. It's not a consideration of whether it might be true or not. Even if it weren't, Mozambicans do not tempt fate. Ever. (source)

South Africa

A community burnt a man alive for "witchcraft" here in South Africa.

It is still much believed in. Muti (Potions) killings are still rife. As is the belief that sleeping with a virgin will cure you of aids.

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. The villagers also complained that Malwane's family had used muti to make then sick after Malwane's death."

(source)

Kenya

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 sh*tless 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. For a school that was in a game reserve full of wild, unpredictable animals(hyenas, 3m long pythons, buffalo etc.), we slept in fear for quite some time!

"The Popo Bawa"

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'! (source)

Turkey

You know Aladdin? The genie? Yeah, Turks believe that some form of Genie can be evil and cause you pain and turmoil in your life. They call it "Cin" (sounds like Gin like the drink). If you call upon Cin, it will show itself sometimes. Some believe that if a door slams and there's no wind, Cin could be a logical explanation. (source)

China/Taiwan

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. That said, despite respecting it as a natural phenomena, my mom used to be terrified of spirits... until she moved to the US. She said she can't understand english so she'd just tell them that if she ran into them. (source)

Uganda

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 night time. (source)

The Philippines

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. Needless to say the horror movie business here is pretty big too. (source)

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