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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Sex-mad 'ghost' scares Zanzibaris
Zanzibar
Fear now runs through Zanzibar's narrow stone streets
By Ally Saleh in Zanzibar

Fear has struck residents of the Zanzibar Islands after rumours of the re-emergence of a sexually voracious ghost that attacks people while they sleep in their beds at night.

Many Zanzibaris are now refusing to sleep in their houses as they believe it only preys on people in the comfort of their own beds.

The ghost or genie goes by the name of Popo Bawa and people believe that it sodomises its victims, most of whom are men.

In recent years the residents on the semi-autonomous Tanzanian islands claimed that Popo Bawa only visited the islanders during voting, such as in the contentious general elections in 1995 and 2000.

But to the surprise of many this current ghost has reappeared when there is no polling of any kind.

Smoke and smells

In the latest panic, he is said to be striking in the north of Zanzibar island as well as in central Pemba.

Map of Zanzibar
Zanzibar has semi-autonomous status
People claim his presence in a house is revealed by an acrid smell and a puff of smoke.

Victims then speak of being in a trance or dreamlike state as they are molested.

And, so the story goes, if they do not reveal what has happened then Popo Bawa will strike the next night.

A previous ghost, known for attacking children, was reported to have terrorised the islands for six months.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
By Ally Saleh in Zanzibar
"Victims talk of passing through a dream"
See also:

16 Jul 01 | Africa
Zanzibar festival showcases arts
31 Oct 00 | Africa
Zanzibar: Braced for trouble
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tanzania
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