A to Z Challenge Folklore

Treacherous Obayifo #folklore #AtoZChallenge

O is for Obayifo

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the A to Z Challenge here.

I came across this creature years ago while researching African creatures for a book I was writing.

Obayifo. Image credit


Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers [1929]

Mr. Rattray also describes the obayifo, which word is derived from bayi, “sorcery.” This is “a kind of human vampire whose chief delight is to suck the blood of children, whereby the latter pine and die. Men and women possessed of this power and credited with volitant powers, being able to quit their bodies and travel great distances in the night. Besides sucking the blood of their victims, they are supposed to be able to extract the sap and juices of crops. Cases of coco blight are ascribed to the work of the obayifo. These witches are supposed to be very common, and a man never knows but that his friend or even his wife may be one. When prowling at night they are supposed to emit a phosphorescent light. An obayifo in every day life is supposed to be known by having sharp, shifty eyes, that are never at rest, also by showing an undue interest in food, and always talking about it, especially meat, and hanging about when cooking is going on, all of which habits are therefore purposely avoided.”

Obayifo. Image credit.

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore by Theresa Bane

Sasabonsam are said to be able to cause sickness in a person just by looking at them and are oftentimes used as a servant by an OBAYIFO.

*More can be read in the book.

Obayifo. Image credit

Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology by Theresa Bane

Asema (AH- say- ma)



From the Republic of Suriname, this VAMPIRIC WITCH looks like an old man or woman with red eyes and toes pointed downward. At night, before it can go out hunting, the asema will remove its skin, fold it up neatly, and hide it. With its skin safely hidden away, the asema shape- shifts into a ball of blue light, much like a CORPSE CANDLE. Flying through the air, it slips in and out of people’s homes through even the smallest of openings. Finicky blood drinkers, the asema will avoid those people whose blood has a bitter taste to it. Once they find someone whose blood they find palatable, they return to the victim again and again, night after night, until the person eventually dies. Telltale signs of attack are large red and blue spots at the site of the bite.

Obayifo (Oh- BAY- if- oh)

Variation: Abayifo, ASEMA, ASIMAN, Obeyifo, Obayifu

The Ashanti people of the Gold Coast of Africa have in their vampiric lore a witch who uses his powers to drain the life and energy from children and crops. He is called an obayifo (“sorcery”). The Ashanti believe that people are born with the predisposition to become an obayifo, that it is not something that can be taught or passed on to another. In all respects the obayifo is human. Unless he is in a physical confrontation in front of witnesses, his secret may never be known, for when confronted with violence, his skin emits phosphorescence. This witch will oftentimes have a vampiric creature known as a SASABONSAM as a servant or familiar.

At night the obayifo, who has something of an obsession with food, leaves his body and flies off in search of prey (children and crops), but he is especially fond of the cacao bean tree, whose seeds are the primary ingredient in chocolate. When draining the life- energy from a person, it is a long, drawn- out, painful process, and it may take days or even weeks for the victim to finally die. Obayifo also has the ability, after drinking a magical elixir made of fruit and vegetable juices, to shape- shift into various animal forms in which it will adopt to kill people as well. The Ashanti’s neighboring tribe, the Dahomean, calls its version of the OBAYIFO an ASIMAN.

Asiman (Ass- AH- min)

From the folklore of the Dahomey people of Africa comes the asiman, a living VAMPIRIC WITCH. She gained her evil powers originally by casting a specific magical spell and is now forever changed; she can remove her skin and transform herself into a CORPSE CANDLE, a form that gives the ability to fly through the sky (see LIVING VAMPIRE). From the air she hunts for suitable prey, and after feeding, she is able to shapeshift into an animal. Only when it is in its animal form can the asiman be destroyed (see AFRICAN VAMPIRE WITCH). Vampires that are similar to the asiman are the ASEMA, AZÉMAN, LOOGAROO, OBAYIFO and the SOUCAYANT.

*More can be read in the book.

Obayifo. Image credit.

The Everything Vampire Book by Barb Karg, Arjean Spaite, and Rick Sutherland

Obayifo: In West African lore, the obayifo are witchlike creatures who maintain human form by day and prowl at night to suck the blood from children, causing them sickness and death. The obayifo are also held responsible for poor crops and the deaths of livestock.

*More can be read in the book.

Obayifo. Image credit.

The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton

The obayifo, unknown to Summers, was actually the Ashanti name for a West African vampire that reappeared under similar names in the mythology of most of the neighboring tribes. For example, among the Dahomeans, the vampire was known as the asiman. The obayifo was a witch living incognito in the community. The process of becoming a witch was an acquired trait—there was no genetic link. Hence, there was no way to tell who might be a witch. Secretly, the witch was able to leave its body and travel at night as a glowing ball of light. The witches attacked people—especially children—and sucked their blood. They also had the ability to suck the juice from fruits and vegetables.

*More can be read in the book.

Obayifo. Image credit.

Further Reading:

Obayifo. Image credit

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

Not a lot of original folklore – at least the written kind – is available about the Obayifo. What can be found, though, speaks of a kind of vampire who delights in the blood of children, sucks the juices of crops, destroys cacao crops, and is obsessed with food. They can be recognised by their shifty eyes, preoccupation with food – especially meat – and a phosphorescent light coming from them at night. They supposedly have the power to leave their bodies and travel great distances, possibly as a glowing light, at night. They prefer the darkness to prowl. These witch-vampires can be anyone.

In some lore, the Obayifo casted a spell to create itself as a living witch-vampire, while in other lore one is born like this. Sometimes this creature can even shape-shift, besides as a type of corpse candle or will-o’-the-wisp, into an animal.

However these living vampires who are also witches came to be, they are deadly and shouldn’t be messed with. Hide the children and cacao plants!

Obayifo. Image credit

Obayifo in Modern Culture

I couldn’t get an actual Obayifo in any books, movies, TV series, or games. The closest to this vampire-witch I could get, was the Heretics in The Vampire Diaries.

Heretics as vampires. Image credit.
Heretics as witches. Image credit.

“Vampires with witch powers; an aberration of Nature — they can never be allowed to escape. Imagine Kai with the bloodlust of a vampire. Now imagine six of them. ” — Josette to Damon and Elena in I Never Could Love Like That

The Heretics were a powerful coven[1] of witchvampirehybrids originating from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Originally members of the Gemini Coven, the Heretics were feared among the witch community as they retained their ability to practice magic despite having been turned into vampires.

Learn more here.

Obayifo in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Obayifo

Two kinds.
First is the known kind.
They were once Witches or Warlocks who made an alliance with the Unseelie King for more power and longevity. They became Vampires who drained the life from the earth and blood from small children (under seven years old). They retained all their witchy powers and then some.
The earth dies wherever they go as they suck the very life from it.
Their mission is to completely destroy all life.
Their magic lies in a bone pendant around their necks. The pendant is made from the bone of any powerful witch or warlock they have killed.
They are usually attractive, powerful, with a hunger for power and blood that cannot be met.
The second kind are victims of the first kind who played vampire and tried to make more Obayifos from normal, non-magical humans. Rarely does it take. They have to bite so deeply with their fangs that they pierce all the major vessels and arteries in the throat/neck in one bite to transfer a bit of their own powers. The bite also kills and then brings the victim back to life.
The second kind of Obayifo cannot make more of their own kind – only the first kind of Obayifo can make more in this way. This second kind is more Vampire than Witch. They can drink any blood to sustain life. They can also eat food. They do not burn in the sun. A stake to the heart cannot kill them; starvation can.
Mortal enemies:
Type one: Nature Faeries and Druids.
Type two: None Known (they usually die via suicide – starving themselves).

See this fae in action in my writing:

Dark Fae (Origin of the Fae #7)

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Where did you encounter the Obayifo for the first time? What do you think of this vampire? Any folklore about the Obayifo you’d like to share? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

7 thoughts on “Treacherous Obayifo #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Just as we (humans) seem to need God or gods to direct the better things in life, we also need someone to blame for crops that fail or children who fail to thrive – why is it so hard to live in a secular world of good and bad luck…

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