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The Popobawa is an evil spirit that allegedly thrives on the island of Pemba, near Tanzania in Africa. It has caused mass panic over the years. The Popobawa is said to be a bat-like creature with one eye. It is medium sized and has leathery skin. In Swahili the Popobawa's name means "bat wing".

The Popobawa is a shapeshifter and described as taking different forms, not just that of a bat as its name implies. It can take either human or animal form, and metamorphose from one into the other. The Popobawa typically visits homesteads at night, but can also be seen in the daytime. It is sometimes associated with the presence of a sulfurous odor, but this is not always the case. The Popobawa attacks men, women and children, and may attack all of the members of a household, before passing on to another house in the neighbourhood. Its nocturnal attacks can comprise simple physical assault and/or poltergeist-like phenomena; but most feared is sexual assault and the sodomising of adult men and women. Victims are often urged to tell others that they have been assaulted, and are threatened with repeated visits by the Popobawa if they do not. During Popobawa panics many people try to guard against attack by spending the night awake outside of their houses, often huddled around an open fire with other family members and neighbours. Panics occur most often in Zanzibar, throughout the island of Pemba and in the north and west of Unguja (Zanzibar) island, including Zanzibar town. Episodes have also been reported in Dar es Salaam and other towns on the mainland coast of Tanzania.


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