Africa Myths and Legend

Igbo Myths: Owls, Bats and Vultures

In the Igbo cultural society, nocturnal birds are considered to be harbingers of evil. Night birds like bats and owls are associated with witches or dibias (traditional medicine men). It’s believed witches use them as messengers or even transform into these birds. The owl is perceived as a messenger of death. There’s this belief that anytime an owl visits a house, a person dies. Bats are identified as vampires and also supposedly bring bad omen. Physically, both creatures have distinguishing but terrifying looks. There is a folktale about how the bat was rejected by his townsmen which ended up making him an outcast and hence his way of hanging upside down.

On the other hand, vultures are not nocturnal. They are easily distinguished by their bald heads. Vultures are scavengers and are hence perceived as unclean birds by the Igbo society as they feed on carrion. They are also considered messengers of spirits and evil.

They’ve all got a similarly bad reputation linked with both nightmares and danger. It also comes as no surprise that people that don’t know much about these birds fear them the most.


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