Thursday, February 4, 2010
Haiti quake raises fears of child-eating spirits
The earthquake that shattered Haiti has unleashed fears that child-eating spirits, mythological figures entrenched in Haitian culture, are prowling homeless camps in search of young prey. The 'loup-garou,' which means 'wolf man,' is similar to werewolf legends in other parts of the world, but in Haitian folklore it is a person who is possessed by a spirit and can turn into a beast or even a dog, cat, chicken, snake or another animal to suck the blood of babies and young children. Haitians fear loups-garous in the best of times and even more since a powerful earthquake wrecked the capital of Port-au-Prince, killing as many as 200,000 people and forcing hundreds of thousands more to sleep outside in vast camps or on the streets. Some people accused of being loups-garous have apparently been lynched since the earthquake, including a man killed at the La Grotte camp for displaced people on a barely accessible hillside that looks down on Port-au-Prince. Many Haitians practice voodoo, a religion with African roots.