Kongamato: The real ‘Batmen’ of East Africa

Image source: ssantanugamilcom.wordpress.com

The Kaonde tribe are a Bantu-speaking people who occupy the northwestern regions of present-day Zambia. A number of these tribesmen can also be located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They trace their descent along the mother’s family tree and are exceptional farmers who grow corn, millet, cassava and sorghum to mention but a few.

Kongamato: The real 'Batmen' of East Africa
The Kaonde Tribe gathered for a ritual ceremony.
Image source: kaondewordpress.wordpress.com

The Kaonde tribesmen carry a charm with them as they go about their normal duties. This charm is named; ‘muchi wa kongamato’.

As opposed to a charm to be used in wooing women, this charm is carried by the Kaonde tribesmen to help them ward off a rare bat-like flying creature the locals call; ‘kongamato’.

Kongamato amongst the Kaonde tribesmen roughly means; ‘over-turner of boats’. The creature is so named because the Kaonde locals who cross the swampy areas where Kongamato resides report that it causes disturbances on the surface of the water which in turn causes their boats to overturn, allowing Kongamato the opportunity to feed on the drowning Kaonde tribesmen.

The Illustrated London News in 1958 reported the writings of a science journalist named; Maurice Burton who is recorded through his writings to have acknowledged the widespread reports from Afrika of a pterodactyl-like creature.

Kongamato is described by the locals as a huge lizard with leathery wings, long-toothed beak and an overall stature of an overgrown bat that feeds on flesh. The Kaonde tribesmen also refer to the creature as a nocturnal being.

In 1923, Frank H. Melland published a book named; ‘In Witchbound Africa’. This book was inspired by his encounters with the Kaonde tribesmen and the stories they shared with him concerning their possession of the muchi wa kongamato charm.

Kongamato: The real 'Batmen' of East Africa
An artist’s impression of Kaonde Tribesmen wrestling a Kongamato.
Image source: cryptidz.fandom.com

The narrative follows that none of the natives at the time was willing to take him to the site where Kongamato was believed to dwell.

But in his burning desire to have a visual experience of what the natives had already seen, he showed them a picture of a pterodactyl and the natives collectively agreed on its striking resemblance to Kongamato.

Though Kongamato till date has remained the Afrikan pterodactyl because of the secretive nature surrounding its existence, we are not quick to dismiss their place among the living simply because they are not seen flying in the day or night sky. Besides, is the human race not responsible for the extinction and continuous disappearance of plant and animal species that are now named extinct?

A brief documentary on Kongamato.
Video credit: YouTube.

New plant and animal breeds are being discovered every other day. Mankind has not exhaustively explored the entire length and breadth, as well as nook and cranny of the water body and land mass making up the planet called Earth, and so, many are the discoveries that are yet to be made.

The ancients have said that; to every rumor, there is a truth and to every concept with a name there is a corresponding physical reality.


Childress, D. H. (1989). Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa and Arabia. Adventures Unlimited Press. U.S.A.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Kaonde.

Melland, F. H. (1923). In Witchbound Africa: An account of the primitive Kaonde tribe and their beliefs. Routledge.

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: July 3, 2019


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