A Wazimamoto

May 28, 2009 at 1:23 am (Interesting Vampires, Vampires around the World) (, , )

Recently I read YELLOW MOON by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This story takes place in New Orleans and has a very unique form of vampire. This spirit rises from the ocean, drawn by the sounds of music, it latches on to a person and drains them of blood. With each new victim it becomes more substantial and recovers more of its memory.

The novel’s heroine is Dr. Marie Laveau, a descendant of New Orleans’ great voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. She herself is a fledgling Voodoo priestess, still learning about her own powers. Powers which are pitted against this creature who is leaving an ever increasing trail of bodies and ghosts across New Orleans. In the music rich atmosphere of New Orleans, where sin and corruption fester, the creature finds a perfect home.

During Marie and Detective Daniel Park’s hunt for this creature, they met with a professor who finally names the creature. It is an African vampire, that comes of the times of Colonialism, a wazimamoto.

In an interview at http://hermitosis.blogspot.com, Jewell Parker Rhodes explains “Stoker’s Dracula seeks immortality; the wazimamoto, a vampire created from colonial oppression in Africa, seeks to destroy cultural traditions. For Africans, the British, French and Portuguese tried to steal “cultural blood.” So, Africans created oral tales of a vampire that drains blood. In America, we can talk about the slave traders as wazimamotos and folks who are mentally enslaved, who learn from the oppressors to hate their selves and their culture, can become wazimamotos, too.”

I assumed at first that the wazimamoto was a creation of the author, but I found there are some historical references. Author Luise White recorded the oral traditions which talk about the wazimamoto, in Speaking with Vampires, Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Jewell Parker Rhodes has definitely remodeled it to suit her needs, linking it to the spirit of John, an enemy destroyed by the original Marie Laveau.

I found it most interesting how Marie Laveau kills it. She uses Voodoo, destroying the gris-gris bag that is linked to the original soul. She also uses the power of musicians and their music, not only to call the creature, but to overwhelm it. And finally as a medical doctor, she uses science. Because it came from the sea, it is partially made up of physical matter, a bacteria which she discovers is destroyed by penicillin. So she sprays it with penicillin and it dissolves. Another vampire bites the dust

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