impundulu, noun

i’impundulu, mpunduluShow more Also i’impundulu, mpundulu, umpundulu, and with initial capital.
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu.
In Xhosa and Zulu mythology: an evil spirit which most often appears in the form of a bird; lightning bird. Also attributive. See also lightning (and hail) doctor (doctor sense 1 b).
Several species of bird are associated with the ‘impundulu’, the most common one being Scopus umbretta (see hammerkop).
1894 E. Glanville Fair Colonist 289The Mpundulu flying high in the darkness has seen us...The lightning bird swooped from his watch above us like an eagle with fiery wings.
1908 F.C. Slater Sunburnt South 207He spoke..of Impundulu, the Lightning Bird, with white plumes and flapping wings. How it descends to the earth in a flash, accomplishes its fatal errand and is gone in a moment of time.
1937 B.J.F. Laubscher Sex, Custom & Psychopathology 13The Impundulu plays the most prominent part in persecutory witchcraft, and is reputed to be merciless in its attacks on the victim. People so attacked cough up blood and frequently die. In consequence, pulmonary tuberculosis is considered as the work of the Impundulu.
1955 J.B. Shephard Land of Tikoloshe 11As everybody in Africa knows, the Umpundulu is a fabulous fowl that lives up in the sky: the flapping of its huge wings produces thunder, and lightning is caused by the hot fat which drips from its breast, falling to earth.
1961 H.F. Sampson White-Faced Huts 27My brother’s wife said the ‘mpundulu’ (the lightning bird) belonged to the deceased. The ‘mpundulu’ stole the sick woman and placed her in front of the deceased’s hut.
1976 West & Morris Abantu 20Perhaps one of the most fascinating of these beliefs among the Xhosa-speaking peoples was that in witch ‘familiars’...Impundulu, a lightning bird, who appeared in the form of an extremely handsome man. Both Uthikoloshe and Impundulu were supposed to have sexual intercourse with witches and they have a highly sexual aura about them.
1982 Pace Feb. 12Her revelations that some of the corpses are impundulus have already caused loss of life. In Port Elizabeth three women were killed by an angry mob which accused them of witchcraft.
1990 J. Knappert Aquarian Guide to Afr. Mythology 120The Impundulu is a large bird, sometimes described as a vulture, but with a penis, shaped like an ox tongue...If a woman who ‘has’ an Impundulu at night, takes a human lover as well, the Impundulu will attack him, suck his blood and so cause him to cough up blood and die.
an evil spirit which most often appears in the form of a bird; lightning bird. Also attributive.
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