The Buda Or African Werehyena

My birthday tomorrow – birthday month dirty 30ths

I’m a dog person so this whole month is dedicated to canine cryptids

This episode is like the walking dead had a baby with an American werewolf in London and that baby had a baby with a vampire! Then the vampire zombie wolf baby was raised in a voodoo home. I am SO stoked about it. This is what I strive for in cryptozoology. The utter impossible and inconceivable. This is the stuff that gets my engine running. And this awesome tale hails to you from my native land of Africa! Ethiopia to be exact. So without any further ado, I give you,

The Buda

So, this is my first cryptid that’s not actually a full cryptid!

I was today years old – yay!

I actually only found out when I started doing my research that the Buda creature is more man than beast. Initially, I thought it was a full on were-hyena. But no. it is so so so much more than that.

There are many tales of a were-hyena like creature throughout africa. However, today we will be focusing on the buda of the Amhara tribe of Ethiopia. Typically, in ethiopean culture, there are two distinct types of people; the rega and the buda. Rega people come from a lineage of nisu atint, or ‘clean bone’ people. You can often trace their lineage back to some important figure who possessed a great deal of wealth. They are known by the villagers around them, their families, and their friends.

The buda are outsiders. Almost the gypsy folk if you like. Born into a lower class family on either their mother or father’s side, the buda status cannot be avoided. Furthermore, the buda is possessed by the evil eye

I was today years old – Yay!

I was also today years old when I found out the evil eye wasn’t just a Greek thing. my whole life I thought it was just from Greece but now I find out that it actually has a foot all over the world. And in Ethiopia nog al! who would’ve thought! Not me that’s for damn sure.

How To See A Buda

A buda is very difficult to tell apart from a normal Amhara person. However, there are a few traits that may set a buda aside from a rega:

  • Thin: Buda people are thought to be much thinner than the rega since their blood is believed to be thinner
  • Eyes: They may have an eye deformity, or suffer from discharge of tears or pus from their eyes
  • Looks: They look sideways at people rather than straight on
  • Skin: They have a lighter skin than others around them
  • Spit: They also are sometimes believed to have an ash like substance in their mouths which prohibits them from spiting

The best way to suss out a buda is by noting whether or not they are new comers to the community, and what line of work they are in.

It is said that budas are usually trade people. Notably, they are akin to black smiths, weavers and pot makers. The Amhara people say that they are unable to learn the art of weaving like a buda.

However, the buda aren’t actually evil by natural. They are very much like an every day person.

So long as the relationship is kept at a superficial level, the buda and rega people can co-exist in an amicable manner. However, once the evil eye strikes, all hell breaks loose.

Who is at Risk Of A Buda Attack

  • Good looking people
  • Good looking children
  • Wealthy people
  • Weak people: either anxiety stricken folk or ill people – act fine around a buda if you don’t want to be attacked
  • Anyone who mentions the buda name – especially at night – kind of like a Bettlejuice situation – saying his name will aggravate the buda and cause him to attack and eat a family member of the one who uttered his name.

How the buda attacks

So, there are four keyways in which the Buda attacks. And this is super interesting because you don’t necessarily need to be alive to be preyed on by the buda. You see, a common trait of the buda is to be a grave robber. Often, if a buda has set his sights on a victim, and the victim falls ill, the buda will either attack the victim once he or she is healthy once more or do its buda thing when the corpse has been buried. Get ready for the zombie portion of the evening, folks!

The Hyena

One of the most notable attacks is when the buda chooses to transform into a hyena. This is done in the shade of night and is done so as to conceal the buda’s identity. Once they have decided upon a victim, the buda will go into his home, strip his body of hair, and roll in the ashes of the hearth. Now I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath for the gory, ripping limb from limb attack by the huge canine beast. But no.

Once the buda finds his victim, he fixes an evil gaze upon him or her. With that, the buda returns home and rolls in the ashes of the hearth once more. this will then transform him back into his human form.

He then sits and waits in anticipation for his victim to die.

The Noose

The next way a buda snares his victims is through the use of a certain root. I couldn’t for the life of me find the name of this plant but just as well. The buda will once more scout his victim. Once he has decided on one, he will then slowly make a loop with the root, forming an almost knot – I picture it being like a noose almost.

The buda will then slowly draw the knot smaller, closing the loop. As he does so, the victim begins to die.

Once the victim is buried, the buda will then visit the grave site, squat along side it and slowly, loosen the knot, whilst shouting at the dead to arise. This will cause the corpse of the deceased to rise. Once it is risen, the knot is drawn tight once more to close the grave.

The Pancake

The third ritual is a bit bizarre. The buda will issue an evil glance at his victim, killing the unsuspecting person once more. once the person is buried, the buda will venture to their grave with two round, thin lentil pancake breads in hand. This is very important, one of the pancakes must be lying flat, while the other is folded over twice.

Once the buda arrives at the grave, he unfolds the folded pancake, causing the grave to open, and the corpse to be exhumed. To close up the grave, he will then fold the flat pancake.

The Love Interest

The fourth attack is one of carnal nature. in short, if a beautiful buda woman, or strikingly handsome buda man arrives in town, you’re screwed n more than one way.

A buda will court their victim, drawing them ever closer to them. The buda will then ‘feed’ off of their lover. The eye of the buda will suck the blood out of their victim, causing them to grow thinner, weaker and more susceptible to the buda’s attacks.

So, now we know the four various attack methods, however, death is the least of your worries if you are attacked by a buda.

What’s The Deal With The Buda And The Dead

The whole aim of the game of being a buda is to raise the dead. Their main goal in life is to have a zombie slave.

So, remember all the attacks we spoke about which end up killing a person? The buda will then take the corpse back to their home, where he will perform a ritual to reincarnate the corpse. The corpse is then the slave of the buda.

However, unlike its human form, the corpse cannot make a single sound. They are, however, known to silently weep in anguish, and one can see streams of tears flooding their face at any given time. That is, if you see them in their human form.

So, what if the buda gets a house guest? Obviously that will throw a spanner in the works. However, all budas are known to posess two switches (wooden rods). When touched with the first switch, the zombie slave will transform into a pot. Then, once the guest has left, the buda uses the second switch to give the pot a tap, transforming it into his zombie slave once more.

This all sounds pretty grim for the poor victim. However, there is a bright side. They will only be in servitude to the buda for seven years. Once that time has passed, their body begins to slowly decay, breaking down into ash. Ashes to ashes am I right?

How To Overcome The attack Of a Buda

This tale just keeps going from bizarre to weird as the solutions to dealing with a buda encounter are trippy AF.

So first off, as we know, relations with a buda are really advised against. The classic “but I can change him” isn’t guna work here girly.

If a priest suspects you to be eyeing out a sexy buda, he will make you crawl to church and back home on your hands and knees for seven days. This is done in the hopes of frustrating the rega out of love.

Next up, if a parent is scared that their child may be under attack by a buda, they may, under consult of a dabtara, begin referring to their child in the opposite gender to the chil’s actual sex.

Another way to help your child out is to give them a hair cut. Little boys heads are shaved all but the section of hair that grows over the fontanelle, and the little girls hair is cut in a ring around her head – almost like a bald monk cut. This is said to ward off minor attacks of lice from the buda.

If the attack of the buda is a little more serious, the rega parent can offer their child short-term protection by lightly, but rapidly spitting into their child’s face. The rega parent will also use the common prayer “Let God protect you from the evil eye”.

As an adult, in order to protect yourself from a buda, one should basically have no friends and keep to themselves. The only people you can share your true self with are those closest to you. The Amhara fear that by laughing and being open in a stranger’s company, you are making yourself vulnerable to the attack of the evil eye.

Another common way to protect yourself is to conceal your face – particularly your mouth and nose area – behind  a cloak.

Treatment for the attacked

There are a few treatments on the block for people suspected of being the victim of a buda.

If the family of the attacked is poor, they will take the victim to their local church and enlist the help of the dabtara. The dabtara will perform a blessing over holy water, which the victim will then drink. The victim is then made to inhale the smoke of a burning root.

The next treatment available is for the more wealthy families – however it really seems like the short end of the stick as far as I’m concerned.

The victim is taken to a witch doctor who will place a silver bracelet on his or her left wrist. The witch doctor will then go into a trance, seeking to be possessed by some demonic spirit or another. This spirit will then offer the appropriate cure for the inflicted. However it doesn’t stop there.

In order to seek out the buda, the witch doctor will then place a blade into a fire. Once the end is glowering hot, he will take the blade and press it to the victim’s face, causing their face to scar in a certain pattern.

This pattern will then too arise on the face of the attaker, allowing the family to single out the buda who attacked their loved one.

The third method of treatment involves neither a priest nor a witch doctor, but rather, the help of a family elder.

A noticeable side effect of a buda attack is when a person starts biting their lip. When the elder sees this, they will tie a string to the left thumb of the victim. The victim must then breathe in smoke made by a dung fire. The victim will eventual be able to speak in the voice of his or her attacker, recounting the chain of events which led to their attack.

The relatives will then ask the attacker what they must do to rid their loved one of the curse.

This is where things get grim again. The attacker will demand something nasty be brought forward. Usually, the buda spirit calls for; beer dregs, ashes, a dead rat or human or animal faeces.

The victim will then eat what ever has been brought forward and should – god willing – cry out “I have left him! I have left my victim!” with that, the family will know that their loved one is free from the attack.

The fourth way involves a more one on one approach with the buda. Once the victim begins acting out – often biting their lip, jumping up and down weirdly or shouting incoherent babbles – their family must urge them to say the name of their attacker. If the victim cannot, the family must then tie a rope to the victim and let them lead them to the home of the buda. If neither of these steps work, the family must pay attention to the victims behaviour. If they suddenly burst into tears inexplicably in the presence of someone, the family will know that person is the buda.

The family must then – preferably without his knowledge – take a piece of hair, and a piece of clothing from the buda. The buda is then brought to the bedside of the victim – this im assuming is in the buda’s knowledge – and is then made to spit on and walk over the victim. A fire is then made with the hair and clothing of the buda. The victim must inhale the smoke of the fire until he exclaims that the illness has left his body.

Finally, if the buda succeeded in killing his victim, a family member can take guard of the grave for forty days and forty nights, ensuring the body cannot be exhumed.

Furthermore, if a buda has killed a person, and the community know who the buda is, they may exile the buda, or kill them.


The origins of the buda – according to the Amhara people – go all the way back to the beginning of creation.

Apparently, the Ethiopian bible is a little different to my own. I shall share their creation story in which God creates the buda now.

Eve was said to have thirty children. One day, God said he would like to meet all of Eves kids. Even was suspicious of this – hence I’m assuming this took place after she bit the apple.

As such, she decided to present fifteen of her thirty children before the Lord. She hid the other fifteen in the shadows. God was displeased by this action, and subsequently cursed the hidden children to be the demons on earth.

After some time, a few of the cursed children repented. Taking pity on them, God then turned these children into animals such as foxes and jackals.

However, the children who remained demonic are known to be the ancestors of the buda people of today.

What I Think the Buda Is

So, this is definitely a ringer. Never ever have I ever had to try and decide what I think a were-hyena, shape shifter, zombie slave master could really be.

Look, hyenas are eerie freaking creatures. And I’d happily state that a buda is just a hyena that people were scared of.

However, the fact that a buda doesn’t attack a person physically is where the issue comes in. if you are the victim of a hyena it’s not going to look you to death. Although in Botswana that happened to me.

But none the less if a hyena attacks you, you will have no face left. So that’s out.

Honestly I believe that this is a healthy superstition and tale of precaution to protect their people. I also think it’s a kind of judgey way to shun outsiders.

Do I believe a buda exists? Who knows. I’ve said the name enough tonight to rustle one up so I’ll tell you tomorrow if someone I know got ‘looked to death’.

I think there definitely is a place in the world for mystery and magic, and perhaps a buda is just that.

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Listen to the full episode here!