Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

Gremlin on the Wing

Mathiba Primary School. Classes came to a halt at the Botswanan school when a handful of students reported having seen a small creature covered in black hair and smaller than an average person. The students reported seeing the creature lurking near the school yard and rushed back to their classroom to spread the news. Within minutes, most of the children in the school began reporting similar sightings of the creature, causing pandemonium across the entire school. Students were being treated for shock at the clinic, while others fainted and ran amok, screaming and crying and adding to the developing hysteria.

Botswana’s The Voice reported the following:

Teachers at Mathiba Primary School in Maun had to abruptly end classes last week Friday after students reported seeing a hairy little creature.

Regional Director for North West District in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Acro Maseko said that they had to send students back home after Standard 6 and 7 students claimed to have seen ‘a black little hairy creature which resembled a human being.’

The incident which happened  around 12 noon culminated in ten students treated for shock at a local clinic and released the same day.

“We will be holding prayers in the school soon after meeting parents and chiefs but for now we had asked for professional councillors to help. “

Maseko further said that  although teachers did not see anything, students screamed and ran amok while others fainted which made it hard for classes to continue with classes on that day.

“Standard 7 students are about to startr exams and events of such nature which spark mass hysteria sometimes happen to them in this area,” a teacher said.

When quizzed about past incidents, Maseko said that he was new in the area and was not familiar with past incidents


Note what the teacher from the Mathiba School had to say: “Standard 7 students are about to [start] exams and events of such nature which spark mass hysteria sometimes happen to them in this area,

This sounds like a typical case of mass hysteria. Hysteria that might have be purposely planted by a handful of students that probably waited until the last minute to study. From all the years that I’ve been covering Fortean news and stories, I’ve noticed that countries in Africa and South East Asia seem to have a high number of cases of mass hysteria. This case in Botswana being one of the latest in what seems like a growing trend.

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Obviously were not even considering the possibility of some hairy gnome-like creature stalking school children. No. What we’re looking for is the WHY in this story. Why did the children see what they claimed to have seen? Mass hysteria exists. It’s a natural/social disorder. But a Mass hallucination?

Mass hallucinations cannot (by the constricts of the current laws of physics) exist. It’s just almost impossible for a group of people to be submitted to the same environmental exposures and hallucinate the exact same visual images. It’s not how the human brain is wired.

Lucky for us, there seems to be an explanation for the WHY. A published article in a Psychology journal mentions mass hysteria among schoolchildren and links that to the trauma the child has suffered early in their life:


On May 21, 1979, an outbreak of illness spread swiftly among elementary school students in a Boston suburb. Of 224 boys and girls attending an assembly, 34 were hospitalized with severe dizziness, weakness, hyperventilation, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain. Sudden remission of symptoms, preponderance in girls, and failure of an extensive epidemiological investigation to detect an organic cause indicated mass hysteria. To test the hypothesis that previous loss influenced a child’s vulnerability to current loss and predisposed that child to mass hysteria, we compared the incidence of family disruption in the hospitalized children with that in the nonhospitalized children. A significantly higher rate of parental divorce (P less than .00005) and death within the family (P less than .0005) occurred among the hospitalized children. These findings suggest a relationship between childhood loss and susceptibility to mass hysteria.

Gary W. Small, MD; Armand M. Nicholi, MD

So, should we simply assume that most of these cases of ‘mass hysteria’ among schoolchildren are nothing more than pranks gone out of control? Pranks that were meant to distract from the pressures of final exams and ended up triggering some PTSD problems  in others.

  • nini

    What if they are telling the truth and they did see the creature, as described?

  • When they offer up evidence one of us will write up that story.