The Lightning bird or Impundulu or Thekwane (or izulu, inyoni yezulu) is a mythological creature in the folklore of the tribes of South Africa including the Pondo, the Zulu and the Xhosa. The impundulu (which translates as "lightning bird") takes the form of a black and white bird, the size of a human, which is said to summon thunder and lightning with its wings and talons. It is a vampiric creature associated with witchcraft which was often the servant or familiar of a witch or witch doctor, attacking the witch's enemies. It is said to have an insatiable appetite for blood. It is said to sometimes take the form of a beautiful young man and seduce women.
The bird 
Among certain African tribes the Hammerkop is believed to be the lightning bird. Among others the lightning bird is believed to manifest itself only through lightning, except to women, to whom it reveals itself as a bird. In these instances the bird is of imaginary nature and may take several forms. In one instance a village girl described a black rooster-like bird that ran up her hoe and left claw marks on her body before it flew back to the clouds. In other instances it is described as having iridescent feathers like a peacock's or a fiery red tail, bill and legs.
Its powers 
The fat of the bird is believed to be of significance either as the fuel that the bird sets on fire when it throws down a lightning strike or as a component in valuable traditional medicine. The fat is believed to be procured by catching the bird at the moment when the lightning strikes the ground, or by digging the bird up from an underground cavity at the spot. The bird is furthermore believed to lay a large egg underground at the location of the lightning strike. This may be a good or bad omen that may require digging to procure or dispose of the eggs.
Cultural significance 
In most instances the tribe's witch doctor plays the essential role in dealing with the lightning bird. A supposed extract from the bird's flesh may for instance be prepared into a remedy for tracing thieves. In this way the witchdoctors may exert control over the minds of both law abiding and criminal members of their society.
See also 
- Jȩdrej, M. Charles; Rosalind Shaw (1992). Dreaming, Religion and Society in. BRILL. p. 155. ISBN 90-04-05243-7.
- Berglund, Axel-Ivar (1975). Zulu thought-patterns and symbolism. C. Hurst & Co. p. 49. ISBN 0-903983-48-6.
- Werner, Alice (1968). Myths and Legends of the Bantu. Routledge. p. 223. ISBN 0-7146-1735-0.
- Blatch, Nicky (2005-11-07). "Killer’s belief in omens, spirits led to attack on toddler". The Herald. Retrieved 2007-10-25
- Miller, Penny; Rosemund Handler (1979). Myths and Legends of Southern Africa. T. V. Bulpin. ISBN 0-949956-16-3.
- Beukes, Lauren (2004). Maverick: Extraordinary Women from South Africa's Past. New Holland Publishers. p. 194. ISBN 1-77007-050-8.
- Curran, Bob (2005). Vampires: A Field Guide To The Creatures That Stalk The Night. Career Press. p. 175. ISBN 1-56414-807-6.
- Myths and Legends of the Bantu, Alice Werner, 1933
- Bird-Lore of the Eastern Cape Province, Rev. Robert Godfrey MA, Witwatersrand University Press, 1941
- Lightning Bird: An African Adventure, Lyall Watson, 1982. Description of Adrian Boshier's adventures