The Tokoloshe (Chapter 1) English Version

October 16, 2019


The Tokoloshe is a creature well present for many populations of Zulu culture or Xhosa, in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. It is hard to imagine how seriously this creature is taken, but there are many clues in the local press about its real or imagined presence, and the panic fear it still inspires today.

Here is what is said about him: He looks like a goblin, he is scary, he is a facetious and mean spirit, who can make himself invisible, he would have a special relationship with water. Malicious people use tokoloshes to harm others. At a minimum, a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but it can mostly cause the illness or death of the victim. Only a spiritual healer has the power to repel him.

The Daily Sun is the main tabloid of South Africa

There are also articles about tokoloshe in more serious newspapers in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

TOKOLOSHES, these creatures used by wizards, are at the heart of the Lowveld’s culture. It is widely accepted that one who possesses one of these bestial beings can get rich at the expense of others.

The tokoloshe – which looks like a baboon or a small hairy man with a long penis – is also known to have an insatiable sexual appetite and to satisfy this desire, he roams the night to rape unsuspecting women.

Last week, for example, two men from Marite village near Hazyview were expelled from the area. They admitted to having owned tokoloshes and using them to steal corn from their neighbors

The residents of Ohrigstad District say they have pursued a man from their village after finding evidence that he had kept a tokoloshe.

The wizard had approached a white farmer and suggested that he fire all black workers on the property because he could do his job alone. The farmer did it quickly but his curiosity was awakened. One night he visited the fields and found many of these little creatures who cultivated the land with his new employee as supervisor.

Social workers frequently receive complaints in this area from people who claim to have been raped by a tokoloshe. When a woman wakes up at night with moisture between her legs, she will probably believe she has been sexually approached by this supernatural being.

It is thought that each tokoloshe has a supernatural power called mashoshapansi – which makes it invisible. He can extend his penis indefinitely and pass it underground to the genitals of a sleeping or unsuspecting woman. The creature can also enter people’s homes through a slot in the door.

Many of my informants tell me that divorce – one of the biggest social problems in rural areas – is caused by tokoloshes that rape women of migrant workers. When a woman loses interest in her husband, this is often interpreted as the result of a rape committed by the tokoloshe.

According to a recent article by Isak Niehaus, an anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, tokoloshe is frequently associated with illicit and hedonistic sexual activity and the resulting social disruption.

Shock and distress seized the village of Vukuzenzele in Esigodini district, Esikhoveni region, after terrible revelations that a four-year-old boy, mysteriously disappeared four months ago, was in fact detained by wizards suspected of wanting to turn it into tokoloshe.

The chilling revelations were made by witch hunters known as tsikamutandas who went to the area for a cleansing ceremony last week at the call of the villagers.

This after an intense search by the villagers of Belinda Mlilo’s son, mysteriously disappeared on November 20, 2018. were made by witch hunters known as tsikamutandas who went to the area for a purification ceremony last week at the call of the villagers.

According to reports, Mlilo, a maid of the Mhlanga family, reportedly left her child on her way to a bush nearby to collect firewood. The boy mysteriously disappeared when he tried to follow his mother.

Our visit to the area on Tuesday afternoon revealed a dark atmosphere, after the tsikamutandas assured the villagers that the child was still alive, but was kept somewhere by local witches who wanted to turn it into tokoloshe .

A village elder, Paul Sibanda, said that the tsikamutandas had revealed that the child was alive, but that his language was missing, this information has plunged the community into horror.

“… They said the witches came from the area and they would identify them and confuse them at a cleansing ceremony in which they would rescue the boy. This is not the first time a child has disappeared in the village. Two years ago, another mysteriously missing child was later found with missing private parts, “Sibanda said.

“It’s a mystery,” said another neighbor, shaking his head in disbelief. (….)

Chief Njabulo Mguni also confirmed that the incident had strengthened Sibanda’s intuition, which had the idea of ​​appealing to witch hunters:

“It’s true, the child has disappeared and our research over the last four months has been unsuccessful. We now base our hopes on the prophets who went to our village for a cleansing ceremony and who claimed that the boy was still alive and that they were going to save him from where he is kept secretly. ”

Meanwhile, in 2016, a 13-year-old girl from Inyathi, Bubi district, in northern Matabeleland, shocked the community when she confessed to staying in an attic for four days with four so-called goblins and six neighbors during which they feasted on the flesh of dead people.

These items all portray a malevolent, human but deformed creature, guilty of sex crimes, and derived from the skill of local wizards.

But there is no drawing, no engraving, no sculpture, the locals never represent it for fear of attracting it, by superstition. Because there are never any happy encounters with a tokoloshe.

However in 2017, a series of photos is posted on the internet by a Mozambican. According to him, traditional wizards, sangomas, would have captured a tokoloshe who came every night to harass the women of their village.

Is it a real tokoloshe, or only a person disguised as for a carnival or drugged? Is it a folk festival or a more macabre scene? Nobody went to check, or investigate these photos, the interpretation is open. Even if it is a simple costume, a staging, the person here in the image has several characteristics lent to the tokoloshe, especially the small size, the false sex, (we do not distinguish language ). Moreover, observing, as much as possible, his nails, his hair, it can be deduced that he is an individual living on the margins of society and surrounded by sangomas.

We continue our exploration of the myth of tokoloshe, in the following chapter, in which we will try to find out more about its nature, through what the oral traditions of this region tell us about it. 

Source : Christophe Killian



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