The Tokoloshe (Chapter 2) English Version

October 28, 2019

Credo Mutwa

There is not much documentation available to help us describe and characterize the tokoloshe. There is certainly much more to discover on the subject in the accounts of explorers and settlers. But what do the Africans themselves say?

If today we can find in the media of some countries such as Zimbabwe, or Mozambique, many articles on the tokoloshe and its supposed misdeeds, it is relevant to start from the ancestral wisdom, the oldest folklore. Concerning the Tokoloshe, there is a source, which if it has not been neglected so far has been rather under exploited concerning the tokoloshe.

I refer to the book Indaba my Children, an impressive collection of oral traditions from much of Africa. This reference work is the work of Crédo Mutwa, writer, poet, sculptor and especially sangoma, that is to say, South African wizard. His life itself resonates like a most epic legend.

Credo Mutwa

Credo Mutwa was born on 21 July 1921 in the South African province of ZuluLand in the region of KwaZulu Natal, in the east of the country, on the coast bordering the Indian Ocean. Her father is an extreme Catholic, and her mother comes from a family that has never been converted to include many sangomas, men or women. They take very bad this union with a fervent Catholic. The sangomas are soothsayers, seers, healers, exorcists, people supposed to come into contact with the ancestral spirits. They are supposed to have abilities and perform tasks similar or identical to the shamans of different cultures of the world.

Zululand is located north of Durban

To erase this outrage, the sangomas of Credo Mutwa’s family demand that he be raised by his father’s family, and thus cut off from all contact with traditional Zulu culture. But at the age of 16, Credo Mutwa is the victim of a violent aggression, which leaves him bruised and sick, he dies. His father, in the name of his faith, refuses to be healed by anything but prayers. At this time Credo Mutwa is beset by many visions, including that of King Shaka Zulu, who orders him to take the title of Vusamazulu, “the one who awakens the Zulus

Credo Mutwa finally joins his mother’s family in a slum in Durban. He is cared for by his Aunt Mynah, a sangoma, who recognizes in him a future sangoma, and during his healing Credo Mutwa learns from her the Zulu ancestral culture and everything you need to know to be a sorcerer. He is initiated after two years, which is very short, and he begins his life of Sangoma.

In the 1950s, he worked in an apartheid South Africa for an antiquarian in Johannesburg, on whose behalf he traveled across the country to authenticate African art. These trips allow him to deepen his knowledge of the folklore and traditions of his country.

In March 1960, he participated in marches of protest against apartheid, violently repressed, besides his close friend is shot by the police. With a broken heart, he concluded that violence can not be a solution, and he aims to explain the richness of his people’s culture in order to obtain respect and peace from whites. He then wants to “fight the criminal ignorance of the colonists with regard to the African populations

The Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960, 249 victims.

He convinces his boss, and missionaries, to finance the publication in 1964 of the 700 pages of Indaba my Children, a sum considered as the first and still today the only collection of oral tribal traditions, and the religious beliefs of the peoples. Bantu, which form a cultural and linguistic area from Cameroon to South Africa.

The book is still at the center of controversy, academics doubt the authenticity of certain legends, while Bantu reproach him for exposing to the eyes of all the most secret and taboo elements of their previously inaccessible culture. The foreigners. Credo Mutwa is no less a professional sangoma, respected by his peers, a remarkable writer, both poet and philosopher, but above all he is a free spirit. Several pages of Indaba my children are devoted to Tokoloshe.

Something needs to be clarified here that has never been explained before. All foreigners in Africa have heard of tokoloshe. But the image they have, if ever they have one, is that of a hairy creature, close to the man as the elves are, but who would live in the water, and would sometimes be charged by the Wizards terrorize people. This concept, like many others, is totally wrong. Similarly, anyone who sees the tokoloshe as a superstition should be cautious. The tokoloshe is not just the fruit of the imagination of these “superstitious savages”, as some “enlightened” Westerners have described the Bantu in the press. Many Bantu beliefs are fact-based, scientific, and tokoloshe is one of them. No one begins to believe in anything if there are no facts that in one way or another lead him to this belief.

Then Credo Mutwa tells the story of the creation of the first Tolokoshe, the invention of a sangoma, which will then be copied by all the other sangomas. This story is the story of the vengeance of Mulundi, a very old wizard, but powerful and cunning against, Kambela a bloodthirsty tyrant. Knowing that Mulundi was threatening him, Kambela (who had previously slaughtered Mulundi’s family) was sleeping in his hut surrounded by bodyguards. But while he was asleep, a slight noise woke him up.

When he opened his eyes, he saw the last thing he saw in his lifetime: a small stocky and oozing, demonic, masked and dressed in baboon skin, from which “the very essence of evil was emerging. A string tied around his neck hung the practically decomposed head of a woman. He had a bow with poisoned arrows in his hand, ready to use.

What he did and he killed Kimbela.

The first Tokoloshe had just hit. But who was he? what was he? This is how Credo Mutwa describes it: “A tokoloshe is not a ghost, nor a supernatural phenomenon. He is a perfectly real human being, who exists as part of what science has taught us. Mulundi had chosen a very small pygmy, and he had reduced his weight by means of a strict diet. But more than anything, he had managed to turn it into a zombie by simply altering the functioning of his brain. A very sharp punch can suffice. “

His small size and tiny weight allowed him to sneak into the tiny openings of the tyrant’s hut without arousing suspicion.   

For Credo Mutwa, the tokoloshe and Haitian zombie have so much in common. First of all, a sangoma causes the “false” death of an individual, which he will then look for in the grave. Several weeks later, the tokoloshe is sent to his first victim, who usually simply dies of fear. Subsequently, the Bantu wizards would have perfected the art of tokoloshe and began to shape them from childhood. According to him, in 1922, a gang of wizards, had set up a breeding of tokoloshe, in the mountains of Drakensberg, in Basutoland (Lesotho).

This is how Credo Mutwa describes the creation of a tokoloshe: When the white man, and the missionaries arrived, the killing of children born idiots or with cretinism ceased, and this led to a proliferation of these grotesque specimens of the ‘human race. But if ever one of these idiots disappeared, then nobody complained, especially not the parents themselves. Many, who eventually found themselves in the hands of sorcerers, especially girls. They trained them, reproduced with them, keeping them in dark cellars until the moment of delivery. Often in Basutoland (Lesotho) – the country of ritual killings, these children are born by cesarean section, without any consideration for the life of the mother. Remedies are then made from parts of his body, which are administered to his own child so that he grows up in a deeply harmful atmosphere. The baby was then raised by other captive women, fed with a mixture of bitch milk, donkey, cow, crows’ blood and vultures. From the age of 6 months, he undergoes transformations to adapt to his future missions: fixed on his back by straps, a piece of round wood deforms his spine, making it hunchback. In the same way, the legs were strapped to grotesque shapes as they grew up.

If the tokoloshe is raised in the hatred of others, he idolizes his master sorcerer. He then follows a curious apprenticeship: he is taught to climb the trees with his deformed limbs, to dig a burrow. He becomes expert in the many ways to kill someone, as much as in the way of completely erasing his tracks. At the age of 12, her tongue is mutilated to suppress any possibility of speaking. At this age, he represents a puppet as light as a feather in the hand of the wizard, a robot without any thought that will execute each order received, a creature that in the eyes of the one who raised and trained, to more of value than a herd of a hundred cows.

Credo Mutwa thus concluded this passage “tokoloshe literally means” the great mysterious evil “. No Bantu would represent it in a scupture. When a Bantu talks about tokoloshe, he calls it “the mysterious evil”, which means “mix up your stuff.

One aspect of the mythology around the tokoloshe is not addressed by Credo Mutwa, concerning the libido of the creature. Today, if tokoloshe continues to make headlines in some southern African countries, it owes it mainly to its alleged sexual crimes. Here again there is no mention of a simian being, of a furry primate in contemporary narratives. Yet some see in the tokoloshe, dwarven wild men. In the wake of the stories of colonists and explorers, crytozoology took a different look at the mystery posed by tokoloshe. We will explore the topic of tokoloshe as a cryptide in the next chapter

Source : Christhope Kilian

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