Tokolosh

Little People of South Africa.

Etymology: Zulu (Bantu) word; plural, Tokoloshe.

Variant names: Abominable veldman, Gi-likanqo, Hili, Thikolosh, Tikalosh, Tikolosh (Xhosa/Bantu), Tokkeloss (Afrikaans).

Physical description: Baboonlike. Height, 3-4 feet. Covered in hair, including the face. Long penis.

Behavior: Extremely strong. Speaks with a lisp. Wears animal skins for clothes. Said to be visible to children but not adults. Strong sexual appetite. Blamed for all sorts of mischief, from thefts to sexual infidelity and even poltergeist phenomena. Associated with witchcraft and black magic. People are said to acquire Tokoloshes and use them to steal grain from their neighbors.

Habitat: Banks of rivers.

Distribution: Mozambique; Zimbabwe; Northern and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces, South Africa.

Possible explanation: A mythical, supernatural trickster figure similar to the European Fairy, though more malevolent.

Sources: Monica Hunter, Reaction to Conquest (London: Oxford University Press, 1936), pp. 275-282; "Weird Hobgoblin Has Africans Scared," Durban Daily News, March 29, 1960, p. 10; "'Hairy Ghost' Haunts Hills of Wartburg," Durban Sunday Tribune, September 24, 1961; "African Wife Who Died after Citing 'Abominable Veldman,'" Folklore 71 (1960): 56-57; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les bêtes humaines d'Afrique (Paris: Plon, 1980), pp. 521-528; "The Little Creature with a Big Appetite," Johannesburg Weekly Mail and Guardian, December 15, 1995; Mkhululi Titi, "Woman Claims Tokoloshe Invasion," East London Daily Dispatch, October 2, 1998.

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