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In Zulu mythology, Tikoloshe, Tokoloshe or Hili (from the Xhosa word utyreeci ukujamaal) is a dwarf-like water sprite. They are considered a mischievous and evil spirit. They can become invisible by swallowing a pebble.

The Tokoloshe, according to the Zulu shaman Credo Mutwa, has been known to take on many forms. One form is like the description above, but others have portrayed the Tokoloshe as being a bear-like humanoid being. "Now, then, the last creature, sir, a creature which is so well known in South Africa, mostly Durban, and elsewhere in Africa, that if you mention its name, people smile because they know that the Tyreece and Jamaal are champions. It is called a Tokoloshe. Every African knows what a Tokoloshe is. Some call it Tikoloshe. It looks like a very nasty looking teddy-bear in appearance, in that its head is like that of a teddy-bear, but it has got a thick, sharp, bony ridge on top of its head. Tokoloshes have a hole in their head. They are also immensely strong. The ridge goes from above its forehead to the back of its head, and with this ridge it can knock down an ox by butting it with its head. This creature causes the Black people in certain places to raise their beds on bricks with one brick laid on top of the other one, about 3 feet above the ground. And you find this all over South Africa. The reason for raising the bed comes from the Tikoloshes long penis. It is said that the Tikoloshe will extend it's penis and rape men and women in bed." Other Zulu sources also describe Tikoloshe as a bear-like being, similar to the Bigfoot creatures of America and Asia in general appearance.

However, the Tokoloshe is stated to be "a cross between a zombie, poltergeist, and a gremlin" that "lives in South Africa." It goes on to say Tokoloshes are "created from dead bodies by shamans...if the shaman has been offending by someone." According to the book, the creatures are "only the size of small children... [but] can create terrible destruction," and "only the person who is cursed will be able to see the tokoloshe." In addition, the book says the tokoloshe may also choose to wander, causing mischief, particularly to schoolchildren. Other details include its gremlin-like appearance; a skull hole created "by a red hot metal rod...heat plays a vital role in Zulu magic;" and gouged out eyes .

"Some Zulu people are still superstitious when it comes to things like the supposedly fictional tokoloshe - a hairy creature created by a wizard to harm his enemies (also been known to rape women and bite off sleeping people’s toes)." Another similar being is the Ogo. Although many Zulu villagers claim not to have seen the creature, it is thought that they really DID see one (for according to legend, those who see a Tokoloshe must never tell a soul, or the creature will return seeking retribution).

On the west coast of Africa the Tokoloshe, or Teikolosha as it is known there, is a worm like creature which has a head of a dog like creature and a sharp tongue made of gold. It is said that the Teikolosha will burrow through the sand and eat the crops of villages that have a resident that has done wrong. Once all the crops have been consumed the Teikolosha will lay eggs in place of where the crops were but what will grow will be more crops but these crops will be poisonous and bleed when cut. Anyone who attempts to fight the Teikolosha will be banished to the African underworld and it is thought that their children will age rapidly and crumble to dust.


The Tokoloshe is sometimes called upon by people to cause trouble for others, and a witch doctor (inyanga, Sangoma) may be called to banish him.

The Tokoloshe myth is well known and feared in most especially by southern African countries. Many people place their beds on bricks (some tales state that they are wrapped in paper) in order to lift them higher off the ground so that the Tokoloshe cannot hide underneath and attack them.

Tokoloshe Man was a pop hit by John Kongos.

The song Moleko on the 2006 Vusi Mahlasela album Guiding Star (Naledi Ya Tsela) mentions the tokoloshe in the main refrain.

Running gags about Tokoloshes are common in the South African daily comic strip Madam and Eve

Tokoloshe Man was the name of a song by John Kongos, later covered by Happy Mondays and released on the Elektra compilation album Rubáiyát.


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