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Khoikhoi mythology

This is a summary, in alphabetical order, of some of the gods, heroes and monsters that appear in the beliefs of the Khoikhoi, an ethnic group from southern Africa.

Gods and Heroes

Gaunab/Gamab/Gauna

Known as Gamab to the Haukoin and Gauna to the Bushmen, he is the supreme god of the Khoikhoi. As a god of the sky, he resides in the heavens above the stars and shoots arrows down to the mortals of earth, killing them. This also makes him a god of fate and death. An alternative Khoikhoi sky god was Utixo.

Gunab

The god of evil.

Heitsi-eibib/Heitsi

One of the most famous heroes, he was the offspring of a cow and some magical grass that the cow ate. He was a legendary hunter, sorcerer and warrior, who most notably killed the Ga-gorib (see below). He was also a life-death-rebirth figure, dying and resurrecting himself on numerous occasions; his funeral cairns are located in many locations in southern Africa. He is worshipped as a god of the hunt.

Tsui/Tsui'goab

Tsui is a god of sorcerery and sorcerers. He is also credited with being the god of rain and thunder.

Monsters

Aigamuxa/Aigamuchab

A man-eating, dune-dwelling creature that is mostly human-looking, except that it has eyes on the instep of its feet. In order to see, it has to go down on its hands and knees and lift its one foot in the air. This is a problem when the creature chases prey, because it has to run blind. Some sources claim the creature resembles an ogre.

Ga-gorib

A legendary monster who sat by a deep hole in the ground and dared passers-by to throw rocks at him. The rocks would bounce off and kill the passer-by, who then fell into the hole. When the hero Heitsi-eibib encountered Ga-gorib, he declined the monster's dare. When Ga-gorib was not looking, Heitsi-eibib threw a stone at the monster and hit it below its ear, causing it to fall in its own pit.

In an alternate version of this story, Ga-gorib chased Heitsi-eibib around the hole until the hero slipped and fell inside. Heitsi-eibib eventually escaped and, after a struggle, was able to push the monster into the pit.

Gorib is "the spotted one" (meaning leopard, cheetah, or leguaan) in Central Khoisan languages, so the Ga-gorib probably has some connection with this formidable species. The element "ga-" remains to be explained. Possibly, it is a negative, "not-a-leopard", not only on comparative morphological grounds, but also because its adversary Heitsi-eibib has many symbolic connotations of the leopard, such as rain, stars and speckledness.

Hai-uri

An agile, jumping creature who is partially-invisible and has only one side to its body (one arm and one leg). It eats humans and is comparable to the Tikdoshe of the Zulu people and the Chiruwi of Central Africa.

Bi-blouk

An alternate, female version of Hai-uri.

References

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