Picture of Fabio DeGouveia

Fabio DeGouveia

One of South Africa's most well-known folk tales, The Tokoloshe, revered across the country, finally gets the limelight on the Mzansi Minute.


Creepy Cryptids of SA: The Tokoloshe

South African Cryptids: The Tokoloshe

South Africa is a land rich in folklore and mythology, with a tapestry of tales woven into its diverse cultural fabric.

Among the eerie and mysterious figures that linger in the shadows of South African folklore, one stands out with a reputation for both fear and fascination—the Tokoloshe. In this exploration, we delve into the legend of the Tokoloshe, unravelling the threads of its eerie narrative.

The Tale of the Tokoloshe

The Tokoloshe is a creature deeply embedded in the cultural narratives of various South African communities, each with its own interpretation of this mysterious being. Common across many accounts is the description of a small humanoid figure, roughly the size of a child, with a grotesque appearance.

Often depicted as having a bald head, sharp teeth, and backward-facing feet, the Tokoloshe is said to be a mischievous and malevolent entity. Quite the nasty little thing if I do say so myself.

Origins and Cultural Significance

The roots of the Tokoloshe legend trace back to the belief systems of different, historical South African communities.

In the most common mythology, it is considered a supernatural being summoned by individuals with nefarious intentions, such as jealousy or revenge in a deal made by a person and a local witch doctor. The Tokoloshe is said to be invisible to most but can become visible when it chooses to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims.

Tokoloshe Newspaper Headline 1955
Tokoloshe Newspaper Headline 1955

Modus Operandi

The Tokoloshe is believed to have a range of eerie abilities, including shape-shifting and invisibility. It is said to enter homes through keyholes, causing havoc and nightmares to those unfortunate enough to cross its path. 

Protective Measures

Given the fear associated with the Tokoloshe, various protective measures are believed to guard against its malevolent influence. Traditional practices include elevating the bed on bricks to make it more challenging for the creature to reach the sleeper. In some instances, people place a brick under each leg of the bed as a precautionary measure.

Interpreting the Legend

As with many cryptids and mythical beings, interpretations of the Tokoloshe legend vary. Some view it as a cautionary tale, a symbolic representation of societal fears, or a manifestation of the consequences of ill will. Regardless of the interpretation, the legend of the Tokoloshe endures as a captivating and spine-chilling aspect of South Africa’s rich cultural tapestry.


The Tokoloshe stands as a mysterious and enigmatic figure in South African folklore, captivating the imaginations of those who dare to delve into its tales. Whether perceived as a supernatural force or a cautionary symbol, the legend of the Tokoloshe continues to cast its shadow across the cultural landscape of South Africa, inviting us to unravel its secrets and explore the realms where myth and reality intertwine.

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