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Artist’s rendering of the Tokoloshe

The Tokoloshe, also called Tikoloshe or Hili, is a small unknown animal appearing in Zulu mythology. This primate-like creature inhabits the nations of South Africa and Lesotho. It is said to be fast, and somewhat ghost-like. It supposedly loves curdled milk. Its violent nature has put fear into locals. Reports claim that the Tokoloshe will try to choke their victims. It is supposedly withered and grey and has long bony fingers. It has a hole in its head and is small.

Legend

Another explanation is that the Tokoloshe resembles a zombie, poltergeist, or gremlin, created by South African shamans who have been offended by someone. The tokoloshe may also wander, causing mischief wherever it goes, particularly to schoolchildren. Other details include its gremlin-like appearance and gouged out eyes. They are supposedly animated during a ritual in which a sangoma (traditional African wizard/witch) thrusts a hot poker into their forehead. The Tokoloshe, according to the Zulu shaman Credo Mutwa, has been known to take on many forms. One form is as described above, but others have portrayed the Tokoloshe as being a bear-like humanoid being. The tokoloshe is said to attempt to disrupt communities and break up relationships by generally harassing the people living there. Activities the tokoloshe is known to perform include raping both men and women, beating up or choking people while they sleep and repeatedly stealing things such as items of clothing.

Many Zulu and Tsonga people (and people from many other southern African cultures) are still extremely superstitious when it comes to things like the supposedly fictional tokoloshe—a hairy creature created by a sangoma.

According to legend, the only way to truly destroy a tokoloshe is to find and destroy the muthi left by the sangoma which gives the tokoloshe its power. Muthi is a catch-all term for traditional African medicine, but the muthi supposedly used in the creation of a tokoloshe involves a selection of oils, herbal balms and the body parts of various animals. This mixture is them buried close to the house of the person the sangoma wishes the tokoloshe to attack. Preventative and pacifying measures against the tokoloshe are much easier to do, and may involve the scattering of special blessed salts around doorframes and windowsills. These salts come dyed in various colours and are referred to as ‘tokoloshe salts’. But by far the most famous way to ward off a tokoloshe is to place bricks under the legs of one’s bed. However, this will only protect the person using said bed, as it may instead cause havoc not involving said person. In 2009 there were many widespread cases of a female human-sized tokoloshe who claimed to have the name "Livashni". This has yet to be dismissed as a hoax.

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