Custom – South Africa

The Zulu population of South Africa used to believe in the Tokolosh. This
”character” used to scare them horribly.

My mother, Robyn, has personal experience in that a lady by the name of Margaret Gama who used to work for her family in Johannesburg was very fearful of the Tokolosh as an evil doer. It was a custom that she followed to raise her bed by inserting bricks underneath her bed. Seemingly she believed this would help keep her out of reach of the Tokolosh.

Robyn, herself thought this to be a myth but the hold that this character had over the Zulu population was so immense that it was a frequent worry for them.

I had not heard of the Tokolosh until recently and I do not believe in the validity of this creature. However with the Zulu population, they are taught from generation to generation that the Tokolosh exists. Therefore it makes sense that they would all believe so strongly in this creature. When one is taught something from such a young age and have it enforced throughout the rest of one’s life there is not reason to think differently. We have certain beliefs that are based off the way our friends, family, and culture think.

Additionally although the name and supposed physical appearance of the creature is unique many groups of people believe in evil or magical creatures. Many people will wear cloves of garlic around their necks or simply have garlic in their rooms as they believe this will shield them from evil spirits or from vampires. The Oracle Education library listed some additional protection methods including using hawthorn and mountain ash (rowan). Additionally they found that “Some believe that the scattering of seeds is also a good defense because the vampire would become so involved in counting every single seed that they would allow its target to escape.” (Oracle Education Foundation) Some of these methods of protection seem absurd but in some cultures these seems like perfect measures in order to instill protection.

“Vampires.” Unseen Creatures: an Introduction to Creatures of Myth and Legend. Thinkquest – Oracle Education Foundation. 27 Apr. 2008 <>.