Protection from the Tokolosh


Graham Giles grew up in Zimbabwe, and immigrated to South Africa at the age of Sixteen, where he lived for most his life, until immigrating again to the United States in 2012.

Original Script:

“Okay, so they put bricks under their bed, because they believe that the Tokolosh – the Tokolosh is like this evil little spirit right? He’s like this evil little um… you know like the Irish believe in the Leprechaun, he’s like this evil little spirit and that and he… and um obviously he’s under the bed and, and so what you do is you put the bed up on bricks so he can’t reach up and get you, you know what I mean? And that’s why the guys are also from.. you know they come up to the bed and, I don’t want to say they jump onto bed from a bit of a distance but you know what I’m saying to you? So they’re all raised, so you’ll find even well educated people put a couple of bricks under their bed, under the foot of the bed you know what I mean? Just to raise it up off the ground so the Tokolosh can’t grab you. So the idea is that the Tokolosh is this little bad… evil spirit. He’s a little evil guy: causes problems, causes whatever, and he’s evil. So obviously you walk into your bedroom, under your bed is this little dark space – that’s where you’re going to find a tokolosh, you know?”

Informant’s Background Knowledge and Relationship with this Piece:

When asked where he learned the story, Graham just said that he can’t recall any one single person telling him about the Tokolosh, just that it was widespread, common knowledge in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and that many people fully believe in this Tokolosh, and raise up their beds for safety.

Thoughts About the Piece:

The Tokolosh seems akin to the Boogey Man, who lives under children’s beds and comes out to get them in the dark. However, while the Boogey Man is typically associated with childish fears of the dark, the Tokolosh represents a threat that even adults take seriously. From my own knowledge, I know that the Tokolosh is blamed for a whole host of problems: if something goes missing and the owner is certain that they did not lose it, he might say that it was the Tokolosh sewing trouble.