To most people outside South Africa in developed countries, our life here must seem bizarre. After all, nowhere in Europe or the United States would you drive your children to school and see that the country’s largest newspaper, the Daily Sun, has got “Terror of the gay Tokoloshe” as its frontpage story for the day.
Probably you do not even know what a Tokoloshe is. Ever since I was a child I was intrigued to see that most black people in South Africa, especially women, place their beds on bricks. Apparently if one’s bed is high enough, the Tokoloshe cannot reach you while you are sleeping. So from my earliest years as I became aware of the peculiar differences between blacks and whites, I was brought under the impression that the Tokoloshe played an important role in the lives of blacks.
More black people in South Africa use so-called “traditional medicine” than the Western kind. The government has even institutionalised witchdoctors which are now called “traditional healers” or simply “healers”. At one point I read somewhere that one might also claim from health insurance for visiting a healer who will give you a concoction called “muti” that might contain all kinds of bizarre ingredients. In the northern parts of the country, there is even traffic in human body parts for making “strong muti”.
Being Africans of a slightly different kind, we Afrikaners jocularly refer to the more regular Eurocentric medicine that we take as “muti” too, especially to children. “Come on, drink your muti,” one would tell one’s son or daughter, referring to cough mixture or a tablet made by some branded pharmaceutical company.
Sometimes we Afrikaners call our children “Tokolos” as a term of endearment. Otherwise, we often joke about the Tokoloshe, saying things like: “The Tokoloshe is going to catch you.” But of course, unlike black Africans, we lack any real belief in his existence. To us he is merely a mythological creature like Zeus or Spiderman.
Wikipedia has a few lines on the Tokoloshe, but it mostly omits his sexual proclivities. From what I remember, the Tokoloshe especially preys on single women as they are more likely to be amenable to his advances, especially in dreams. It is also through one’s dreams that the ancestors communicate to the living. Normally, witchdoctors or sangomas or nyangas as they are also called, are “called” by an ancestor to their profession.
I once heard a story of an African investment banker in Johannesburg being called to become a witchdoctor. He went missing for six weeks and arrived back at the bank with an animal bladder on his head. Afterwards there was some discussion as to whether he could discuss corporate finance with clients while wearing the bladder, which he was not allowed to take off.
The Daily Sun’s story has a charm of its own and is in a way politically correct. No doubt it will speak to people for whom gay rights are a burning issue as even the little African incubus may be gay, it seems. Considering that there is currently a whole hullabaloo in the United States about the Republican senatorial candidate’s petite phrase about “legitimate rape”, “the terror of the gay tokoloshe” brings a whole new dimension to discussions of rape.
According to the Daily Sun’s report, Mr. Isaac Malope (51) has already spent R200 000 (about $25 000) on muti to defend himself against a gay Tokoloshe who comes to rape him every night while he is asleep next to his wife Constance Mazibuko (43).
Isaac Malope told the Daily Sun’s reporter, Alex Nkosi: “Every night he comes between me and my wife and rapes me over and over. When he leaves, I no longer have energy for my wife and even if I try to get an erection, nothing happens.
The only time when I manage to get an erection is if I fast for seven days and ask God for it. But it only lasts for a day and then it is back to hell. I have been to many different sangomas but they have failed to solve the problem.”
Mr. Malope has even travelled from South Africa to Nigeria to consult a well-known prophet there, to no avail.
The couple are now asking the Daily Sun’s readers for help, giving the following number in Pretoria to dial: 012 424 6251.