Updated: Feb 9
"I'm afraid there is nothing more I can do for him." Zuri’s sister closed her eyes and gave a somber shake of her head.
Even with the powers of her western medicine, she could not save their brother. She'd taught herself to read, worked for years to be accepted into a western college, all so she could return home to heal in the village, to teach the children to read, to teach him to appreciate another culture from another land, and most importantly, to renew his faith in his own culture, in the abilities of his people.
Oman had thought differently. He had seen her as an abomination, a traitor to their people, and a disciple of those who had raped Africa of its resources for their gain. To him, she was no better than the colonizers who had drawn the lines of nations on their maps, sectioning his tribe to a patch of desert devoid of living requirements. To Oman, Jalil had become a devil.
But he had forgotten the true devils. He had forgotten about the old ways their grandmother had taught him, Zuri, and Jalil, of those who'd cursed his people long before the white men arrived with their gargantuan ships.
Zuri remembered, and when Oman threatened to tear their family asunder, to rob their village of the first good thing it had had for years—of their own sisters' life and knowledge—he had made a pact. He'd cast his own life's blood into the sand to save his family and his people.
Oman was a necessary sacrifice, even should his death haunt Zuri’s shadow for the rest of his days. The man would have rid his people of the medical service, water, and food they'd been given. He'd have brought the wrath of the western powers upon them by shedding the blood of the white people he despised for the wrongdoings of their forebears.
"I'm sorry, Zuri." She reached out, touching his hand gently, and met his gaze. He nodded solemnly, knowing the curse he'd brought upon himself.
Over her shoulder, he caught the slight silhouette of the creature he’d made the deal with, a short, dark outline against the canvas of the medical tent. As she turned around, it scampered off. Zuri knew the Tokoloshe would be back later to take what remained of his brother's life. Then it would come for him.
"Care for the others," he said. "Even if something happens to me."
"I will always take care of our people, brother."
“I know. Thank you, Jalil." They embraced, and as if in his mind he was also in the distant desert, he heard maniacal chuckling from the creature’s foul, guttural throat.
My friends, don't make deals with demons like Zuri did. Even the ones who appear relatively weak can get you into lethal trouble. The Tokoloshe, goblin/demon-like figures of African folklore, are no exception to this rule.
These small but nasty creatures are said to have the power of hypnotism, mind reading, and even mind control. They bring bad luck and pestilence to those who they choose to haunt.
Often, Tokoloshe are said to come to a village as part of an evil pact seeking vengeance. Though, as with the use of any dark, supernatural force, there is usually an associated cost or negative side effect. Among their nastiest pre-dispositions, Tokoloshe favor the flesh of children, stealing them from villages in the night or luring them out into the wilderness, as these goblin-like entities are of similar stature to young children.
Tokoloshe are portrayed as having wide eyes, large, pointed ears, razor-sharp teeth and claws, and a hole in their forehead, which is plugged by bone or metal. Not exactly what I'd be looking for in a business partner, but to each their own.
If you're in the market for revenge, I suggest something more subtle than hiring a demonic entity of ancient African lore that might demand a child's life as payment. Still, you do you (this is not, for the record, any sort of endorsement for child sacrifice if that was unclear).
How much would you have to hate someone to bring down the curse of a Tokoloshe on them? What would you do if you saw a few of these little devils lurking around your house?
Do you know of any other fascinating African cryptids you'd like me to cover in this blog? Let me know in the comments!