The Tokoloshe

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:10

When I was twelve years old, I remember the day my mother asked me to take a lunch tray of soup and crackers to our maid who was sick in bed with the flu. I had never been into our maid’s room before, and after knocking on the door I entered with the caution borne of unfamiliarity. What immediately caught my attention was the height of the bed. The legs were placed on four large paint cans so that it stood a good three and a half to four feet off the ground. Never one to be backward in coming forward I said, “Why is your bed stuck up on these paint cans?” The moment I’d asked I knew I’d crossed a line. Our maid’s fear was as tangible as the tray I was still holding. Then with a whispered reply she said, “Utokoloshe.” Before I could ask what Utokoloshe was she had whisked the tray away from me and turned her back in dismissal.

Mystified, I immediately asked my mother what Utokoloshe was. Her reply was that it was some kind of an evil spirit. In later years I discovered that the Tokoloshe was supposedly a small, hairy, and beast-like creature in African folklore that takes malicious pleasure in causing damage and distress. According to some accounts it can be called up by the sangoma (witch doctor) to persecute or punish a particular individual or household.

In later years I met a number of folk within the black community who had their beds raised so that the Tokoloshe couldn’t reach them while they slept. The Tokoloshe is one of the unsolved mysteries of Southern Africa. Some evidence suggests that many years ago the sangomas would steal new born babies and rear them in small cages. On limited food and restricted by the bars of the cage the children would grow up deformed and dwarf like. The sangomas would then use these “Tokoloshe” for their own evil ends.

Whether the Tokoloshe were once living human beings or whether they are some kind of evil spirit like the poltergeist is not the point of this meditation. The purpose of telling you about the Tokoloshe is to remind you that Satan uses all manner of means to hold people in bondage. He will stop at nothing. Whatever device Satan can harness to deceive humanity he will use.

Which is why Ephesians 6:10-18 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

In addition, remember to pray for the many folk in Africa who are gripped by fear, exploited by the sangomas, and desperately in need of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.

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