Myths and Legends
Did you know?
In some South African cultures, the Tokoloshe is a dwarf zombie living in with witches.
From the sacred Lake Fundudzi with its mythical python and the Thathe Vondo Forest in the northern province of Limpopo, to Van Hunks and his puff of pipe smoke that makes the cloth on Table Mountain in the Cape, myths and legends in South Africa continue to enthrall visitors and locals alike.
Limpopo, the enigmatic land of the vhaVenda, also birthed the legend of the Rain Queen, Modjadji. It's one of the South African legends that is still ritualistically followed today. In KwaZulu-Natal, Howick, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Inkanyamba, who is said to be like a snake but with a horse's head, lives at the foot of the spectacular Howick Falls.
The Zulu people believe that only sangomas can approach the pool without being attacked by the creature. Much like the Loch Ness Monster, the myth is also shrouded in clouds of hearsay - the creature's been spotted and there are blurry photographs of him.
Near Coffee Bay, on the Wild Coast of the rugged Eastern Cape province, Hole-in-the-Wall is prominent in the spectrum of South African myths. It is of particular significance to the amaXhosa, who believe the Big Hole in a rocky outcrop was formed by a sea creature that smashed it open so a suitor form the sea people could get to a beautiful Xhosa girl.
Its Xhosa name, esiKhaleni, means the place of sound, because of the crashing-wave sound.
The Orange River which is the border between the Northern Cape and Namibia, is said to be the home of a giant river snake that traverses the underground water caverns. Nama tradition has it that the snake has eyes of diamonds and that one of its lairs is the bottom base of the Augrabies Falls.
In Cape Town, legend has it that a Dutch pirate, Jan van Hunks, had a smoking competition with a stranger who turned out to be the devil. When he was well on his way to beating the devil in the competition, thunder suddenly clapped, Van Hunks disappeared and the clouds of smoke they left became the table cloth that spills over the mountain when the south-easter blows.
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At the Fireside Volumes I, II and III by Roger Webster; South Africa Weird and Wonderful by Rob Marsh.