The Khoikhoi are indigenous peoples of southern Africa who speak the Khoisan language. They were formerly known as theHottentots, a name given to them by Dutch settlers that means “stutterers.” This name is probably a reference to the clicking sounds that are prominent in the Khoisan language.

The Khoikhoi have a rich tradition of hero and monster tales that are worth noting by storytellers who are hunting for authentic ethnic stories.

Deities

Gamab is the supreme god, a god of the sky who lives in the heavens. When humans are meant to die, Gamab shoots fatal arrows to strike them down.
Gunab is the god of evil, who does whatever he can to destroy humankind. Tsui is the god of rain and thunder. He is also the god of sorcerers.

Monsters

Aigamuxa are man-eating monsters that stories say may be encountered among the dunes. Their eyes are located on the bottoms of their feet. When they want to see around them, they have to get down on their hands and knees and hold up one foot. This gives afast runner a chance to escape.

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The Ga-gorib is the “thrower-down” monster. Stories say he perched on the edge of a great pit and dared humans to hit him with a stone. This was a trick, since the stones would never harm the Ga-gorib but would recoil with killing force on the human. The corpse would then fall into the pit. The hero Heitsi-Eibib finally slew the Ga-gorib.

Hai-Uri has only one side, with one leg and one arm, and he is almost invisible. Hai-Uri gets around by jumping over obstacles and is swift enough to catch unwary humans.

Heroes

Heitsi-Eibib is a mythic or culture hero, said to be the son of a cow and the magical grass that the cow ate. Heitsi-Eibib was a great magician, a patron of hunters, and a superb fighter. One of his feats was defeating the monstrous Gagorib.

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In one version of the story, Heitsi-Eibib distracted the monster before throwing the stone that slew it. Another story claims that during a wild chase Heitsi-Eibib slipped into Ga-gorib’s pit but managed not to fall. He pulled himself back up and wrestled with Gagorib until he hurled the monster back into the pit. According to the stories, Heitsi-Eibib was killed on numerous occasions but always was able to resurrect himself.

Storytellers willing to take the time to better understand the Khoikhoi culture are certain to find more rich materials for their stories from these strong, enduring, and fascinating people.