The praying mantis in Namibian folklore


  • Sigrid Schmidt


This essay discusses the character and importance of the praying mantis among the Khoisan peoples of Namibia. It provides an analysis of interviews made between 1972 and 1997 among Nama and Damara people in Namibia. It aims to clarify misunderstandings and to come to an objective estimation of the debates about early Khoisan religion and practices. It builds on discussion in an earlier article, in 1973, and now continues on the main topics: the name ‘hottentotsgod’ and its development from pre-Christian times to present-day pejorative connotations; the insect in oracular use and as an omen, particularly in connection with rain; and the |Kaggen of the Bleek and Lloyd collection, the mythological trickster of the stories and the lord of animals in |Xam folk belief. The statements of present-day Nama and Damara people are complemented by references from further Bantu and Afrikaans sources from southern Africa.



How to Cite

Schmidt, S. (2018). The praying mantis in Namibian folklore. Southern African Humanities, 31, 63–77. Retrieved from