(Art by Victor P Corbella)
Eloko (plural: Bikolo)
Origins-Mongo tribe (Congo) Zaire
Eloko (pl, Biloko) is a term in a Mongo-Nkundo language referring to a kind of dwarf-like creature that lives in the forests. They are believed to be the spirits of ancestors of the people living there. Legend has it that they haunt the forest because they have some grudge to settle with the living and are generally quite vicious. Biloko live in the densest and darkest part of the rain forest in central Zaire, jealously and ferociously guarding their treasures: the game and the rare fruits of the forest. Only intrepid hunters are said to enter the deepest forest and survive, because in order to be successful, hunters have to possess strong magic, without which they would never see any game at all. There are many tales about wives who insist upon joining their husbands in the forest only to faint as soon as they see their first Eloko. The Biloko live in hollow trees and are dressed only in leaves. They have no hair; only grass grows on their bodies; they have piercing eyes, snouts with mouths that can be opened wide enough to admit a human body, alive or dead, and long, sharp claws of which they rub their large potbellies to cast their evil magic. They possess little bells, which, in Central Africa are believed to be able to cast a spell on passers-by. Possessing an amulet, talisman or some type of charm can offer protection from this type of magic.
A typical Eloko tale:
One day a hunter took his wife, at her insistence, into the forest, where he had a hut with a palisade around it. When he went out to inspect his traps, he told her: “When you hear a bell, do not move. If you do, you will die!” Soon after he had left, she heard the charming sound of a little bell coming closer, for the Eloko has a good nose for feminine flesh. Finally, a gentle voice asked to be let in to his room. It was like the voice of a child. The woman opened the door and there was an Eloko, smelling like the forest, looking small and innocent. She offered him banana mash with fried fish but he refused: “We eat only human meat. I have not eaten for a long time. Give me a piece of your arm.” At last the woman consented, totally under the spell of the Eloko. That night, the husband found her bones.