Khoisan God


Lifestyle of the Bushmen by Andy Maano, (2017).

'Lifestyle of the Bushmen' from "African People at Work", uploaded by Andy Maano, (2017).

Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0


The identity of Heitsi-Eibib (also known as Heise, Haiseb, or Haitse-aibe) varies across Khoekhoe mythology: he was either a demi-god or a mortal who was deified after death.[1] In either case, he lived as a rich and powerful chief, known for his skill as a hunter, seer, and trickster.[2] He died and was reborn many times before ultimately being deified as the god of hunting.

According to legend, Heitsi-Eibib began life as a patch of grass. After a cow ate that grass, he was born from the cow in the shape of a bull.[3] Heitsi-Eibib then wandered through the wilderness, where he knew the names of all the animals. His wife was a gemsbok (a type of antelope); together they had two children, who were born half-human and half-antelope.[4]


  • English
  • Phonetic
    [hey-TSEE-ey-BIB]/heɪ.tʃi: eɪ.bɪb/

Heitsi-Eibib Defeats Ga-Gorib

Bushmen armed for an expedition by Samuell Daniel (1804).

Bushmen armed for an expedition from 'African Scenery and Animals', by Samuell Daniel (1804).

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain

One of Heitsi-Eibib’s best-known myths involves his defeat of the monster Ga-Gorib. This monster used to sit on the edge of a deep pit and challenge anyone who passed by to try and throw a stone at his forehead. But each time a passerby obliged him, the rock bounced off of Ga-Gorib’s head and killed the thrower. Their body would then fall into the pit.

One day, Ga-Gorib challenged Heitsi-Eibib to attack him. Heitsi-Eibib agreed, but before he threw the stone, he drew Ga-Gorib’s attention to one side. As the monster turned his head, Heitsi-Eibib struck him behind his ear and killed him. Ga-Gorib then fell into his own pit.[5]

An alternate version of the story states that Ga-Gorib chased Heitsi-Eibib around the pit until the hero fell in. But Heitsi-Eibib managed to escape, and the battle continued until the hero had pushed Ga-Gorib into the pit.[6]



  1. Jan Knappert, African Mythology: An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend (London: Diamond Books, 1995), 107.

  2. Harold Scheub, A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), s.v. “H.”

  3. Jan Knappert, Namibia: Land and Peoples , Myths and Fables (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 113.

  4. Knappert, African Mythology, 107.

  5. Patricia Ann Lynch and Jeremy Roberts, African Mythology, A to Z (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010), 45.

  6. Lynch and Roberts, African Mythology, A to Z, 46.

Secondary Sources

  • Knappert, Jan. African Mythology: An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend. London: Diamond Books, 1995.

  • Knappert, Jan. Namibia: Land and Peoples , Myths and Fables. Leiden: Brill, 1981.

  • Lynch, Patricia Ann, and Jeremy Roberts. African Mythology, A to Z. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010.

  • Scheub, Harold. A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Mackay, Danielle. “Heitsi-Eibib.” Mythopedia, September 27, 2023.

Mackay, Danielle. “Heitsi-Eibib.” Mythopedia, 27 Sep. 2023. Accessed on 13 Dec. 2023.

Mackay, D. (2023, September 27). Heitsi-Eibib. Mythopedia.


  • Danielle Mackay

    Danielle Mackay is a writer and scholar who received her MA in Classical Studies from Rhodes University in South Africa

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