The little people have been told and written about in many countries for hundreds of years. They have many names in many different languages; elves, fairies, dwarves, goblin or gremlins. They can be gentle and generous or mean-spirited and dangerous. Just like Ireland’s myth has ‘Leprechaun’ and Scandinavia’s myth has ‘Nornir’[1], Africa also has the little people called Abatwa as well. 

The word ‘Abatwa’ comes from South African’s mythology referring to small human-like creature, generally look exactly like primitive African tribes. In the ancient myth, Abatwa were born from, nature spirit, Vash`Nok’s tear that brust and fell to the earth[2]. Some believe that the word originally allude to the Twa people, also known as Batwa or pygmies who live in the Great Lakes region of Africa what is now Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is more credible because Twa people also have small stature, approximately 1.5 meters or only 5 feet tall[3].

Abatwa said to be the smallest human form creatures that exist in the world, about ½ inch height, small enough to ride on ants and hide beneath the grass blade. They live together peacefully with the ants in the anthill[4]. Although the myth has never mention how they deal with the ants, I think they’ve some kind of antennae similar to ants, so they’ll be able to communicate with ants and other small animals. Ant’s society is very unity and cohesion, they help each other and obviously distribute their duties and I think Abatwa might have an influence by the ants’ social structure including women role in the society. As you knew ants are a hierarchy society that rules by an ant queen and majority of the ant’s population is also female, therefore, I’ll not be surprise if Abatwa’s first president is a woman.


Because of their appearance, some cultures may confuse Abatwa with dwarf or fairy, even though there’re similar, unlike fairy or dwarf, Abatwa doesn’t have any magic power. In fact, they are nomadic with high hunter-gatherer skill. Abatwa are natural born hunter, despite their tiny body and peaceful personality, they can slay their preys several times larger than themselves with their tiny poisoned arrows1, which is very virulent, it can bring down small animals.

Abatwa is very shy creature and quite reclusive; they hardly reveal themselves in front of the humans. It said that they would only permit to be seen by children below the age of four, wizard and pregnant woman. It also said that seventh-month pregnant woman will give birth to a boy if she saw a male abatwa4.


Due to their tiny stature, Abatwa is extremely sensitive about their size, which is only their weak point. If someone mention or make fun of their size, Abatwa will strike them to death with poisoned arrows. From the folktale, if the traveler unexpectedly encounters Abatwa, they will ask the traveler, “From where did you first see me?”1 The traveler must answer that he first saw them from the far away. If the traveler replies that he just saw them right in front of him, Abatwa will hunt him down.

To sum up, Abatwa is an African’s myth creature that has very tiny perfect human form. It refers to Twa people, native tribe in Africa. Even though they’re shy and peaceful, they are born hunter-gatherer. Their ultimate weapon is deadly poisoned arrow. Abatwa can be vindictive and extremely dangerous if one mention about their size. You may found them near the anthill or under the blade of grass but don’t step on them if you don’t want to taste their lethal venom arrow.

[1] Allen, J. (2005). Fantasy encyclopedia. Massachusetts: Kingfisher Publisher.

[2] Bulya. (2012). Abatwa. Retrieved Jun 4, 2012, from http://dragonwarriors.wetpaint.com/page/Abatwa.

[3] Twa. (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved Jun 4, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/610821/Twa

[4] Abatwa. (n.d.). Retrieved Jun 4, from http://potofgold.uchicago.edu/infomain/abatwa/abatwa.html


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