A plastic sjambok similar to the ones used by South African police

A sjambok or litupa is a type of single-tail whip made of rhinoceros or hippopotamus hide, used in Africa, especially in South Africa. It is a very painful type of whip because it's comparatively heavyweight and stiff, and can break the delinquent's skin when used for corporal punishment.

A strip of the animal's hide is cut and carved into a strip 3 to 5 feet (0.91 to 1.5 m) long, tapering from about 1 inch (25 mm) thick at the handle to about 38 inch (9.5 mm) at the tip. This strip is then rolled (possibly between heavy metal plates) until reaching a near circular form. It is then soaked in salt for about a month. The resulting whip is as flexible as whalebone, and very tough.

The sjambok was mainly used for discipline in school/home or prison but was also reported being used for self defense against snakes and other wild animals when traveling in the bush/wild on foot.

A plastic version was made for the South African Police Service, which is used for riot control.

The sjambok in literatureEdit

Use of the sjambok for corporal punishment is mentioned, for example, in the novel The Power of One, where the protagonist, a then 5-year-old boy, is beaten with a sjambok in his boarding school for wetting his bed.

Mainstream films and spanking videosEdit

In the British television film The Happy Valley (1987), a 15-year-old girl in Kenya (1930s) is beaten cruelly with a sjambok.

Garden Party is a period-piece spanking video by Lupus Pictures set in the 1900s. Adele Haze plays a maid who is caned and then whipped 35 times with what appears to be a leather sjambok.


See alsoEdit