Nǃxau ǂToma

Nǃxau ǂToma[a] (short: Nǃxau, alternative spelling Gcao Tekene Çoma or Coma; c. 1944 – 5 July 2003) was a Namibian bush farmer and actor who starred in the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy and its sequels, in which he played the Kalahari Bushman Xixo.[1][2] The Namibian called him "Namibia's most famous actor".[3]

Nǃxau ǂToma
N!xau 2003.jpg
Nǃxau in 2003
Bornc. 1944
Died5 July 2003(2003-07-05) (aged 58–59)
Tsumkwe, Namibia
Other namesNǃxau
Gcao Tekene Çoma
OccupationBush farmer, actor
Years active1980–1994


Nǃxau was a member of the San, also known as Bushmen. He spoke Juǀʼhoan, Otjiherero and Tswana fluently, as well as some Afrikaans.[3] He did not know his own exact age,[1][3] and before his appearance in the films he had little experience beyond his home. He had only ever seen three white people before being cast,[1] and when director Jamie Uys gave him his first cash payment of $300 for The Gods Must Be Crazy, he allegedly let it blow away in the wind because he did not understand its value.[4][1][3] (This was despite money already being a serious matter for other San, since many of them depended on purchased food and government aid and/or had enlisted in the South African Army due to the high wages it paid.[5]) He was, however, able to negotiate for near $500,000 for his appearance in the sequel.[6] He came from a culture that did not value the material things that money could buy and consequently had not learned money management skills,[3] although he used some of his income to build a brick house with running water and electricity for his family.[1] He also bought a used car and subsequently hired a chauffeur, as he had no desire in learning to drive.[4]

In addition to The Gods Must Be Crazy, Nǃxau starred in a series of sequels: The Gods Must Be Crazy II, Crazy Safari, Crazy Hong Kong and The Gods Must Be Funny in China. After his film career ended, he returned to Namibia, where he farmed maize, pumpkins and beans and kept several head of cattle (but no more than 20 at a time because, according to The Independent, without the complex farming systems of the "modern world", he had trouble keeping track of more).[1] The Namibian local daily New Era stated that he simply could not count further than 20.[2]

Nǃxau converted to Christianity and in July 2000, he was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist.[7][8]

On 5 July 2003, he died from multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis while he was out on an excursion for hunting guineafowl. According to official estimates he was about 58 or 59 years old at the time. He was buried on 12 July in a semi-traditional ceremony at Tsumkwe, next to the grave of his second wife. He had six surviving children.[3]


Year Title Role Notes
1980 The Gods Must Be Crazy Xi [4]
1989 The Gods Must Be Crazy II Xixo [4]
1991 Crazy Safari Nǃxau The Bushman [4]
1993 Crazy Hong Kong Xi [4]
1994 The Gods Must be Funny in China Nixau - Bushman [4](final film role)


  1. ^ The letter in his name that looks like an exclamation mark is an alveolar consonant in his native language of Juǀʼhoan. The spelling of his full name Gcao Tekene Çoma (in the orthography used from 1987 to 1994) suggests that it is a voiced dental click (normally spelled with gǀ, as in Gǀao ǂoma, in the modern orthography).


  1. ^ a b c d e f Vallance, Tom (10 July 2003). "Nǃxau: Kalahari bushman who became an international film star". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2009.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Shiremo, Shampapi (30 September 2011). "Gcao Tekene Coma: Internationally acclaimed Namibian film star (±1944–2003)". New Era. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tangeni, Amupadhi (11 July 2003). "Cgao Coma – bridging ancient and modern". The Namibian. Archived from the original on 31 July 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Nǃxau". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 November 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  5. ^ Volkman, Toby Alice (19 May 1985). "Despite the Movie, There's Little to Laugh at in Bushmanland". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  6. ^ "N!xau". IMDb. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  7. ^ Tania Calais. "God Isn't Crazy". Signs of the Times. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010.
  8. ^ Sebastian Tirtirau and Dan Serb. "Reaching the Unreached" (10 minutes in).CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) Michael Kunz's channel on YouTube

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