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Kikuyu ‘red thigh women’: Myth or Reality?

Whispers of their existence have circulated in hushed tones for centuries, shrouded in tales of curses and malevolent powers. These enigmatic women, often referred to as femme fatales, have long been a subject of fascination and fear, with stories painting them as sexual vampires and bringers of misfortune.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Kikuyu community, where they are known as ‘atumia a ciero ndune,’ translated as ‘women of the red thigh.’

The lore surrounding these women suggests that they carry a sinister curse or malevolent spirit, one that condemns any man who becomes entangled with them to a grim fate, be it through sudden illness or accidents. Speaking to Mwangi Wa Muciri, an elder in the Kikuyu community, he insists that identifying these women is not as straightforward as one might assume.

Muciri concedes that these women are often described as exceptionally beautiful and charismatic, qualities that make them irresistibly attractive to men. In a time when people identified themselves by clans, it was easier to recognize these femme fatales and warn men against associating with women from specific clans.

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For instance, the Ethaga clan in Murang’a County was believed to harbor these dangerous women, known locally as Gitune, meaning ‘red spot.’ Astonishingly, the women themselves might remain oblivious to their curse until a string of mysterious deaths follows several failed marriages.

The red spot, according to Mwangi, is a symbol of danger, and marrying such a woman is considered a taboo, as it is believed to bring a curse upon the clan. This curse is said to be intergenerational, affecting husbands who perish one after the other in rapid succession after cohabiting with these women.

While these women are termed charming beauties and magnets for romantic pursuits, there’s no external indicator to identify their curse. Mwangi suggests that these women ultimately lead isolated lives as stories of their deceased husbands spread throughout the villages.

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Interestingly, this mysterious affliction also extends to men. Mwangi noted that the male counterparts are exceptionally handsome, attracting women who unwittingly fall prey to the same sinister cycle.

Similarly, women who cohabit with these men meet untimely and inexplicable deaths. These men, too, lose at least four wives before finding one who survives.

According to the elder, during intercourse, the partner with the red spot drains energy from the other, rendering them weak and potentially leading to strange ailments and, ultimately, death.

Surprisingly, Mwangi revealed that these individuals indeed have a red spot on their inner thighs or private parts, which gives rise to the name. However, the origin of this phenomenon remains a mystery, with some speculating it is linked to a malevolent spirit. In the past, witch doctors, known as ‘Andu ago,’ conducted rituals to cleanse the victims of this curse.

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Mwangi asserts that even today, such individuals exist, but the modern urbanized lifestyle and individualism have made it challenging to identify these traits among people. He acknowledges that numerous factors contribute to premature deaths, making it difficult to establish clear connections.

The enigma of the ‘Red Thigh Women’ continues to perplex and terrify communities, leaving them to grapple with the age-old question of whether these cursed women are indeed responsible for the tragic fates of those who dare to love them.

According to some Kenyan critics on Reddit, this myth is true and is not only limited to Kikuyus, but goes beyond the African horizon.

OldManMtu; The femme fatale is not just a Kikuyu thing. It is a global thing. Look up Lola Montez or read the book Arrow of the Gods. It is an idea that certain women are bad luck.

Acceptable-Mousse537; Its true My mom has shown me a woman in our neighborhood, she recently moved upcountry after the death of her fifth husband, my mum says she had those red thighs My mum has known her for 20 years,3 different marriages all husbands dead.