Almost everywhere in Africa, there exist urban legends about femme-fatales; devastatingly beautiful women who ultimately bring disaster to men who get involved with them romantically.
In Nigeria, for instance, Author Elechi Amadi wrote about it in his novel The Concubine. In the book, Ihuoma is described as a stunning beauty worth dying for (pardon the pun). Men pant for her and fell over themselves, desperately trying to marry her. Unfortunately, all who got involved with her died under unclear circumstances.
Close home, among the Agikuyu community, for instance, some women from ethaga clan, in Murang’a County, are believed to be femme-fatales. Locals refer to them as gitune — Kikuyu word for a red spot, or atumia a chiero ndune, which loosely translates to women with red thigh.
Folklore has it that these alleged ‘sexual vampires’, despite being very beautiful and charming, are dogged with a ‘curse’ of sorts. They have a jinxed background, and it’s believed any man who marries or sires children with them dies mysteriously or tragically.
So dreaded are these women that recently, a village tycoon in left locals astonished when he reportedly offered a woman with the ‘red thigh’ he had impregnated a piece of land worth half a million shillings and Sh20,000 cash as inducement to abort, after a little bird whispered to him that she hails from the dreaded ethaga clan so as to prevent his imminent death!
In Laikipia County, a tale is told of a certain Nyokabi. Her first husband reportedly died after he was gored by a raging bull. She got married to another who was later abducted, only for his corpse to be dumped by the road side in a rural outpost.
Interestingly, she never gave up; she still got married. Unfortunately, all her subsequent three husbands died under unclear circumstances.
In Kiriaini, a small market tucked somewhere in Othaya constituency, Murang’a County, a woman surnamed Muthoni is a marked ‘sexual vampire’. It’s alleged she has the infamous ‘red thigh’ and rumoured to have ‘killed’ many men. Locals discuss her in hushed tones. That she is ‘hot’ further complicates the matter. “Those women are lethal. You touch her, and you are a goner!” avers Githinji, a friend to one of these writers. He goes on to give Muthoni’s account and how her four husbands died mysteriously.
Betty, a business lady in Kiambu Town, says she knows one such a woman — a retired barmaid. “Men were warned against her. She was very beautiful and men used to fight over her during her heyday. Unfortunately, all those who get romantically involved with her die. She is now old and men are no longer interested,” says Betty. “I personally know two men, involved with her, who died in tragic road accidents,” she adds.
Peter Ngure, a matatu driver in Nakuru, says women from this clan are deadly. They allegedly have a red spot in their inner thighs. “You never can tell one by looks alone. These women are known as man-killers though they look absolutely innocent,” he says.
Erastus Njuguna, a welder in Bahati, Nakuru County, says he knows of one such woman. “She had been married twice with both of her husbands dying mysteriously. Each did not last a year in the union before meeting his unfortunate end,” he says. The woman, he adds, was warned against getting married again by her parents as she was a ‘husband killer’. When word leaked out that she was a gitune, men now shun her.
“To save face and escape shame, she relocated from the village with her whereabouts now unknown,” says Njuguna.
Different people have varying opinions about these women. Some have argued that they are mere victims of male chauvinism. Take Timothy Kamau, a Nakuru-based doctor, for instance. He believes stories about this clan are all hogwash. He argues there could be a variety of reasons to why a person in seemingly good health can die from, but not because of some ridiculous spot that could very well be a birth mark.
“Why is it autopsy results of supposed victims of these women show cause of death as something medically explainable?” he poses. He believes the red marks could be a result of genetic alterations and may have nothing to do with a supposed victim’s death.
“Medically speaking, I haven’t heard of such thing as a death being attributed to a mark or spot on body of another person,” he says. He wonders what is so special with men from this clan that their wives do not die mysteriously as men who marry some of the clan’s women. “It defies logic. All I can say is these are superstitious beliefs watered by a people’s fertile imagination,” he says.