The Agogwe is an alleged humanoid creature native to East Africa. It supposedly lives in the dense forests of north-central Tanzania.
Reports of the Agogwe have also come from Mozambique. Alleged eyewitnesses describe the creature as hairy and bipedal.
According to George Eberhart in his Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology (2002), the name (Agogwe) comes from the Kuria and Chagga languages spoken in northern Tanzania. However, the meaning of the word is uncertain.
The Agogwe is similar to other alleged humanoid creatures, such as the Kakundakari or Kikomba, allegedly native to Congo.
Captain William Hichens, who reported sighting the Agogwe in the early 20th century, described it as a human-like (humanoid) creature that walked on two legs (bipedal).
Hichens said the creatures looked like little men with long arms.
Agogwe are about 4.5 feet tall
The Agogwe is about 4-5 feet tall and covered in brown or reddish-brown hair. It also has reddish brown skin beneath the fur, according to Robert W. Benjamin in his book Unkown Creatures (2011).
It has small canines and a rounded forehead.
The creature’s foot is about 12 centimeters long. The toes are opposable, meaning that the Agogwe make the digits of its feet touch like the fingers of the hand.
Agogwe understand trade by barter
According to northern Tanzanian folklore, the Agogwe are intelligent beings and understand trade by barter.
East African villagers told Hichens stories about the Agogwe. According to one account, a farmer could get them to hoe and weed their farm overnight by offering ntulu beer and food.
The little creatures eat the food and pay the farmer in kind by hoeing and weeding all night.
Sightings and Tales
Agogwe sightings are rare because they live deep in the forests and avoid contact with humans.
However, many natives claim to have sighted the Agogwe. East Africans have passed down accounts of the humanoid creatures for many generations. They shared the stories with European explorers and naturalists who visited their communities in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Although alleged sightings are rare, a few Europeans claimed to have sighted them. Two of the best-known accounts come from Captian William Hichens and Cuthbert Burgoyne.
Captain William Hichens
The British colonial administrator Captain William Hichens reported in an article for Discovery in 1937 that he encountered the Agogwe in the forests of north-central Tanzania.
Some sources claim the encounter occurred in 1900.
Hichens went to the forest to track a man-eating lion.
While waiting in a hiding place for the man-eater, he saw two small creatures with brown hair emerge from the forest. They walked across the clearing and entered the bush on the other side (see a description of the Agogwe in the previous section).
His African companion, a native hunter, watched them cross the clearing with excitement and awe. He later told Hichens that the creatures were the Agogwe and that sightings were rare.
Hichens wanted to see the creatures again. So he expended considerable effort searching for them where the native said the Agogwe lived. But he never sighted them again.
Hichens concluded that the creatures might have been well-known primates such as monkeys, baboons, and gibbons. But he believed they were not common African primates, such as baboons (genus Papio) or colobus monkeys.
Another European, Cuthbert Burgoyne, reported sighting the Agogwe in 1927.
In a letter to Discovery in 1938, Burgoyne said he and his wife sighted the Agogwe while sailing in a Japanese cargo boat along the coast of Portuguese East Africa (modern-day Mozambique).
The boat was sailing very close to the shoreline, and they were observing the coastal forest through field glasses (binoculars).
They saw a baboon troop hunting on the shore for fish and crabs. He and his wife observed the group with interest because two individuals had pure white coats.
[Note: Pure white baboons have a condition called albinism, caused by the absence of melanin. Melanin is a group of natural pigments produced in cells known as melanocytes. They are responsible for dark pigmentation.]
But as they watched the troop, two creatures emerged from the bush.
Burgoyne had never seen creatures like them before. They were human-like. He estimated their height at about 4-5 feet. They walked gracefully upright like humans, according to Burgoyne.
He was excited about the sighting because he was sure the creatures were not ordinary primates, such as monkeys, chimpanzees, or gorillas.
Later, he shared his experience with a European who told him of a similar sighting while traveling in Portuguese East Africa on a big game hunting expedition.
The hunter said he saw a family of creatures composed of a mother, father, and child walking across a clearing in the forest.
He was armed with a gun and wanted to shoot, but the natives entreated him not to.
According to Robert W. Benjamin in his Unknown Creatures (2011), Charles Cordier, a naturalist, reportedly sighted an Agogwe in East or Central Africa in the 1950s.
Cordier reportedly found the creature caught in a bird snare that he had set. But before his assistants could approach and help, the animal broke free and escaped.
Cordier recalled that the creature fell after being caught in the trap. But it sat up quickly, removed the noose from its feet, and escaped before his native assistants could help.
Zoologists and cryptozoologists have sought an explanation of Hichens’ alleged sighting of Agogwe in a forest clearing in north-central Tanzania.
A possible explanation is that he mistook ordinary primates, such as monkeys, chimpanzees, or gorillas, for bipedal humanoids.
Some primates sometimes walk on their hind legs but usually with some difficulty.
Tanzania has a variety of monkey species:
Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)
Blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis)
Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas)
Golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti)
Red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus Ascanius)
Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis)
Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji)
The grey-cheeked mangabay (Lophocebus albigena)
Tanzania also has several species of baboons, such as:
The Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)
Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus)
East Africa also has the eastern chimpanzee, a subspecies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii).
Many cryptozoologists favor the theory that the Agogwe could be a species of gibbons (family Hylobatidae) because they also have rounded foreheads and canines.
Some cryptozoologists, including Bernard Heuvelmans, proposed that Agogwe could be the last surviving members of a genus of hominids known as Australopithecus.
Anthropologists believe Australopithecus lived about 4-2 million years ago during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene epochs in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Fossil evidence suggests they were about 4-5 feet tall and weighed between 30 and 55 kilograms (66 and 121 lb).
That makes them about the same size as the alleged Agogwe from Tanzania.
Some researchers believe that they used crude stone tools.
Australopithecus species include A. Africanus and A. Afarensis.
Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, Eberhart, George M. (2002).
https://web.archive.org/web/20100125021502/http://www.strangeark.com/reprints/beasts.html, “African Mystery Beasts,” by Captain William Hichens (1937). Discovery, accessed on March 16, 2023.
https://www.google.ca/books/edition/Unknown_Creatures/7AYXAgAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PT2&printsec=frontcover, “Unknown creatures: Over 50 of the most documented creatures of Crytopzoology,” Robert W. Bejamin (2011).