The agogwe is a purported small human-like biped reported from the forests of East Africa. It is 1 to 1.7m tall with long arms, long rust coloured woolly hair and is said to have yellowish-red skin under its coat. It has also been reported as having black or grey hair, however these may have been bonobo. Its feet are said to be about 12cms long with opposable toes. Alleged differences between it and known apes include a rounded forehead, small canines and its hair and skin colour.
The first recorded sighting was in 1900 by a Captain William Hitchens who reported his experience in the December 1937 edition of Discovery magazine thus: "Some years ago I was sent on an official lion-hunt in this area (the Ussure and Simibit forests on the western side of the Wembare plains) and, while waiting in a forest glade for a man-eater, I saw two small, brown, furry creatures come from dense forest on one side of the glade and disappear into the thickets on the other. They were like little men, about 4 feet high, walking upright, but clad in russet hair. The native hunter with me gazed in mingled fear and amazement. They were, he said, agogwe, the little furry men whom one does not see once in a lifetime."1
When Hitchens was criticized and ridiculed, Cuthbert Burgoyne wrote a letter to the magazine in 1938 recounting his sighting of something similar in 1927 while coasting Portuguese East Africa in a Japanese cargo boat. They were close enough to shore that they could view the beach using a "glass of twelve magnifications" they watched a troupe of Baboons feeding and… "As we watched, two little brown men walked together out of the bush and down amongst the baboons. They were certainly not any known monkey and yet they must have been akin or they would have disturbed the baboons. They were too far away to be seen in great detail, but these small human-like animals were probably between four and five feet tall, quite upright and graceful in figure. At the time I was thrilled as they were quite evidently no beast of which I had heard or read. Later a friend and big game hunter told me he was in the Portuguese East Africa with his wife and three hunters, and saw a mother, father and child, apparently of the same species, walk across the further side of the bush clearing. The natives loudly forbade him to shoot." Without the quote, an account of Mr. Burgoyne's making such a report is given in Bradley, M. (2003). Esau's Empire..
Charles Cordier, a professional animal collector who worked for zoos and museums, followed the tracks of the kakundakari in Zaire in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Once, said Cordier, a Kakundakari had become entangled in one of his bird snares. "It fell on its face," said Cordier, "turned over, sat up, took the noose off its feet, and walked away before the nearby African could do anything".2
The agogwe is also known as the Kakundakari or Kilomba in Zimbabwe and the Congo region. About 1.7m tall and covered with hair, they are said to walk upright like humans.3
In the Ivory Coast it is known as the Sehite.4
"In Tanzania and northern Mozambique, they speak of the Agogure or Agogue, a human-like, long-armed pygmy with a coat the colour of fired earth. Although its appearance is said to be grotesque, the Agogue is said to be more mischievous than menacing."5
In another part of the world, in Sumatra, there have been reports of a diminutive bipedal ape for at least 150 years. This cryptid is called Orang Pendek.
If the agogwe does indeed exist, it could be a surviving species of Gracile australopithecine, a bipedal primate known to science from approximately 2.5-4.5 million years ago. Australopithecine footprints did have a somewhat diverged toe (although far from opposable), but the overall height and the rest of the description fit. At any rate, the Australopithecine foot could conceivably have changed over several million years.
Another, albeit unlikely, theory is the possible survival of gibbons in Africa. Gibbons are lesser apes and are small, tail-less, with rounded foreheads and small canines. The biggest problem with this theory is that gibbons rarely walk on solid land and mainly locomote with their arms. It should be noted, however, that they are certainly capable of walking on the ground, and, when they do so, walk on two legs.
Another possibility is that a chimpanzee has adapted towards open country and has filled an Australopithecine-like niche.6