An example of a 'femme fatale'
Image: Cottonbro Studio

The concept of the 'Red Thigh Woman' has recently gained traction on social networks such as TikTok and X. However, many may be unfamiliar with its significance.

Allow us, at, to provide you with insights:

Traditionally within the Kikuyu community, "Red Thigh" denotes a cultural and traditional practice associated with female initiation ceremonies.


This ceremony also referred to as "Njugu-ini" or "Njuiru-ini," signifies the transition of young girls into womanhood, representing a significant rite of passage in the community.

In the "Red Thigh" ceremony, a red substance, often crafted from a blend of ochre and other natural materials, is applied to the thighs of young girls.

The red color symbolises fertility, maturity, and readiness for marriage. The ceremony serves as a cultural expression of the community's values and beliefs regarding femininity, marriage, and societal roles.


The application of the red substance is accompanied by rituals, teachings, and celebrations led by elder women in the community, aimed at preparing the girls for their roles as women, wives, and mothers.

However, in the contemporary Kenyan context, the term Red Thigh has acquired dark connotations, associating women with the term as femme fatales and bearers of misfortune.

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

The mythology surrounding these women suggests that they carry a malevolent curse or ominous spirit, bringing a grim fate to any man entangled with them, whether through sudden illness or accidents.

For instance, the Ethaga clan in Murang’a County was believed to harbor these perilous women, locally known as Gitune, signifying ‘red spot.’

Interestingly, the women themselves may remain oblivious to their curse until a series of mysterious deaths follows several failed marriages or relationships.

Despite being described as charming beauties and magnets for romantic pursuits, there is no external indicator to identify their cursed nature.

Remarkably, this affliction also extends to men. In male cases, those men are usually exceptionally handsome and attract women who unknowingly fall prey to the same sinister cycle.

Similarly, women who cohabit with these men face untimely and inexplicable deaths.