Rhys Darby

Comedian Rhys Darby on life in New Zealand

Rhys Darby: When school lessons become a little hairy...

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Glimpse of African Agogwe adds to mystery of cryptozoology.

A supposed sighting of the Agogwe in Botswana caused mayhem at a school, with some kids fainting. Photo / AP
A supposed sighting of the Agogwe in Botswana caused mayhem at a school, with some kids fainting. Photo / AP

Well, it was only a matter of time ... but yes, I'm pleased to announce there's been another sighting of the Agogwe in Africa. For those of you unfamiliar with the wonderful world of cryptozoology, Agogwe is a small hairy hominid that has reportedly been seen roaming the forests of East Africa for centuries.

What makes this latest sighting even more astonishing is that the hairy little man was seen in Botswana, which is considerably further south than the origin of the usual reports in Tanzania. The cryptid was seen by some students from standard 6 and 7 classes at the Mathiba Primary School in Maun.

To say these students were upset would be an understatement. According to Botswana newspaper the Voice, some of the children screamed and ran amok while others simply fainted. The hysteria culminated in 10 students being treated for shock at the local clinic! The incident caused such pandemonium that the school had to close classes for the rest of the day and everyone was sent home.

It's my opinion that kids in general don't make good actors, so I believe what they saw was real. The question is what was it? I mentioned the Agogwe because it fits the description but there are actually many names for small human-type hominid creatures throughout Africa.

In the Congo they are known as kakundakari and in the Ivory Coast the sehite. Bernard Heuvelman, 'the father of cryptozoology', believed that these creatures, whatever the name, are the surviving species of Gracile australopithecine, a bipedal primate that existed approximately 3.5 million years ago.

These ancient primates were thought to share similar traits to modern apes and evidence of their footprints (found in Laetoli in Tanzania) dating back to 3.6 million years are remarkably similar to those of modern humans. Are these the missing link? Or are they as some suggest an unknown race of human pygmy?

Some of you may recall the discovery of what was nicknamed the "Hobbit" on Flores Island, east of Java in 2003. Partial skeletons of nine individuals were found and classified as a new species Homo floresiensis of the genus Homo, part of our own family tree.

Sophisticated stone tools were found next to the remains as well. These tools, considered appropriate for the 3ft (91cm) high beings were dated from archaeological horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago.

I'm off to Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. I'll be there on behalf of World Vision to support their Micro loan process. While I'm in Tanzania I plan to ask the locals their opinion on the mythical Agogwe. It's all very well reading news reports and cryptid books but nothing beats the horse's mouth.

I'm sure there'll be some interesting stories or eyewitness accounts to record and bring home. I've waited a long time to return to Africa but like Dr Bernard Heuvelmans said in 1988: "Cryptozoological research should be actuated by two major forces: patience and passion."

- NZ Herald

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