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Mngwa, an Eastern African Legend


What is a Mngwa?

The mngwa’s name means “The Strange One” in the Swahili language, but the mngwa is also sometimes called the Nunda. Mngwa is pronounced “MING-wah” and is known to be a large cat with dark gray fur and black stripes and spots like a brindled tabby. The mngwa has large razor-sharp claws, huge shearing teeth, and bright yellow eyes. Legend says it’s bigger than a lion and deadlier than a leopard. Moving silently the mngwa hunts humans at night and has to this day never been caught. It’s been told the mngwa is so large it could kill an adult human with one bite and one swipe of its paw.


The Legend of the Mngwa

The mngwa is known mostly by Swahili hunting songs and it’s known to terrorize fishing villages on the East coast of Africa. The earliest mention of the mngwa was from a song in 1150. This big cat is known to leave mangled bodies behind with tufts of gray fur clutched in their hands. Large wounds from the claws and punctures from its large teeth are also left behind.

In the 1920s a British Colonial officer named Captain, William Hichens claimed to have seen and written about an attack from a mngwa. He said he saw the bodies of the natives mangled with the gray fur in their hands. These natives are ones who regularly chase lions but are terrified of the mngwa.


Where does the Mngwa live?

The mngwa lives on the East coast of Africa, near Tanzania and Kenya. For some fishing villages, the mngwa would terrorize them and hunt the people living there. The attacks would start suddenly and last for about a month, then stop just as sudden.

It’s said that as far back as 700 years ago natives would organize large hunting groups to go search for the mngwa but never found anything. Modern-day searches have also been conducted to locate the mngwa but nothing has ever been found.

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Photoshoped tiger to have the colors of a Mngwa

Photoshoped tiger to have the colors of a Mngwa

Could Mngwa be real?

Many people do believe the mngwa could be a real creature. Some think it could be a rare subspecies of the African tiger or leopard. Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans suggested it might be a color morph of an already known big cat species. Other people simply think it’s a myth and the creation of the imagination.

I personally would like to believe the mngwa is a real animal, possibly a color morph of a big cat or even a subspecies.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Bhavesh Shah from Mumbai on September 29, 2020:

The fact that some animals still specifically hunt for humans is surprising. I have seen on Youtube that some African regions are still terrorized by these wild cats.

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