The name may sound amusing but to many people it represents fear, hatred rape and torment. This creature is more than a myth – it’s a belief and it’s always out there – waiting for its chance!
Apparently half man – half woman, Pinky Pinky is a creature whose origins may date back centuries to a time when it was known to the Zulus as the “Umdlwenguli Obomvu”.
Today she, or perhaps he, is a creature that has migrated to the cities and makes regular appearances in African townships from one end of South Africa to the other. Sightings tend to happen in clusters and Pinky Pinky is usually found hiding in places where young girls are likely to be alone such as school toilets or at the edges of rural woods.
At best, this creature is a molester of prepubescent and pubescent girls and, at worst, a savage, murderous, rapist. Pinky Pinky is almost unknown in “white” South African society which is often, but not always, dismissive of such claims. However, for young African girls this creature is much more real and believable. It’s a terrifying figure that features often in nightmares and occasionally in reports of sexual abuse. Both pre and post apartheid authorities have, at times, taken reported sightings of Pinky Pinky very seriously. Headmasters have closed schools to protect their pupils from this so called “myth”. Official police investigations have been carried out to ascertain if “there really might be something to this ‘bloody’ Pinky Pinky business.”
Descriptions vary but those that are consistent describe a pink-skinned, feminine man, of late middle age who dresses in a mixture of both male and female clothes. If a person surprises this creature then they can see its face which is human but ugly, mottled and often bald. If it sees a person looking then its features blur so that all someone can see are two pink-coloured eyes. Its alleged victims say that it tries to corner a girl and then speaks to her in a musical woman’s voice and asks if the girl “will play” or “be friends” with Pinky Pinky”.
Other versions claim that Pinky Pinky will tell the girl all about herself and where she came from but the girl can never remember exactly what she was told. Pinky Pinky then demands payment for her story. If the girl cannot pay then she is abused or even raped by the monster. In most cases Pinky Pinky only shows herself to girls that are on their own. It is for this reason that many teenage African women insist on visiting public toilets with other women.
Very little has been written about Pinky Pinky although a group of students from AFDA in Johannesburg did start to make a film about the creature in 2005 using a vacant building at the UNISA (University of South Africa) campus in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Source: Debashine Thangevelo, Tonight, September 26, 2005, Independent News and Media.
Today Pinky Pinky is generally believed to be an “urban legend” that emerged as a result of political unrest and social anxiety. The rape and abuse of women and pubescent girls is still unacceptably high in South Africa and it would be understandable for this fear to focus on a particular “monster” such as Pinky Pinky. To put this in context:
“A study by Interpol, the international police agency, has revealed that South Africa leads the world in rapes. A woman was raped in South Africa every 17 seconds. This did not include the number of child rape victims. It was estimated that (during their lifetime) one in every two women would be raped. Between 28 and 30 percent of adolescents reported that their first sexual encounter was forced.” Source: Rape statistics South Africa – 9 January 2008, www.rape.co.za.
However there is an even older and darker element to the creature Pink Pinky. Journals of 19th century settlers and explorers of Africa often record the tales of strange beasts and creatures still unknown to science.
After discussing the Pinky Pinky creature with a number of African South Africans it seems that the legend and belief originated from three sources that have become entwined. The first source of the story lies in albinism – a genetic disorder that manifests itself as a lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. These “pink people” were, and still often are, seen by African culture as abnormal and slightly magical. Sadly, many of these unfortunate people have been subjected to terrible atrocities due to their condition. As recently as December 2008 the British Newspaper, The Sun, ran a story entitled: Welcome to Albino Island” and proceeded to explain that a refuge for African Albinos had been established on Ukerewe Island in Tanzania. The article begins:
“With their milky white skin, wispy hair and haunting, pale eyes, they are called “the living ghosts” by locals. And the vulnerable albinos of Tanzania in East Africa have more than insults to fear. They are being hunted down and hacked to death to satisfy a growing demand for their body parts and blood to use in black magic. It is the stuff of nightmares.”
Some evidence suggests that in many places throughout Africa albinos were driven from their families and made to establish a nomadic existence on the edges of society. These people were forced to survive by whatever means possible and in the process may have become the forefathers of the Pinky Pinky creature. Living Ghosts!
The second source starts with the arrival of “white” explorers and settlers in Africa the legend and fear appears to have convulsed into a new form. There is no doubt that the powerful newcomers often (but not always) abused their position of power and ran their farms in the manner of feudal chieftains. It was not unusual for a young African maid to find the middle-aged owner of the farm (or his sons) creep into her room and demand his rights.
The third source refers to hermaphrodism. This is a genetic condition that results in a person having both male and female genitalia. These people are far more common than mainstream information channels suggest. The genetic diversity of the people of Africa is vast when compared to the relatively narrow genetic ancestry of those from the West. (See the Post Ice Age Bottleneck for more information) Unfortunately, hermaphrodism was often seen as just as abhorrent as Albinism. These are the true African Transsexuals and it is a subject that is still considered taboo in many African cultures.
Finally, it would seem that headmasters of schools in the troubled townships of South Africa deliberately resurrected the Pinky Pinky / Tokeloshe myth to try and make sure that vulnerable young African girls between the ages of 6 and 16 always travelled together in groups thus drastically reducing the potential for assault and abduction by the Tsotsi gangs that had become so prevalent during the 1980’s and 1990’s. So great was the overarching fear of violence at this time that Pinky Pinky became a lightning rod for all that was wrong with Apartheid South Africa and occasionally resulted in believable mass hysteria.
Pinky Pinky may or may not be a real creature but there is no doubt that young African women have a great deal to fear from assault, abuse, rape and other forms of personal violence. So do albinos and it is tragic that two such vulnerable groups should be entwined in such a strange paranormal manifestation.
One observation worth making is that the ‘alien abduction’ phenomena peaked during the late 1980’s. Across the world countless individuals came forward to the media with claims that they had been kidnapped by aliens usually described as grey or pink humanoid figures. Not surprisingly these people were treated with more than a little suspicion and in some cases quite cruel ridicule. UFO crazies, lunar loonies and X-file nutters were all some of the terms used to describe them. However, there are some similarities between the Pinky Pinky hysteria and these so called abductions. The aliens were transgender, the abduction often involved sexual aspects, the aliens would explain what they were doing but the subjects could never remember what they were told, there was often extreme pain and it was usually single individuals that were taken from remote locations. The two paranormal phenomena may have absolutely nothing to do with each other but the similarities are just a little bit creepy.