Yumboes - Senagalese fairies

Yumboes are supernatural beings in the mythology of the Wolof people of Senegal, West Africa. They closely resemble European fairies. Their alternatively used name Bakhna Rakhna literally means good people, an interesting parallel to the Scottish fairies called Good Neighbours. They were spiteful creatures, and tended to steal food from humans as revenge for crossing them. They also had intrinsic magical power, and could vanish at will.

AFRICAN HISTORY STORYTELLING

deangichuki

5/27/2022 2 min read

green-leafed trees during daytime

What was your first encounter with fairies and elves? Mine was Harry Potter, I remember I hadn’t bought a TV yet so my laptop was my go-to screen at the time. I was still in school, room sharing, so in order to avoid distracting my roommate, I had to watch it listening in through my earphones. The horrors! I was too stunned to watch the second one. I often wondered though, what is the inspiration for writers to create such beings that are to my knowledge, nonexistent. Well, apparently, the truth is closer home than I had imagined.

Yumboes are supernatural beings in the mythology of the Wolof people of Senegal, West Africa. They closely resemble European fairies. Their alternatively used name Bakhna Rakhna literally means good people, an interesting parallel to the Scottish fairies called Good Neighbours. They were spiteful creatures, and tended to steal food from humans as revenge for crossing them. They also had intrinsic magical power, and could vanish at will.

They are two feet tall and colored silvery white from head to toe. They are believed to be the spirits of the dead, and attach themselves closely to human families. They live underground, beneath hills called the Paps. There are many hills named Paps across the world, so-called because they resemble the shape of a woman's breast.

Though the Yumboes have luxurious dwellings where they invisibly host amazing feasts they eat by stealing corn from the humans and carrying it off in calabashes and fish (which they catch on their own). They invite both natives and foreigners to their feasts.

Yumboes' status is never stated, though it is likely they are considered Beings.

There are plenty of stories of spirit lore in Senegal. There are the jinné, derived from the Arabic jinn. People of Wolof and Lebou ancestry have a tradition of protective ancestor spirits, the "rab," or evil beings, "doma." Closer to the "little people" archetype is the konderong or kondorong. Like most elves and dwarves of Africa, the konderong are no more than two feet tall, with feet turned backwards. Their beards are incredibly long, and they often wrap them around their bodies to serve as clothes. They can be rascally or dangerous, and serve as guardians of the wild animals.

How fascinating is that?