Darrell J. Pursiful

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Yumboes: Senegalese Little Folk


Wolof type by Edouard Riou

Yumboes are part of the Wolof folklore of Senegal. These beings are also called bakhna rakhna, “Good People.” They are described as about two feet in height, and of a pearly-white color. (White skin is often a property of supernatural beings in African beliefs). They also have silver hair.

The “Good People” attach themselves to a chosen family and love and care for them. When a member of that family dies, they develop great compassion for the grieving family members and try their best to lament them. It is also traditional that the Yumboes dance upon the grave of the deceased victim.

The Yumboes live beneath the Paps hills, three miles inland from Goree Island, and come out to dance in the moonlight. They feast on large tables, served by partially invisible servants (only feet and hands are visible). They invite both natives and foreigners to their feasts.

The Wolof say Yumboes live just like people. They have been spotted at night in their fishing boats hoping to catch a late snack. They bring this fish to the land in search for some fire to roast it. Unlike humans, the Yumboes do not make their own fire but they steal the burning wood of campfires from human natives but they only take as much as is needed to roast their fish. They are also very fond of corn, which they also steal. Yumboes are very fond of plum wine. When the wine turns sour, they drink it with great joy until they become very drunk. In such a drunken state they sing loudly, make much noise by beating on drums and generally acting wild.



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