The Humps

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Birago Diop’s “The Humps”

Folk tales have served an important role in in the different cultures of human beings. They can be seen as a form of knowledge and education, as their ending morals influence a person’s attitude and behavior. In addition to acting as a moral guidebook, folk tales offer explanations of events or phenomena that cannot be explained through basic means. While Birago Diop’s African folk tale, “The Humps”, still offers a moral for people in the end, the folk tale focuses more on finding out an explanation for wonders in nature. The narrator tells a story, an explanation for the humps of Senegal (the Point of Alamdies). Through his story, he is able to give an interesting and detailed account of how they came to be, providing both a form of knowledge and entertainment. The story begins with the narrator and a young girl named Violet. From a distance, Violet notices the Points of Alamdies, questioning what made them so famous. The narrator is very confident in his reply, telling the story of Momar and his two wives, Khary and Koumba. Khary is Momar’s first wife. She has a minor hump on her back, and lashes her anger out on other people, “She could have filled ten calabashes with her jealousy and emptied them down a well, and she would still have had enough to fill ten times gourds in the depths of her coal-black heart” (2). Momar, who had been growing tired of having to work all day, decides to take his second wife, Koumba. Koumba also has a hump on her back, but much larger than Khary’s, described as it “exceeded all proportions of what a decent hump should be. When she turned her back you would have thought that there was a dyers pot holding up both her neckerchief and the calabash carried on her head” (3). However, Koumba was still friendly and sweet-natured, despite people being spiteful against her because of her outrageous hump. In addition, she was extremely helpful to Momar and Khary. Momar showed appreciation, but...
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