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Literature / Ansige Karamba The Glutton

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"Ansige Karamba, the Glutton" is an African folk tale first collected in the 1947 anthology The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories by Harold Courlander.

Ansige Karamba, an ill-tempered glutton, drives away his wife Paama with his continual complaints about her failure to keep up with his appetites. Wanting his wife and her cooking back, Ansige makes the trip to her village, where his constant eating causes problem after problem for him and the long-suffering Paama.


This tale includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Awful Wedded Life: Paama and Ansige's marriage is not a happy one. The patient Paama tries to keep up with her husband's insatiable craving for food and receives only complaints for thanks. After a while, she can't stand it anymore and goes back to her childhood village. When Ansige follows her there, Paama spends a lot of time cooking for him and making sure that his appetite doesn't bring down the villagers' wrath on him. Understandably, she refuses to return when he sends a servant for her later.
  • Big Eater: Ansige eats an extraordinary amount of food at each sitting. One day he eats a young goat by himself and then tries to steal the chief's sheep. On other days, he eats enough roasted corn and millet dumplings for twenty men and still wants more. Nothing ever satisfies him for long.
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  • Engineered Heroics: After finding that her husband has raided the neighbors' cornfields, Paama chases the livestock into the corn and tells the villagers that Ansige tried to stop the animals from eating the crops.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: A comedic example; after Paama makes millet dumplings, Ansige tries to lick the residue out of the mortar and gets stuck. Paama calls the villagers to help, claiming that her husband stuck his head in the mortar to "show her" after she accused him of being thick-headed.
  • It's All About Me: Ansige never thinks of anything besides satiating his own hunger. Even his desire to bring back his wife doesn't stem from love for her; it's because in her absence, he has to rely on the servants for food, and they give him worse quality food in smaller quantities than she did.
  • Ironic Echo: When Paama finds him in trouble, Ansige crossly tells her not to act as though she didn't know him. At the end, she refuses to return with the words, "Don't act as though I didn't know you."
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  • The Scrooge: In addition to being gluttonous and ill-mannered, Ansige is also quite stingy. He constantly accuses his servants of trying to cheat him while not giving them adequate wages.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Ansige falls down a well when he sets off for the village at twilight, carrying an armful of the villagers' corn. Paama comes to the rescue and frames the cattle for the damage.
  • Women Are Wiser: Paama spends most of the tale coming up with ways to extricate her ungrateful husband from the messes he creates because of his runaway appetite.
  • Your Favorite: Ansige especially likes millet dumplings and gets stuck trying to eat the meal out of the mortar.