— To Kaydara leydi muuɗum kaawnoyiindi
walaa neɗɗanke waawoya darna hiɓɓa
fa anndina en nde wannoo maa ɗo wonnoo.
Yo caggal kaaƴe njoordii duuɓi seeɗa 15
tawi jinnaji asidii maaje tildii.
Hammadi ruuyti yehi daroyii e boowal,
nde oolol kanŋinoowol fooyni yeeso
hono ndee fooyre yaynata Laamɗo Ɗokko.
— It was in the mysterious, distant country of Kaydara
which no one can locate exactly
nor tell us when or where the story took place.
It was only a few years after the mountains had hardened 1,
when the world-forces were just finishing carving out the river beds 2.
Hesitating, Hammadi 3 advanced to a large crossroads 4 and stopped
at the hour when a soft golden glimmering shone on the horizon
like the aura that lights the One-Eyed King 5
Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
1. According to the genetic myth, the mountains were soft at the outset, like vegetable butter; but Geno (the God of creation, and Eternal) gave the power to the One-eyed King (the sun) to harden the mountains under the intensity of his gaze.
2. Indicates that the world is still under formation. Again according to the myth, Geno, having had the waterways carved out by the djinns, had them filled by water-carriers who revolted and were turned into clouds, condemned to wander. It is the water-carriers who give us rain, as they perpetually break their water jugs; and it is they who are pitilessly whipped by their jailers the winds, whenever thunder is heard.
3. Among the Fulɓe there is a double system of naming children. The one is secular, by which parents give the newborn the name they wish. The other is religious, and its code is the following: Hammadi is the name of the first son consecrated in honor of the god Ham; Sammba, the name of the second, consecrated to Sam; Demmba, the name of the third, consecrated to Dem; Yero, the name of the fourth consecrated to Yer; Paate, the name of the fifth consecrated to Pat; Njobbo, the name of the sixth consecrated to Njob and Deloo the seventh consecrated to Del. If it happens that a man has an eighth son, the series is started over and he is named: Hammadi-ɗimmo or the second Hammadi. These religious names are used in ritual ceremonies and initiations, as here. In fact, it is of some use to know, for the sake of understanding the text, that legendary heroes are divided into three categories: Hammadi, the hero prototype, the “stallion,” is known throughout his village; and any village he stops in is immediately aware of his having come; Hammadi-Harnmadi, the “stallion of stallions,” more worthy even than the first, is known throughout the village and country; if he travels neighboring countries soon learn of this: Hammanndof is the mediocre one, the botched; even his family takes little note of his absences and his host barely notices his arrival. To these three types of men correspond three types of women: Santalde, the good wife who sees to what her husband says; Mantalde has more initiative and intelligence and, “proprietress of the war drum,” waits for no one in finding her waythrough things; finally there is Mantakapus, who, when food is brought to her for preparation, lets it rot, and who complains and lets insults fly when nothing is brought to her; she is, in sum, the perfect shrew.
4. Fulɓe shepherds go by various paths. Whenever they come upon one another in a clearing, they name it “meetingplace of the crossroads” or residence (hoɗorde) and the site becomes sacred after a certain rite; the silatigi, who is an initiate of sacred things, enters in relations with the spirits of the site, whether in a dream, or by using specific plants; depending upon the density of the occult aspect of the site, it will become an encampment or crossroads meeting for two, three, four or more days. The rite will be performed on command of the spirit of the site: a spotted goat will be sacrificed, or a sheep or steer; the silatigi will have seen the animal in a dream or vision or else some event will have brought it to his attention; the revelation can also be performed on another member of the group; or the silatigi may interpret the cries or movement of the turtle-dove, for “she is the messenger of the gods and her heart is without aggressiveness.”
5. At the beginning of time, the sun was Geno's very eye. Then, when the creation was finished, Geno removed it from its socket to produce the “one-eyed monarch,” since his single eye was sufficient to see everything that occurs on earth and to heat and light it as well.