Amadou Hampâté Bâ

Translated by Daniel Whitman
With “Kings, Sages, Rogues: The Historical Writings of Amadou Hampâté Bâ”

Washington, D.C. Three Continents Press. 1988.

       Table des matieres      

Kaydara — Strophes 45-60

Taton ɓee worɓe ngonti no kaatineeje
gaɗaaɗe na taybinii ley gaabuguuru
Sawtini daande saatiri semmbe sanne 45
nde wii : « Ee mon onon ɓe ɓe fooyre nannyi!
Njehee naatee e toggere maamiraare
adiinde e caƴƴe kala fuu nokku keɓ-ɗon.
Lohee, ndiiwee, ndogee, nanngee ko keɓ-ɗon
ngaɗon ɗum kirse mooɗon duppoyaaɗe. » 50
Hammadi tawtinii Hamtuuɗo Demburu.
Ɓe corki e cooɓe ɗee fa ɓe njiiti yeendu,
ɓe mbari ɗum kutti naɓi ɗum faa e boowal.
Ɓe kuɓɓoy yiite mawnge ɓe tippoyii hen. 55
Ɓe toowti ɓe doomoyii faa rocca hanta.
Nde metangal nyaamunoo tew oo fa hanti,
ɓe nantoy sawtu goɗɗo na sonka sanne :
— « Ee mon Hammadi, Hamtuuɗo, Demburu,
sadaka mo ittu-ɗon oo kaa jaɓaama.
Jahaangal mon to yaamana-juuju leyɗe, 60

All three found themselves arranged like stones
in a triangle at the hearth 8.
Then a voice 9 was heard, a thundering voice:
“Oh you, there, whom the light fascinates so! 10
Go into the ancestor-forest
of the first hamlet of the lands you reach.
Hunt, run, pursue, catch 11 whatever game you find,v then slit its throat as a sacrifice.” 12
Hammadi joined Hamtudo and Demburu.
They beat the earth with sticks and flushed out an anteater, 13
killed it, dismembered it, brought it back to the crossing.
They lit a great fire, and threw in their catch.
There they waited for it to be consumed.
When the flame had swallowed the flesh,
they heard a voice that said forcefully:
“Oh you Hammadi! Hamtudo! Demburu!
The sacrifice you have just made is accepted.
Your journey to the country of the dwarf-spirits 14

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
8. Three roads; this is also an analogy of the hearth of the traditional African kitchen, for the hearth in question will serve as the “kitchen of knowledge.” The family kitchen, in addition, is a sacred site; and the mother's womb is called “the hearth where the infant cooks.” The three stones “are united by the great pot, like the father, the mother, and the child in the family,” the three irons between the stones of the hearth are like “the bank, the fruit, and the seed of truth.” Likewise here, the three men are united in adventure, in the common voyage, predestined fate dictated by the gods.
9. The voice of the voice-guide, which henceforth will not leave them; it is an emanation of Kaydara who draws them on and will send them back once he has given them gold. This voice will be distributed in the four elements.
10 Here the light was only a mirage, a backdrop. This is not where the interest lay.
11. For the adept must make the effort.
12 The victim must not only have its throat slit, but must be burnt over a slow fire.
13. A mysterious animal in that it lives on ants and termites; the termitehill is seen as a world (cf. Dieu d'eau of Marcel Griaule). Hunters therefore consider the termite-hill to be charged with occult power, with dangerous effluvia. In the same way, the head of the rabbit and that of the hyena are charged, as is the entire body of the owl.
14. For the Fulbhe, there are three countries:
• the country of light where all visible beings live - men, animals, plants;
• the country of shadows where the “hidden ones” (suuɗiiɓe) live, invisible beings, but subject to incantations; among those are the dwarfs, pygmy-spirits, which surround Kaydara; these are his servants, who often appear as little old men with long beards; they are only two elbow-lengths tall, but have enormous power; they are polymorphous and bear the name yaamana-juuju, as well as Baagumaawel;
• the third country is the land of the dead, and is plunged into a deep night; all souls live there, those of men as well as those of animals and plants; for everything that lives has a soul, and this is why an initiate will never cut down a tree needlessly, nor will he pick green fruit, for by doing so he risks “aborting woman.”