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 100-125

Ɓe ɓetti ɗe konnunoo kala ɓiɓɓe Aada. 100
Ɓe peƴƴoy togge cukke ɗe cuumtoyaaka.
Ɓe saami e feeyo yoorngo waɗoyngo koɗɗoy;
engo nii daɗɗoyii faa kaaddi yitere.
Walaa keccol; e ley ngoo huunde yiyataa
so naa taw naange tan ana womna ɓiɗɗo. 105
Ndiyam ko ɓe njooɓinoo kala hanti timmi.
Ɓe ɗomɗii ɗomka annii ŋaasa konondol.
Doonyorgal ɓe sooynii na yaara heese
e dow balangol na fonndi e maɓɓe warde,
na ƴeewira tatte fuu gite baylitiiɗe 110
tawee waylaali fey fey hoore maggal,
waylita noone muuɗum wonta noone
ko fiiltii kuɗɗe winnde no muuyi nannda.
Hammadi ƴeewi ndeen yaadiiɓe noddi mo wii : « Ee mon! onon ɓee ɓiɓɓe yaayam. 115
ngaree! daabaawa ceekunga aadi ƴeewee!
ɓodoowa, jaƴoowa hakkunde yaa e warta!
nga waylita noone, noon gite talla ndaaraa
kala tatteeji hoore nga sottinaali. »
Doonyorgal wii: 120
« Ɓinngel Aada laawol maaɗa jokku.
So taw taykaade nii woni sommu lobbo,
anndude deƴƴa ɗum haɗa halkoyeede.
Min mi arannde ndaamaa maale leyɗe
yaamana-juuju, Kaydara sirru kam jey, 125
goɗɗudo sanne kaa ɓalliido Kaydar.

They crossed the places inhabited by the sons of Adam 25.
They crossed thick virgin forests.
They came out at a dry and plain;
this plain stretched as far as the eye could see.
No greenery; on this plain they could see nothing
but the solitary sun fluttering, flickering 26.
Their entire water provision had run out,
and they were thirsty; their thirst scorched their throats.
They noticed a chameleon making its way slowly
down the road, coming up to them,
looking around in every direction, rolling its eyes
without turning around or turning its head,
changing color, taking the color of nearby things
and blending in with the items of its choice.
Hammadi studied it, then called over to his companions
and said, “Oh you, yes, you, sons of my own mother 27.
Come, come and see this fantastic animal!
He moves haltingly, neither forward nor backward!
He changes color, rolls his eyes and looks
on all sides without moving his head.”
The chameleon said:
“Son of Adam, you are on the right track.
If observing is a good quality,
knowing and remaining silent wards off calamity.
I am the first symbol of the land
of the dwarf-spirits and my secret belongs to Kaydara 28
the distant, the nearby Kaydara.

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
25. The intent is to lead the listener astray and draw the attention of the initiate. In fact, we are in the country of the hidden: there are no more men in this place than are underground; the Fulani equivalent to Adam is Kiikala, the very ancient, the first man.
26. Fulfulde expression for evoking the fluttering of the noonday sun.
27. The initiates are gradually linked closer and closer together; unknown to one another at the beginning, the common adventure nearly makes them bloocrbrothers and suppresses social differences.
28. Since the beginning of the adventure this is the first time that the travelers hear and learn the name of the one drawing them on, the god of gold and of knowledge; this can be surprising in the light of the apparent logic of the account: these three men go out one fine day from their house, meet at a crossing and allow themselves to be drawn on in the most unlikely of underground journeys, merely at the suggestion of an unseen voice; why, to what end, toward whom, towards where? But the listener who hears the account knows very well who Kaydara is, and towards what end one submits to initiation in his mysteries; it should not be forgotten that there is a shortened form of this tale which can be recounted to any audience.