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 285-310

e ɓoggol-leydi coppoowol.
Teppere kaa mi tookaaka 285
mi mettaa ylide; ummee ɗoo
no yaawri, iwee e oo nokku. »
— « Noon fii worri » wii sawtu
gaaɗo no iwru ley nawre;
— « Miin woni nayaɓo ndaamaa maale leyɗe 290
yaamana-juuju, Kaydara sirru am jey,
godɗudo sanne kaa balliiɗo Kaydar.
Ɓinngel Aada, aan koo haaka wella… »
Hammadi kam e mum yaadiiɓe jaɓdii.
Ɓe doomaa haala caakanneeri ɗimma. 295
Ɓe ɗowtii waaju oo giɗo waajoyii ɓe.
Ɗoon nii ɓe eggi ley ngoo feeyo njalti
tawi nyaamaali noon duu fey njaraali.
Ɓe sooynii mawki cate noon mbiidiniiki
moylii juuti toowoy naati mbeeyu. 300
Hammadi nii adii kala sorde lekki.
Mo tawi tabe lella annii ɓutti wii pett!
Mo wii giyiraaɓe : « Ma mi surɓoo dihal kal;
ko muuyaa fuu yo ɗum rim sanne laatoo! »
Hammadi hippoyii dow reedu farɓii. 305
E ɗoon nii temmbu gaygel suunci heewti.
Mo farɓii heewti, wontoy farɓa heewta.
Hammadi warri nii faa ɗomka yalti.
Nde kaawnaa yaadiraaɓe kumiima nyemmbi.
Ɓe keɓi njari kaari, haako ɓe kommbi loowri 310

that filament of earth 39 which stings the heel.
But I am far from poisonous
or ugly to behold; away from here!
You must leave this place quickly.”
“Yes,” continued the voice
which seemed to come from the bottom of the pond;
“I am the fourth symbol of the country
of the dwarf-spirits, and my secret belongs to Kaydara,
the distant, the nearby Kaydara.
As for you, son of Adam, go your way.”
Hammadi and his companions accepted this.
They needed to hear no more from the salamander.
They followed her friendly advice.
Immediately they left the valley, emerged
without having eaten or drunk a thing.
Then they came upon a large shady tree,
so high and slender, it reached into the very source of the air.
Hammadi was the first to reach the tree.
There he saw a gazelle print submerged in water.
He said to his friends, “I'll sip this bit of water,
let come what may!”
Lying on his stomach, Hammadi took a sip.
As he drank, the hole filled up again.
He drank more, and the hole filled again.
Thus Hammadi drank and his thirst left him.
Astonished, his friends did as he had done.
They drank their fill; using a leaf as a funnel,

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
39. Serpents have already been spoken of in this story, and those that have been encountered are dangerous and harmful animals. Yet it remains to be seen whether these reptiles have a universally negative meaning, as in European civilizations; in fact, in most of the African cosmogonies, it is encountered with a very positive sacred charge. Among the Dogon, the Ewe, the Bamana, the Bamun as well as with the Kissi; it has a cosmogonic meaning (Dogon and Bamana); sometimes it is the protector god of a nation, and is venerated as such (Togo and Dahomey); the most often, it plays an important role in totemism; a case in point is the sacred python of Samory the Conqueror, as well as the small black snake of the blacksmith of Camara Laye; it can be the royal insignia as with the sultans of Fumban (Cameroon) or a legendary animal among the Bamileke like the numekong whose name means “serpent so large that it straddles the mountain without even moving its tail”; it is extremely intelligent and its enormous egg shines like a beam and is envied as a source of light.
Finally, we should recall that the serpent is often associated with fertility. Among the Bamileke if a serpent rolls around the neck of a woman, she will give birth to twins whether or not she is pregnant at that particular moment. The role of the male-sex-serpent is evoked here.