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 315-340

basi tati kebbinaa daabaaji njarnaa
ko heddii yooɓoyaa faa balɗe keewɗe.
Hamtudo wii:
« Hoko woni sirru maa aan sewnde neema? »
Gooto e ɓiɓɓe henndu wiyoy e mbeeyu 315
— « Gaygel hortataa hiisee e maale,
maale de leyɗe yaamana-juuju fanndii.
On naatii e ley ngeengaaji gotte,
yo ɗii ley leydi doomata jawdi Kaydar. »
Sawtu belɗo no kolli kam e googeeii, 320
sawtu gaygel yalti noon wowli :
— « Miin woni joyabo ndaamaa maale leyde
yaamana-juuju, Kaydara sirru am jey,
goɗɗuɗo sanne kaa ɓalliiɗo Kaydar;
Ɓinngel Aada, aan koo haaka wella» 325
Cooynii waayiraaɓe to yeeso doobal.
Yoo maa ɗemngal am, ndaa tew cuɓaaɗo!
Foondu ɓe ndiiwi; Hammadi waayiraaɓe
be ɓurdii semmbe, jolbuɗo yii ko nyaama!
Ɓe sukkuno juuta-koyɗe yo mabbamaaru. 330
Nduu luttundu pooli kala sakiraaji mayru,
koyngal mayru gootal, wibjo wooto.
Ndu daasoo yaadu mayru yo teddinaandu.
Hammadi yaadiraaɓe be sukku yaafi
ɓe ngada kama nannga poolal fay fitaaki. 335
Ɓe saakii pilni heddii fawde junngo.
Ɓe buuri ɓe maɓɓoyan doobal ɓe nannga.
Ɓe doppondiri colti saami faa ɓe ajiii.
Yo ndeen haawniindu soortii soroy ɓe yalti
hakkunde ley koyɗe maɓɓe 340
diwoy ndu joottii.

they filled up three water-skins, their cattle drank
and they took the rest for a supply of several days.
Hamtoudo asked:
“What is your secret, then, little merciful one?”
One of the sylphs answered from the open air:
“The little, inexhaustible water source is one of the signs,
signs and gifts in the country of the dwarf-spirits.
Here you are now, in the land of the dwarfs
who guard the underground treasures of Kaidara.”
A soft, beautiful voice, like musical strings,
emerged from the small hole and said:
I am the fifth symbol and sign of the country
of the dwarf-spirits and my secret belongs to Kaidara.
As for you, son of Adam, go your way.”
Further on, the friends came upon a bustard 40.
Now, there was a choice catch!
They gave chase to the bird; Hammadi and his friends
used all their strength; food for the famished!
They supposed that the wader would be easy prey.
Unlike his brother birds
he had but one leg and one wing.
He dragged himself, making slow progress.
Hammadi and his companions thought it easy
to surround the great bird and take it effortlessly.
They split up to proceed; had only to lay their hands.
They rushed to capture the bustard;
they collided with force, and fell backwards.
The fantastic bird escaped, wriggled away under their feet
from between their feet
flew away and alighted further away.

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
40. It is said that the bustard is polygamous because it is often accompanied by two or three females. The sylph, in response to the question of Hamtoudo, contents itself in giving the meanings of the bustard which are recognized in the popular wisdom: never very far from earth is like the child never being far from its mother. never flying high up means that the child is never in its majority, or even an adult. It is not easily taken by surprise: hunters will sometimes say, “I'm a bustard, you can't catch me by surprise!”
The first time a spirit design answers one of the multiple questions the travelers pose, he gives only an exoteric meaning they are already supposed to know; this is another technique to inspire patience in them, and dominate their curiosity.