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 670-690

Ɗoon luurde waande no ndomma nayewel ɓanngoyii 670
ende uuma weeya e hoore yiɗiraaɓe ɓee taton :
— « Miin kaalɗo mooɗon oo e kala fuu ko seedi-ɗon,
minen ngoni jeenaɓal ndaamaa maale leyɗe
yaamana-juuju, Kaydara sirru kam jey,
goɗɗuɗo sanne kaa ɓalliiɗo Kaydar. 675
Ɓinngel Aada, aan koo haaka wella… »
Taton yiɗiraaɓe mbeltii ɓe ndoccoyaali,
ɓe manngi ɓe tokki laawol fuu adinngol
ɓanngi e maɓɓe ngadi debe balɗe eɓe njaaa,
debe jammaaji eɓe njaha, kala nde ɗaanii, 680
nde kala fuu ummoyii ana yaha ɓe ɗaanoo.
Gila toowaali naange e peemu hoore,
nyannde debeere muuɗum feeyo ɓanngi
engo, nii waaloyii ley kaaƴe toowɗe.
Toɓo toɓi diƴƴe dewi faa ceeli baamle 685
ɗe nanndi e daabe muutare mawɗe terɗe.
Nde ɓe joli feeyo tan nii kooli ngaɗoyii
dille yimooɓe heewɓe na gooyta daaɗe
— « Jaka poofooji kala fuu dummboyaaɗi
dahaaɗi nde yoofɗataa. 690
Maayde na yuɓɓa tagga nyalaaɗe toƴƴa,
dumunna na yoola maayde na moosindoo ɗum.
Henndu wifooru honndina yiite jaawa.

Then a cloud vaguely resembling the old man,
passing over the three friends, murmured:
“I, who speak to you, and all you have seen,
we all form the ninth symbol and sign of the country
of the dwarf-spirits; the secret belongs to Kaydara,
the distant, the nearby Kaydara.
As for you, sons of Adam, go your way…”
The three friends, relieved still to be alive 55,
took the first road they saw,
and spent forty days 56 walking,
forty nights 56 walking, walking while everyone else slept
and sleeping when everyone else got up to walk 57.
Before the sun rose above their heads
on the fortieth day, a valley appeared,
a valley surrounded by high mountains.
Rain and stagnant water had worn down pinnacles
that had taken the form of fabulous animals 58.
As soon as they reached the valley floors
singing voices were heard, on every pitch:
“Thus all beings are prisoners 59
at the mercy of implacable death.
Death that spins, unfurls, drops away each day,
the instant drowns death, swallows it.
The wind whips up the fire, revives it.

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
55. Not to have been killed by the fire. Life is symbolized by an interior source that is always warm, by faculties always aware, “always lit.” Extinction of the inner source that warms the vital organs thus coincides with death.
56. Forty is sacred number among the Fulɓe; if a steer has certain markings and lives to 21, when it dies, its funeral lasts 40 nights. It is the same when man becomes over 150. Among the Bamana, for the initiation of the Komo, 40 cowries are offered as a sacrifice, with 40 horses, 40 steers. The original bamanakan word for 100 is “twice 40.”
57. This is a very initiatory notion: systematically to do the opposite of what is customary, so as to set oneself off from the group, because of being on a quest for the other side, the netherside of things.
58. It should not be surprising to see ponds and trees sing like animals. In fact, all miracles are possible in the country of the dwarfs; besides which, it is normal that, having penetrated in the world of the hidden, the travelers clearly perceive their manifestations and parlance. It should be remembered that for an animist audience, things or animals can be endowed with speech, with contact between the species being experienced as natural and daily relations.
59. The chant of the mountains is filled with mystery, incomprehensible to the layman; in fact, it is made up of uncompleted sentences that are test questions posed to the travelers.