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 970-1000

Hammadi hayboyaali giƴum bilaaɗo. 970
Mo faanni e ɗum ko faddoynoo mo wadde,
no gorel nayewel murii nuurnii e makko
nde silminnoo salii fay jaaboyaade.
Demburu wii:
— « Hammadi ee a wontii kaawnoyiiɗo! 975
Ko ɗimmoy-ɗaa e kaanɗuɗo muumɗi itti?
Mi hultii e maaɗa dee faɗɗeede kille.
Ada nii yooloyoo kala nyannde fuu maw
gila njii-ɗen ne Kaydara inndiraaɗo
woɗɗa ɓadaajo Kaaydara balloyiiɗo. » 980
Hammadi hinnitii anniima hoownaa
gorel nayewel a waalli e jam wiyoyde.
Ndeen Hamtuuɗo yiinoo ɗum jaleeɗe
herkiti sanne pekkitoyii na waakoo:
— « Ko Hammadi tewti oo batoyaaɗo yaaɓa? 985
yaaɓira terɗe makko hoolngo nuygal? »
Hammadi haybataa fey mettinaali
ndaa gaajaate naawɗo giƴum gaɗoyɗo.
Gorel nayewel mo ɓattii faa mo faama,
mo yii ana ŋaara dow mum ŋaara-ŋara 990
pamaroy cannyii geese e ngaasa maggel,
peƴe kuɗi tuundi kala annii ma ɗiɗɗi
keni adi ngaddi dow saayannde ɗibbi.
Mo taykii dow gorel nayewel na ɓurtii
ley muni juudde cili ɗiɗi kiɓɓi pellet 995
busal nyaamal na ɓuri nanewal tewaade.
Wowwude laabi ɗiɗi taykaama lolli
teppere helɓitii suppoo daraare
ndee too ajjitii kam teppereere.
Gite leeleeje ndee ana nyippi leydi 1000

Hammadi ignored his outraged companion.
He kept on with what he had begun
just as the man remained immobile,
refusing to answer any greeting.
Demburu said:
“Hammadi, you've taken a turn for the worse!
What can you hope to get out of an insane deaf-mute?
It seems to me your reason 78 is having death-rattles.
You've been drowning like this, capsizing,
every day since we saw Kaidara,
the so-called distant and nearby Kaidara.”
As for Hammadi, he continued greeting
the little man, trying to say hello.
Seeing this, Hamtudo 79 started laughing
out loud, doubling over with laughter.
“What can Hammadi be after with this maniac?
For his cloven hoof to walk all over him?”
Hammadi did not tire, did not even lose his temper
over the cruel jokes his friend was playing.
He approached the little man and looked at him.
He saw that tiny spiders crawled over him
and had woven their webs in his hair;
and that blades of grass and all sorts of refuse
carried by the wind had piled up in his hair.
He saw that the man's chest
was twice longer than his limbs
and that his right thigh was thicker than the left.
His chin was much larger than normal
and his folded feet were wrinkled:
one was weighted toward the ball, the other, the heel 80.
He was crosseyed: one eye gazed at the ground,

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
78. Hammadi seems insane indeed, which is to be expected, for initiaory wisdom seems like madness to vulgar common sense. There are said to be three sorts of madmen: the one who has had everything and loses everything suddenly; the one who has had nothing and acquires everything without transition; finally there is the madman, the mentally ill; a fourth could be added to this popular classification: the one who sacrifices all in order to acquire wisdom, as Hammadi will not cease to do, as an exemplary initiate.
79. Hamtoudo and Dembourou have the same reaction before the old man: they think that he is an evil genius whom they must not provoke (suudiibe designates the invisible good as well as evil).
80. Pied équin: the one that walks on the ball of the foot; talus: the one that walks on the heel.