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.

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Kaydara — Strophes 1360-1380

min miɗo yonndinii tati diiwle am ɗee. »
Tawi Hammadi hewtii nokku oo
nanii haala haa wii:
— « Ndaa Hamtuuɗo miɗo nii noon mi wallete ubboyen ne
ndonaa aan Demburu sawram nduu yonii kam. »
Ɗoon Hamtuuɗo foortii maɓɓi Hamma,
mo fawi dow becce muuɗum hoore makko,
mo heppiƴi hono so baddo so ne'aama bonnii. 1365
Hammadi jantanii Hamtuuɗo hono hen
ɓe iwi ley saare Naannaa-Koɗo ngari e mum
kunndi togooru nduu mo waaloy e ley mum
mo waalii yiyaali torra nde nanngi laawol.
Hammadi e Hamtuuɗo ubboy Demburu. 1370
Hammadi roni ɗaalli tati ɗi mo yoppi ɗii.
Waayiraaɓe ɗiɗon be doonii e yaadu.

ɓe njehi kiikiide muni ngari junngo maayo
yo ngoo woni Salndu-Keerol inndiraama.
Ɓe tawi ɗoon lummbinoowo e laana muuɗum 1375
sehaaka e foomre lekki lekki mawki.
Nyorii Hamtuuɗo lummbiroyoowo koyɗe
yoga nokkuuje fenkiɗi faa na maata.
Yo ndeen nii lummbinoowo wiyoy mo : « Dara gaa!»
Mo wii : « Ɓii Aada kala fuu keeɗɗo fonngo 1380
ngo, ngon-ɗen e mum so warii faa lummba maayo,
waajibi naata nder kaa laana yoɓa kam.
Ko woni daabaaji fuu ana waawi jolde,

for I would be happy with my own three loads.”
But Hammadi who had reached the same place,
and who had heard all, declared:
“Oh Hamtudo! Here I am, ready to help! Let's bury
Demburu whose gold will be yours. My staff is enough for me.”
Then Hamtudo raced to embrace Hammadi.
He set his head on the other's chest
and shuddered like a scolded urchin.
Hammadi told Hamtudo how
the inhabitants of Nannaa-Kodho had come to him
and built a hut to protect him
and how, after a night in shelter, he had resumed his voyage.
Hammadi and Hamtudo buried Demburu.
Hammadi took the three carrier-oxen for himself
and the two friends continued on their way.
As night fell they reached a stream
named Border-Stream 95.
They saw a ferryman there and his dugout
carved out of a giant tree-trunk.
Hamtudo made ready to ford the stream,
for the bottom was flush with the banks in places.
Then the ferryman said to him, “Stop!
All sons of Adam who come from the bank
where we are, and want to cross the river
must use this dugout and pay me.
As for the animals, they may wade in.

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
95. This is the limit of the land of Kaydara. The travelers return to the land of the visible, but only Hammadi will cross the frontier. One cannot walk through the esoteric domain with impunity; and if one does not know how to read the signs and listen to the veiled warnings, one thereby handles too dangerous a matter for a bewildered or imprudent mind. The sense of unhappiness on the part of Demburu and Hamtudo is perhaps that it might have been better for those worthy but vulgar men never to have come to the land of Kaydara; for they have neither the intellectual prowess nor the moral greatness necessary to assume such a destiny; the conquest of esoteric gold lost them more assuredly than if they had tried to become wealthy by their own human means, in a world where reasoning common to the sons of Adam was used. This perhaps is justified, in addition to all the sociological explanations given, by the African tendency to keep knowledge in hiding, to diffuse it only drop by drop, under the risk of losing it as is the case today, in order to dispense it only to the worthiest individuals; for only they will make good use of it. This concept, which is obviously opposed to the modern Western concept, may be understood if one thinks of certain murderous and very modern uses of a “science without conscience.”