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 1520-1545

wii: « Saɗi iwɗo Kaydara leyɗe kaayɗe! »
Mi jowtii on mo jowti mi » wowli Hamma. 1520
« Ko ɗum woni leyɗe meeɗen kala kibaaru ?
Ko ɗum laareeji meen e nayeeɓe meen mbii ? »
Hammadi lamndoyii ɗum.
— « Nyeenyuɓe meen mbatii cili koyɗe limɗe
capan tati kara e cili tati ɗum ɓe kawri 1525
nde ceertata fuu ɓe dursitoyoo ma tinndol
biingol : Kanŋe waawaa loodde hersa. »
Hammadi yani e ngol tinndol na miila
no ngol foti luggiɗidde ; mo sikkitii nii
mo tuumi debbo makko fa kille taatu. 1530
Mo wiyani hoore makko:
— « Tuumo jaɓaali haalnude kam ko laaɓi.
Tawan debbam waɗii kam hersa keewɗo
maa tawa duu mo suutike yalti suudam
maa omo wondi ɗoon e suka-gorko makko. 1535
Taweede mi ɓooyoyii wonataa yo nganto
hono ɗee golle bonɗe monninaaɗe.
Kala fuu no warri han mi warataa e suudam
so naa taw waktu sirru njodom uraaɗo. »
Hammadi haɓɓi jeenay ɗaalli muuɗum. 1540
Mo doomoy jamma woɗɗi mo mooltii naati
hono baajol mo naatoy suudu makko,
ndu mo suppii nde diwnoo kakka makko.
Mo sooynii fooyre ana maja fooyre fitila.
Liccere mum yarii timmii nebam mum. 1545
Fooyre na fooɗa ɗemngal saa e saanga

“Hail to him who enters in the mysterious land of Kaydara!”
“And greetings to him who greets me,” answered Hammadi,
“What is new in our country?
What do our fathers and old men have to say?”
asked Hammadi.
“Our wise ones have met
thirty-three times,
and each time, in unison, they repeated this maxim:
‘Even gold cannot wash sullied dignity!’”
Hammadi began to reflect on all aspects
of that remark, was taken over by doubts
concerning his wife's fidelity,
and said to himself:
“Suspicion has not told me the full story.
My wife, it must be true, has dishonored me.
Perhaps she has even left my house
or lives there in the company of a lover 109.
My long absence can be no excuse
for such monstrous behavior.
Be that as it may, I will arrive at my house
at the hour when the perfumed skirt is removed 110.
Hammadi stopped his carrier-oxen.
He waited for night before slipping off
like a viper, to return home.
He jumped over the wall and walked in,
and there saw a flickering candle flame.
Its wick had already consumed the oil
and the flame stuck out its tongue at times

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
109. One says that “a man who is not jealous is not a man” to mean that he is human in succumbing to jealously; adultery is severely dealt with in Fulani society; however, it does not involve prescribed sanctions, and vengeance falls not on the wife, but on the third party; this can go as far as the murder of the rival. But it also happens that truly superior men take hold of themselves enough to ignore the fact and “close the door” if they have come upon an act of adultery.
110. This has to do with a small garment, the only one a wife may keep on in bed with her husband; likewise, if a man sleeps with his pants on, his wife may accuse him in the face of his elders. Marital life is regulated by a whole code where delicacy of gesture reveals a delicacy of feeling; for example, the woman must put on perfume or else “resemble a man” and displease her husband; aside from this, the wife may request explanations if her husband turns his back to her regularly; supposedly anyone who wants to turn over lets the other know, and asks permission. Finally, the sexual act, which is considered sacred, is also strictly regulated.