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 1690-1710

Hammadi taykitii no mo soccondirta
ɗee ɗiɗi juuɗe makko na lutti aadi.
Mo gaati nde tati mo barkini Laamɗo Kammu
gaɗoyɗo mo haari Hammadi duu mo yetti 1690
gariibu nde hewtunoo dow daago muuɗum,
Mo ajjii mo jonŋinii pantal mo fii ɗum
Mo seŋondiri juuɗe makko mo wawloyii ɗum
heddii mo ƴeewa kammu mo ŋorma heese.
Oon tuma jamma moɗoyii duule kantii, 1695
laral asamaanu ngal way hono bulaangal.
Dental koode kala anniima laayta
hono fa de njayna batu Hammadi e koɗo mum.
Caggal deƴƴoyii faa huunde juutii,
gariibu wowli wii: «Yonkay na waawi mi wiyoyan 1700
min oo cili ɗiɗi Hamma nyaamdii junngo e junngo
taweede wo kanko oo kaananke mawɗo.
Mi muuyli jooni kay waynaade hoota
to paa-mi na woɗɗi sabu suudam na hikitii. »
Hammadi jaabii: 1705
— « Ee maa mawɗo moƴƴo mi faala gerden
sabu dee nde njawtataa damal am ko kaal-ɗaa
no cooɗori-ɗaa yo ɗum fuu tabitinoy kam
a wanaa aahiijo looɗo mi tannyorii ɗum.
Mo ngaɗ-ɗaa hoore maaɗa a woɗɗoyii oon. 1710
Ngaalla ni tordi-maa-mi abba guuro
aan kalhaldi teddundi duuɓi keewɗi
teddiniraandi sabu gite mum ko toƴƴii
ko wuuri so laatoyil kalhaldi ɓooyndi,

and Hammadi saw that he rubbed them
against each other in an unusual way 115.
He burped 116 three times, praised the Master of Heaven
for having restored him, and thanked Hammadi.
When the old man went back to his mat,
he lay on his back, crossed his feet
and folded his hands behind his neck 117.
There he stayed, contemplating the sky and whispering softly.
The night had swallowed up the white clouds
and the vault of the firmament became a clear blue.
Together, one at a time, stars glittered
as though to light Hammadi's meeting with his guest.
After a long silence the beggar spoke,
saying, “Now I can say
that twice I ate out of the same plate as Hammadi,
even though he is a great monarch 118.
Well, then, I'd like to take my leave now,
and go back. My house is far, I have a long way to go.”
Hammadi answered:
“Old venerable man, I would like to talk with you.
In fact, what you said while entering my door
and also, your way of washing your hands, convinced me
that you're no mere beggar; of this I am sure.
You're far from being what you appear to be.
By God I beg you, oh father full of life,
you bull, heavy 119 with your load of years
and overburdened by all that your eyes have seen
in life, before becoming an old bull,

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
115. The old man rubs his hands in an unusual way, that is, back to back.
116. Burping is a sign of politeness; as long as the guest has not burped, more food is brought before him.
117. This is the position of the master when he is tired; it is somewhat impolite in public, but can be seen as a mark of intimacy; before the king, this can be explained only when the beggar is completely impudent or else if he is master and as such, superior to the king. For the latter, this will be one of the signs which will lead him to “recognize” the supposed beggar.
118. Sharing the king's meal, a customary form of bragging; in Islam it is also said, “He who eats with Mohammed will go to Heaven” and Mohammed answers, “He who has eaten with him who has eaten with me, has eaten with me.”
119. This expresses an intensity of maturity and force, in opposition to his fragile and derisory appearance. Hammadi proves that he knows how to see beyond masks and the fact that he is able to recognize “a man who knows” under any disguise.