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 1715-1730

anndaa min mi dulluɗo jurminiido, 1715
miɗo doga duuɓi keewɗi nyalooma jamma,
mido tefa gorko annduɗo maandinana kam
kuɗɗe ɗe njii-mi yaadam leyɗe Kaydara,
maale mehaaɗe yaamana-juuju leyɗe
kaadimaniiɓe Kaydara kaawnoyiiɗo. 1720
So nii domkam heɓii iwrii ndiyam maa,
maayal annde diƴƴe daneeje ndeentii
ma mi jogitoo e hooram mi hokkoyan maa
mbelko'u maawɗo mo na danya bidɗo Aada
e dow ndii leydi dillintoondi wayloo. 1725
Anndinoyam yo aan woni kanŋe laaɓɗo
gaɗaaɗo e licce dey weddaa e tidde
tibaaɗe e laabi pati anndee yo mobbo
suuɗee annde muuɗum ngam no saawraa.
Sikke walaa so miɗo jaɓa pecciren ne 1730
jawdi jogii-mi kam duu e laamu am fuu.
So ɗum heƴoyaali weltoto wonde macca
mi wonan kumtoowo paɗe maa mi tottitiiɗo. »
Won ko gariibu gunndii wirfi toowni

learn that, poor and ignorant as I am,
I have run for years, day and night,
looking for a man who knows and could teach me
the things I saw on my voyage to Kaydara's land,
the symbols attached to the country of the dwarf-spirits,
servants to Kaydara, the miraculous Kaydara.
And if my thirst left me, quenched by your billowing,
you, oh ocean of knowledge, with clear, translucent waters,
I would be grateful for the greatest
stroke of fortune a human can know
on this earth that moves 120 and changes 121
Teach me, you who are pure gold
enveloped in rags and tossed in garbage,
heaped on the road and hiding
your identity of master which stays thus veiled.
I certainly consent to share with you
the wealth and power I hold.
If that does not suffice, I would gladly become a slave
to loosen your sandals, I would be at your service.”
The beggar murmured a few words, then raised his voice

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
120. From the beginning, the Fulɓe have known that the earth turns; for them, the earth is mobile, it moves, it revolves; we should recall the surprising scientific intuition of the Bamana, who see matter as being derived from pure, concentrated energy. Many are the dictums which express this notion of telluric movement, for example, “we have been moving since the earth has moved”; “Our animals move on the earth that moves”; “shadows move, animals move on the earth that moves, then why should I myself not move?”
121. The earth is transformed by interaction of its elements; water eats earth, earth covers over pockets of water, etc Here are two songs treating these themes of the movement and transformation of the earth:

The earth turns slowly
and the shadows are displaced.
My oxen pass
back and forth
They trample the spreading shadows
that move.
What can prevent me
from going along with them?
If they are sated
I am no longer hungry
Welo-Nana* hears what I say.
I lead,
I push on my bleating oxen.
During this time,
the earth is ripped apart.
An immense excavation
opens a mouth like a dugout.
I say: you will not swallow
the herd of the brother of Ummu.
Then swallow the sky
if you can;
swallow the winds that follow
their path in space.
If I withdraw, it is not from fear;
it is in order to protect my oxen
and to protect myself.

* Welo-Nano is the name of a witness, the lover or sister.