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 1735-1755

mo wii « Yonoyaa ko ɓolɗino-ɗaa ma kokkaa 1735
feccere laamu maa maa macca ngontaa
fa kumtaa ɓoggi paɗe am ɗee mi jiine.
Mi ɗannike juuti heewii noon ko njii-mi.
Mi batidii e jom dananndii heewi ɗuuɗi.
Mi mawna mi weltiroyto woliide maaɗa. 1740
So won fuu ko mbaaw-mi weltoto faaboyaade;
welii kam sanne koɗu maa e needi maaɗa. »
Hammadi weltorii ɗum sanne faa wii :
— « Mi joondori nyannde gom ma mi yiitu laawol
Geno ɗowa goɗɗo gom wara laayta fooyre 1745
nde pooɗontoo-mi tampu-mi sanne tewde
tawee jikkam bonaali mi ŋooɗoyaali. »
Hammadi jantanii kiikala gariibu
ɗanngal seeka aadi namrungal mo
fa mo yiiɗoy e Kaydara kaawnoyiiɗo. 1750
Gariibu nayeejo wiyani Hammadi:
— « Banndam anndu kala fuu maande ana waɗi
maanaa gooto ɗiɗi maa duu yo keewɗe.
Nyalooma e jamma maanaa mum na woodi.
Ɗii ɗi nyalooma kam fuu moƴƴi firata. 1755
Ɗii duu jamma jeyɗum baasi tinndi.
Doonyorgal arannde e maale njii-ɗon
to yaamana-juuju kaadime'en ɓe Kaydar,

and said, “No need to ruin yourself, nor
to give over half of your power, nor
become a slave and untie the laces of these sandals.
I have traveled long and seen much,
and have held counsel with many a hoary head.
I am your elder and will hear you gladly.
If there is anything I can do, it will be a pleasure.
I greatly enjoyed your hospitality and graciousness.
Hammadi was very happy, and said:
“I always hoped I would find the path one day,
that Geno would lead a man to show me the way
that I hope for, and have greatly grieved for,
without ever despairing or tiring.”
Hammadi told the old beggar about
the extraordinary journey that took him
as far as Kaydara, the marvelous Kaydara.
The old beggar said to Hammadi:
"“My brother, learn how each symbol conceals
one meaning, or two, or several.
These meanings may be diurnal or nocturnal, light or dark.
The diurnal ones are beneficial.
The nocturnal ones, detrimental.
The chameleon you saw, first 122 sign
of the dwarf-spirits who serve the country

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
122. This is perhaps the moment to say a word about the numbers whose abundance will have been noticed in this tale; in Fulbhe society, a marked penchant for numbers is felt, but they must not be used inappropriately. Thus, one will never say how many children one has, nor how many wives, oxen, nor one's age if it is known. On the other hand, one willingly counts things that do not touch one directly. These are lessons, themes, symbols to interpret. Why? This goes back to a matter of animism: when numbers like names are enunciated, they “displace the forces which establish a current like a stream, invisible but present.” An enunciated name or number concerning one from close up gives a form of control; the proof? “If you hear an unknown person pronouncing your name while calling someone else by the same name, why are you worried? What part of your body has been touched? That is the current.” Words have always had an influence over men. But if the effectiveness of the word is great, the effectiveness of the number is even greater, for if there is a sign and words are explanation of them, the number as a product of the sound and sign gives the secret root and is therefore both stronger and more mysterious.