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 1875-1900

ɗum woni wumde ngoongaa jalbinaaɗo
ɗum woni bukki luumngol sommu coɓɗo.
Hammadi maale tan njii-ɗaa ka jonkay
ɗimmere maale ndee a anndii ko firata
to yaamana-juuju Kaydara leyɗe kam jey. » 1875
Fooyre mawnde laayti Hammadi wii:
— « Ee maa mobbo tedduɗo balɗe juuɗɗe
fa moƴƴana ɓee ɓe anndaa yiɗoyɓe anndu
ko ɗum firi maande tataɓere leyde gotte? »
Gariibu nayeejo illoy licce wiɗoyii, 1880
mo wii: « Foofooru leydinkooru jamma,
ndu mbeeluu koode waɗi keerol e kammu
fawondiri faa nde tati yookoode laaci,
ɓuta pett tooke faa yarnoya kural nii,
nde yiyaa fuu waɗɗinaangal yuwa memoyɗo, 1885
noon ana waawi saanga e saanga wara ɗum!
Nyalooma ko yaare tinndini kaariyantaaku yaaya.
Ɓikkoy yaare nyaaman teketi yaaya
timmina ɓaawo ɗum dee heɓa rimeede. 1890
So taw gallaaɗi yaare yo toonyiroyɗi
hono no laaci mayre yo ndeentoraaɗi.
Maanaa jamma yaare yo heewa wolde
kaƴƴuɗo tikkereejo njiyaa na nyuggii
abada yaltaali maa yuwa saatu waroya.
A yiyaano Hammadi fuu so naa maale; 1895
jonkay a anndii maanaa maale tataɓe
sirru mo leyɗe Kaydara
goɗɗoyiiɗo ɓadiiɗo Kaydar. »
Fooyre mawnde yayni Hammadi wii:
« Ko ɗum woni ɗum ko maanaa mum ko firata 1900
nayabo e maale yaamana-juuiu leyɗe?

the blinding of the most evident truths,
the piling up of moral stench.
Hammadi, you saw only the outward signs, now
you know the meaning of the second secret
of the country of the dwarf-spirits, belonging to Kaydara.”
A great light streamed forth and Hammadi asked:
“Venerable master with prolonged days for the good
of those who lack knowledge and seek learning,
what is the meaning of the third symbol of the land of the dwarfs?”
The old beggar sneezed 124, searched in his rags
and said, “Terrestrial being 125, nocturnal being
whose shadow, marked out by the stars 126,
appears in a sky layered in three tiers 127;
its tail ends in a stinger gorged with poison,
ready to sting whatever rubs against it,
and from time to time, ready to kill!
Diurnally, the scorpion represents maternal sacrifice.
In order to be born, the embryo works at her belly,
devouring 128 it completely, and then seeing the day.
Its pinchers are offensive weapons
and its tail is a defense.
Nocturnally, the scorpion is the bellicose spirit,
nasty, irritable, and everywhere in ambush,
always ready to sting and, sometimes, to kill.
Hammadi, you saw only outward signs;
now you know the meaning of the third symbol
and the secret of the land of Kaydara
the distant, the nearby Kaidara.”
A great light shone, and Hammadi asked:
“What is the meaning, what is the secret
of the fourth symbol of the country of the dwarf-spirits?

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
124. If someone sneezes while someone else is speaking, this is because “Geno says this is true.” If one sneezes out of any context, in a general silence, this is a sign of good luck; the sneezer is answered and then pays thanks saying, “Go to her whom I love and find ten kola nuts.”
125. The scorpion is not named since it is evil-willed. To name something is to unleash forces. One designates it by certain allusions; it is the same for the hyena which is also often known as “the weighed down one.”
126. The constellation of the scorpion well known to Fulbhe hunters and shepherds.
127. The head, the body, and the tail.
128. This legend says that the offspring of the scorpion kills its mother before being born. See above: “the conception is for me the sign of a certain demise.”