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 1970-1990

ana ngadi leeɓi cewɗi gadoyɗi bukki
cinkal dammbalal ana yaawi saamde
hono tagu duule baage ɗe naange ɗalata
e kammu so kam mutii fade futuroo warde.
Hammadi dun-ya nduu ana way no foondu 1970
ndu koyngal muni kanyum e wiifoongo wooto.
Jiiɗo ndu fuu wiyan ana waawi nannga
kaa kaayniindu soroyan e koyɗe yalta
lohiiɓe ndu jalkitoya wiya : ngal kay a nanngan!
Hono no maayde waawaa lanna wonkii 1975
noon kaananke heɓataa timminoyde abada
nyalaaɗe so juutoyii maa ndaɓɓiɗii fey.
Moƴƴin nyalɗe maa mbittaa ta minsaa
iwaa e dow leydi ndii heddoo na talloo
e dow mum hoore ana ƴonnyoya dadiiɓe 1980
faa danya leydi dammoya fanndinoya ɗum.
Higgere woowi doobal gorko gooto
ana tummbii e rewɓe taton ma nayɓa
ɗum woni maande gorko mo rewɓe heewɓe. »
— « Ko ɗum waɗi rewɓe nayɓinoyaa tawaangal? » 1985
Hammadi lamndoyii ɗum yidde faamu.
— « Buutoorin wiyani Helleere ɓii mum
Dewlaa rewɓe faa yottoo nayon kep!
maa duu gooto debbo nayon potoyɗo;
dewlaa debbo moƴƴo ɓamaa mo ŋarɗi 1990
ɓamaa ɓeynoowo on woni yaaya ɓaade,

symbolizes ephemeral fashion
which does not last,
golden reddenings that the setting sun
lets loose in the sky before dusk.
Hammadi, this world is like a bird
with a single foot, endowed with a single wing.
Everyone who sees it thinks it's easy to capture.
But the strange bird takes off between their feet
and gets away, taunting, ‘Come back, catch me if you can!’
Just as death cannot extinguish the soul,
so a monarch cannot alter his days,
lengthening or shortening them.
Fill your days well and then leave without regret
from this world which will always turn,
duping those who take a fancy to it,
who seek to dominate or rule it.
The bustard lives in a group with a male
for every three or four females,
which symbolizes the polygamous family.”
“Why our customary four women?”
“Buytoorin said to Hellere his son:
‘You will wed 137 exactly four women,
or else one woman equal to four;
marry a good woman 138, a beautiful woman,
a fertile woman to increase your family,

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
137. Among the Fulɓe, one does not chose a wife, it is the uncle or father who choses for you, because “an old man seated beneath a tree sees the horizon better than a child perched at the top.” As it happens, there are four persons to whom a Fulɓe can never say no: his parents or those who have taken on that role (uncles, tutors); his master-initiator; his king; the stranger whom Geno sends to him. This absolute law will continue to induce a number of ethnographers to error; if they have been sent to the village chief by the administator and if the chief specifies that pleasing answers must be given to the “foreign administrator,” the subordinates or interpreters will answer affirmatively to every hypothesis the foreigner advances, since this is the best way to please him. After this, the foreigner leaves completely “in the straw” but delighted with his conquest, just as his hosts are delighted with his pleasure and conscious of having completed their duty.
A woman offered by her father cannot be refused; but she is not necessarily suitable; therefore one can take one, two, or ten others as long as one has the means, until the four finalities are satisfied; if they are satisfied after one or two marriages, the man will make do with one or two wives.
138. She who receives strangers graciously and who is a good guardian of the family wealth, spending little.