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 2025-2045

Mo waɗi hono watta ponnditoyoowo leydi,
mo jiimti e leydi hono faa tinndinoya mo 2025
Mo wii :
— « Jeeɗɗabo sirru yaamana-juuju leyɗe
Hammadi jamma mum ɓuri heewde sanne
luumngol roondoyii ɓuri uurdi hokkaa.
Ɗum ngora mi nde njii-ɗaa fuu na ɗinngi 2030
yo keme tati debbo waawata wadde waaltoo;
gorko mo waare mobbo gaɗoowo ɗaayɗe
golla ko luutti aada na bonna aawdi
mawnundi coggu ndii juunnoori layli.
Nyaako'o taagumansa ko luuɓi sicci 2035
oo dogeteeɗo jiiɗo mo nannga hinere.
Ko maanaa ɗum nyalooma yo daaba tooru
nga dow mum torra saamata woorta saare.
Hammadi njiino-ɗaa ko yo maale teete,
a anndii jooni kay koro jeeɗɗaɓere ndee 2040
jeyaande e sirru yaamana-juuju leyɗe
ɗe woɗɗa ɓadaajo Kaydara fanndinoyoyaa. »
Fooyre mawnde yayni, Hammadi wii:
— « Mi lamndoto jeettaɓere ndee maale leyɗe
yaamana-juuju ee maa mobbo ganndo 2045
ko waɗi ana weeyi weertoy bibje muuɗum
hono duu piindi watta nde wonta ɓinnde
wirfita wonta kii maa piindunooki?

He made a gesture to level the soil 141.
He leaned toward the earth as though
to ask advice of it, and said:
“The seventh secret of the land of the dwarf-spirits,
Hammadi, is more nocturnal than diurnal,
more filled with stench than fragrance.
It symbolizes the male with his sex dangling,
who must have three times twenty-four women to be satiated;
a man with a master's beard who acts like a child
and whose unnatural act wastes the precious
seed that reproduces and prolongs the lineage 142.
The image and allegory of the disgusting man
whom one must flee, holding one's nose 143.
However, diurnally, it is the protective animal 144
on whom evil converges while sparing the town.
Hammadi, you saw but the outward signs
and now you know the meaning of the seventh secret
belonging to the lands of the dwarf-spirits.
They belong to Kaidara, the distant, the nearby.”
A great light was given off and Hammadi said:
“And now I'll ask the meaning of the eighth symbol
of the land of the dwarf-spirits, knowing master
who knows how the bird opens its wings to glide,
and how the flower acts to become fruit
that changes and turns back to the tree which had bloomed.”

Notes (Lilyan Kesteloot)
141. Looking at the sky and leveling the soil so that the spirit from on high may imprint its tracks on the soil that the silatigi can read and interpret.
142. In fact we have seen how the sex act is sacred, for “the woman's sex is Geno's workshop,” the sperm will take 11 days to arrive at its destination and when the child emerges, its mother will have the eleven divine forces throughout her eleven physical openings (two more than a man).
143. In fact, such a vice makes one pitiful, for one is the slave of an instinct which one cannot dominate. In a society where self-mastery is highly esteemed, this is a real calamity. 144. This is called “the village mouthpiece.” There is always a he-goat in a village; no one strikes or bothers him; he is considered the protector of the village, for, whatever misfortune may occur, he intercepts it like a lightening rod (cf. the scapegoat of the Hebrews). The more bearded and foul-smelling he is, the more effective; in case he should die, another is kept ready to replace him. This is a custom also found among the Bambara. In the classification of beings, the he-goat also represents the attempt at union between animals and plants (he copulates with a tree-trunk) even as coral is the juncture between animals and plants; the bat provides the link between birds and mammals and the monkey is the intermediary between man and the animals.