African Oral Epic Poetry Praising the Deeds of a Mythic Hero
11 months ago
AFRICAN ORAL EPIC POETRY Praising the Deeds of a Mythic Hero by Fritz H. Pointer With a translation of The Epic ofKambili (as recited by Seydou Camara, the griot) Translated from Mande into English by Charles 8. Bird with Mamadou Koita and Bourama Soumaoro With a Foreword by Daniel Kunene The Edwin Mellen Press Lewiston•Queenston•Lampeter Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pointer, Fritz H. African oral epic poetry : praising the deeds of a mythic hero I by Fritz H. Pointer ; with a translation ofThe epic ofKambili (as recited by Seydou Camara) ; translated from Mande in English by Charles S. Bird, with Mamadou Koita and Bourama Soumaoro ; with a foreword by Daniel Kunene. p.cm. English, with English translation from Mandingo Published in 2012, with Pointer rather than Byrd credited as translator, under the title: A translation into English of the epic ofKambili (an African mythic hero). Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-7734-4087-6 (hardcover) ISBN-10: 0-7734-4087-9 (hardcover) 1. Epic poetry, Mandingo. 2. Epic poetry, African. 3. Mandingo poetryTranslations into English. 4. Oral tradition-Africa, West. 5. Griots--Aftica, West. 6. Heroes-Mythology-Africa, West. I. Bird, Charles S. (Charles Stephen), 1935- ll. Koita, Mamadou. ill. Soumaoro, Bourama. IV. Kamara, Seyidu. Kambili.Title. English. V. Pointer, Fritz H. Translation into English of the epic ofKambili (an African mythic hero). VI. Title. PL8491.7.P65 2013 896.345-dc23 2012038968 horssbie. A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library. Copyright ~ 2013 Fritz H. Pointer All rights reserved. For information contact The Edwin Mellen Press Box450 Lewiston, New York USA 14092-0450 The Edwin Mellen Press Box67 Queenston, Ontario CANADA LOS 1LO The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd. Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales UNITED KINGDOM SA48 8LT Printed in the United States of America I dedicate this book to my family who support and sustain me in so many ways, often without knowing it: Liziwe (Liz, Lizzie) Boitumelo Kunene-Pointer, my partner; Aaron Elton Pointer, my brother; Leona Dones-Pointer, his wife; my sisters, Ruth, Anita and Bonnie and June Pointer; my children, Shegun, Nandi, Somori and Thiyane Pointer and my granddaughters, Jadah Pointer-Wallace and Selina Pointer-Fox AnAneedote A three year old came up to his parents on the beach with his sand bucket full of water. "Here's the Ocean, Daddy," he said. That attitude is understandable in a three-year-old, but not so much so when a thirty year-old comes up with a set of ideas and says "Here is the 1ruth!" You want to say to him, "That may be your ocean, brother, but there is a lot more where that came from, and it's not in your bucket!" Contents Foreword by Emeritus Professor Daniel P. Kunene i Preface iii Acknowledgments xi mtroouoooo 1 Chapter One-Some Background on the Epic ............ 3 Chapter Two-Griots and Griottes: Composers and Performers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Chapter Three-Kambili and History .................. 47 Chapter Four-The Hero of the Epic ................... 57 Chapter Five-Poet and Accompanists ................. 67 Chapter Six-Mooes and Methods of Composition in K.ambili . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Chapter Seven-Praise Songs, Traditional Religion and Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Chapter Eight-Birth, Tasks and Triumph ofKambili 111 Chapter Nine-In Praise of Kambili Sananfila 123 Chapter Ten-The Story: A Synopsis 159 The Epic ofKambili 163 Bibliography ....................... .............. 287 mdex....................... .................... 295 Foreword Epic? What's that? European scholars have often gone to cultures they sought to research with preconceived notions and expectations ofwhat to find, often based on their own cultures. Till recently, they understandably threw up their arms in despair, declaring a "lack" of this or that feature they were mistakenly looking for. But now things have changed quite a bit. Ruth Finnegan stirred up the hornets' nest by coming up with a "lack" regarding the epic in Africa in her Oral Literature in Africa! There were protests and "proofs" galore that she was wrong. Some good things were coming out of her audacious statement: Scholars rose up in arms, and in the process found, or revisited, lots of epics that needed to be revisited, exposed, translated, examined and analyzed. One such warrior scholar was Professor Fritz Pointer who researched the epic of Kambili. Though not the first to study this epic, he nonetheless added his voice to the chorus that directly or by implication declared Finnegan wrong. Among other things, Pointer underscores the importance of John William Johnson's declaration that The Greek [epic] tradition is only one of many. In several places in Africa and elsewhere, living epic traditions can be observed in their natural contexts. (Johnson, William John, The Epic of Son-Jara-"A West African Tradition, Bloomington," Indiana University Press, 1986, p. 60) Great observation! But Johnson just misses the nail's head, as long as he does not put the original language of the epic at the very center of the "natural i ii contexts," and make the translation secondary. There is no doubt, however, that epic scholars are not only strongly aware of this need, but that they are moving towards correcting it. This is a wave that is getting stronger. It should be directed towards the grammar, morphology, tonology, phonology, semiology and other aspects of the original language, so we can observe the prosody ofthe original poem under discussion, and not its translation. But there is no doubt that the energy in the discourse about the epic in African cultures is moving in that direction. No doubt when it reaches that point, Professor Pointer will be there, either with Kambili, or some other African epic to underscore the truth of this statement Emeritus Professor Daniel P. Kunene Department ofAfrican Languages and Literature University of Wisconsin-Madison Preface Kambili, like Jesus, is a famous character who has an epic, mythic, story dedicated to him; yet, he may have never lived; there is no historical evidence, scholarly or otherwise; except an epic poem, based on oral accounts, dedicated to Kambili's being. It is amazing, quite amazing that a Kambili or Jesus, or Oedipus, Theseus, Romulus, Hercules, Perseus, Zeus, Jason, even a Robin Hood and Apollo who, as far as scientific research and scholarly knowledge is aware, never lived can become famous. Jesus, the Christian mythic hero, number three on the list that includes the above noted epic heroes, meets nineteen of the twenty-two indicators for heroic status, in Lord Raglan's tabulations oftypical hero incidents: The pattern is as follows: 1. The hero's mother is a royal virgin; 2. His father is a king (or god) 3. Often a near relative of his mother, but 4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and 5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god. 6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but 7. He is spirited away, and 8. Reared by foster parents in a far country. iii iv 9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but 10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom. 11. After a victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast 12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his ptedecessor, and 13. Becomes a king. 14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and 15. Prescribes Ia~ but 16. Later he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and 17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which 18. He meets with a mysterious death, 19. Often at the top of a hill 20. His children, if any, do not succeed him 21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless 22. He has one or more holy sepulchers (Raglan 138) So Jesus, meets nineteen of the twenty-two indicators or heroic criteria, while Kambili scores seven out of the twenty-two: i.e., numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12. Certainly, cultural and political forces and necessity are imperative bere. his, in fact, the result ofcultural imperialism that even the folklore, the myths and stories of one culture, dominates another. This becomes particularly serious when we consider that according to a 2010 Oallup Poll, 35 percent ofAmericans believe v (versus ''know'') that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of the Creator of the universe. Another 48 percent believe (versus "know'') that the Bible is the "inspired" word of a Creator. The same, sadly, is true for literalists and fundamentalists Jews and their Torah and Muslims and their Koran. The failme to teach people, worldwide, to understand the joy, the depth, the metaphorical and symbolic meaning, the creative fun of oral stories, of folklore, creates the current religious madness and hysteria and rush toward nuclear war: in the name of God (Jesus) Allah (Mohammed) or Yahweh (Moses). It may be as simple as that; especially, when inflamed, exacerbated, by racism, imperialism, and materialism. There are, for example, many scholarly studies of folklore and the Bible. Some of the scholarship in this area includes: J. W. Rogerson, Myth in Old Testament Interpretation ( 1974), A.B. Lord, "The Gospels as Oral Traditional Literature" (1978), Susan Niditch, Underdogs and Tricksters: A Prelude to Biblical Folklore (1987), Folklore and the Hebrew Bible (1993), Patricia G. Kirkpatrick, The Old Testament and Folklore Study (1988), and Alan Dundes, Holy Writ and Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore (1999). And, what a wonderful liberation it is to accept a Gnostic rather than Literal understanding of these stories. How infantile and how dangerous it is to promulgate myth and symbolic oral narratives as the literal word of a divine: Jewish, Christian, Islamic or whatever. How infantile, as a world we are, to use stories, and interpretation of stories as the basis for the division of people and nations. Lord Raglan, in The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama, informs us that" there is no justification for believing that any of these heroes were real persons, or that any of the stories of their exploits had any historical foundation" (13 7). In other words, these stories including the lands they talk about and-the religious vi fundamentalists: Christian, Muslim and Jewish--ere fighting over, have no claim to historicity. Even though Raglan says very little about the NewTestament it is evident that the life of Jesus is similar to this twenty-two incident hero pattern. What he does recognize and demonstrate is that the lives oftraditional heroes were ''folklore" and not history. Current scholarship acknowledges that most material that constitutes the Old Testament was put together from various oral and folk traditions, many of them going back to Egyptian and Grecian times. That was, of course, one of several currents; the collection that formed the New Testament was another. Biblical historiography and archeology were developed early in this century in an effort to substantiate the authenticity or historical accuracy of the Bible account It is now generally recognized and accepted that it has done the opposite. The Bible is not a historical text, and has only vague resemblances to what took place, as far as historians and archeologists can reconstruct For example, whether Israel ever existed is not clear. Yet, as even Noam Chomsky has noted, elements of the Christian fundamentalists right are one of the strongest components of "support of Israel"---support in an odd sense, because they presumably want to see it destroyed in a cosmic battle ofArmageddon, after which all the proper souls will ascend to heaven. The impact, the power of story, of art on, especially, the untrained, untutored, undeveloped mind is often astounding. I must, in fact, accept Sigmund Freud's conclusion that ''Religious intolerance ... was inevitably hom with the belief in one God." What follows is the declaration and political power to ontologize, assert, and promulgate a Chosen People. Michael vii Lackey in African American Atheists and Political Liberation states: Of course, the Canaanites, like African Americans, could have claimed that they were the Chosen People as well, but given their lack of political power, it would not have mattered, since the ancient Hebrews, who, like the white westerners had the political power to ontologize the Canaanites as ''no-count rascals," just as white westerners had the political power to ontologize blacks as "lower breeds. (148) Here, I cannot avoid the brilliant Huey P. Newton who said: "Power is the ability to define phenomena and make it act in a desired manner." So, the Hebrews ofLeviticus and Deuteronomy were the ones with the political power to enact the Chosen People mentality at the socio-cultural level (Lackey 148). Here, we're talking about Western culture and Europeans (primarily) who have defined themselves as Chosen. Chosen because they say they are chosen: with myths, folktales and images that confirm their selection, their preference. So, Africans can be enslaved and Native Americans and now Arabs can be extenninated in the name of some god and freedom. That all are expendable, save for the Chosen: the Priest, Clergyman, or Rabbi and his flock. The ever-insightful Michael Parenti puts it this way: Today there are millions of devotees who eagerly await Judgement Day, convinced that they number among the Chosen who will ascend into heaven while looking back viii gleefully at the libertines and liberals writhing and screaming in the lake of fire for all eternity. Nice people these soldiers of Christ, lovers of the divine. (51) So, as we note in Revelation, Christianity's last momentous act brings global carnage and eternal torture to billions of "innocenf' nonbelievers and "sinners." And, for this, we can thank a loving, merciful, Father-and-Son deity (Parenti 49). And, Western culture sees itself as the overseer, the arbiter of this fate, the fate ofmanJdnd. Perhaps, J. Robert Oppenheimer had it right after all-speaking of America, after the first test of an atomic bomb: "I am become death, destroyer of worlds." What obscene pride. If the world community were to abandon the idea of a God independent ofthe human mind altogether, in these final words of Michael Lackey "no one would be able to claim that they were in possession of an authentic religion or a true God, because everyone would have to admit, in all humility, that God is nothing more than a creature of our own minds and that religion is our own conception of what things are" (150). The study of world myths, epics and religion has brought me to this point. This is not a comfortable place to be given that my father and mother were both ministers. That, I grew up in the church. There is also the erroneous notion that African people, universally, are and must be religious in order to be "authentically'' Black, or that African people are "by nature" religious. I vehemently reject this assumption and all that it implies. Knowledge is indeed a human construction, which means that it is illogical and incoherent to say that Black people are inherently religious. Finally, in the words of James Baldwin: "If the concept of God has any validity or any ix use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him." Fritz H. Pointer Acknowledgments I thank Con1ra Costa College Board ofDirectors, Chancellor Dr. Helen Beqjamin and President McKinley Williams for generously providing me the sabbatical leave time to complete this work. I, too, must express my deepest gratitude to the Ministry of Education in Mali, Africa, whose encouragement and cooperation made the original manuscript possible. Special thanks must also go to Mamadou Sarr, Director of the Institut des Sciences Humanies, Falcone Ly, Director ofEducation de Base and Adama Samassekou, Head of the Section Linguistique, lnstitut des Sciences Humaines. The African Studies Center of Indiana University and its former Director, Dr. Patrick O'Meara was a continual source of moml and financial support to the original translator of this version of The Epic ofK.ambili, Nancy Quinn. Also, major thanks and appreciation must extend to Professor Charles Bird and his wife, Joan, for perfecting this transcription, and the true hero Sedou Camara the narrator and griot extraordinaire. Sincere and heartfelt thanks to Professor Daniel P. Kunene, emeritus, of the University of Wisconsin who has continued to encourage me, in spite of my often unorthodox, controversial ideas. He knows that mine is not the work of an approved and financed field researcher, but of rigorous and voracious reading and an insatiable appetite for knowledge of African Orature and Literature. xi xii Finally, to my colleagues: John Gregorian, Joy EicbnerLynch, Barbara McClain, Walter Masuda and Carolyn Hodge for enduring my absence. I also want to extend a special thanks to Dr. J. Vem Cromartie for reading the manuscript and making editorial suggestions. And, sincere thanks go to Sylvia Macey for her careful and patient copy-editing and typesetting. And, to my wife, Liziwe Kunene Pointer for enduring my constant presence and rehearsal for retirement for one relentless year, eternal love and thanks. Introduction The purpose of this book is to preserve The Epic ofKambili. It is, as well, to explicate and explain its content and form in the context of world epics and today's socio-political realities. It is most certainly to keep alive and make lasting the value of the research and scholarship that make this project possible. Also, I hope to perpetuate The Songs of Seydou Camara translated by Charles Bird with Mamadou Koita and Bourama Soumaoro by including an accompanying introduction, analytical essays, synopsis and bibliography that situates The Epic of Kambili in the milieu of the world's epics. Like the translators, my ''primary aim" is to "present the work of Seydou Camara on its artistic merits to the English-speaking reader." In addition, I examine and interpret the aesthetic and theoretical devices used to explicate epic literature (i.e. myths, tales, legends, ritual, song) generally and the Mandinka Epic of Kambili in particular. I offer a comparative analysis of oral literature and written texts along with the theories and methodology of oral composition and performance as they relate to this epic; and, to analyze the role and function of griots and griottes, the guardians of Mandinka oral tradition, in the preservation of texts. In Chapter One, I offer background on the epic; Chapter Two discusses Griots and Griottes: Composers and Performers, Chapter Three is Kambili and History, Chapter Four is an in-depth examination of the hero of the Epic, Chapter Five discusses the I 2 Poet and Accompanists, while Chapters Six and Seven describe the modes and methods of composition in Kambili and the praise songs, traditional religion and Islam. Chapter Eight describes the birth, tasks and triumph ofKambili, Chapter Nine is in praise of Kambili Sananfila. Chapter Ten concludes my synopsis. The balance of the book is a reproduction of the Epic of Kambili with notes. My desire is that you enjoy reading about the Epic as much as I have in writing about it. Chapter One Some Background on the Epic African oral epics, seen against the background of the genre as a whole, have served, and still serve today, the same purpose in Africa as they have for nearly all of the world's cultures; that is, to instruct people, while entertaining them, about the values, traditions, great heroes and historical events significant to their culture. They are constructed around the exploits of an epic hero, a human being with certain supernatural characteristics, who overcomes ~or obstacles and eventually triumphs, both spiritually and physically, for the sake of his people. In other words: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return. Or, as the inescapable Joseph Campbell puts it in The Hero With A Thousand Faces: "separation-initiation-return: which might be named the nuclear unit ofmonomyth" (30). Epics, universally, are also significant in portraying some stage of the cultural or political development of a people, and are usually narrated or performed to the background of music of one or more accompanists. In the hunter's tradition, The Epic of Kambili celebrates the legendary world ofAlmamy Samori Toure, ''the last great Malinke emperor who answered the exigent call for national survival, organizing diverse groups in and outside Mali in one ofthe longest, most successful defensives against European conquest. He was the last epic hero of Mali before the colonial era 3 4 whose courage, dignity, willfulness, and military genius inspired the last innovative productions ofthe jeliya" (Salaam 485). Jeliyu or griots are "a caste oftraditional singers who only marry within their own caste, thereby safeguarding their secrets and their hereditary monopoly of the profession" (Salaam 60). The Epic of Kambill, like all epics, is an artistic vehicle, a literary artifact, of a people's cultural record. Unfortunately, "the study of the African epic was born in denial" according to Isidore Okpewho ("African Oral Epics" 98). In his seminal book, Heroic Poetry (1952), C. M. Bowra bas difficulty recognizing the existence of epic or "heroic" poetry in Africa. When discussing pieces of historical praise poetry and lament songs from Uganda and Ethiopia, he observes that in spirit they are "close... to heroic outlook" but that, and here he twists the knife, "the intellectual effort required" to advance such texts to the level ofheroic poetry" seems to have been beyond their powers" (Okpewho 98). Yet another, now hackneyed, disclaimer came from Ruth Finnegan. In her groundbreaking book Oral Literature in Africa she dismisses claims of existence of epic traditions in Africa on the basis of form in which available texts were presented to editors. That is, "they do not really qualify to be called 'epics,' because they have been transcribed mostly in ordinary prose, with occasional snatches of song. For this reason, according to her, they do not have the sustained formal characteristics ofthe established European tradition" (98). Finnegan's conclusion, "epic seems to be ofremarkably little significance in African oral literature" (99). There is no better time than now to quote from John Johnson's study of Son-Jara: "The Man.de Epic": 5 It is my hope that the rigid model of Greek epic, a dead tradition that can no longer be observed in action, will not continue to dominate scholarly thinking. The Greek tradition is only one of many. In several places in Africa and elsewhere, living epic traditions can be observed in their natural contexts. (60) In fact, in her book Trojan Horses: "Saving the Classics from Conservatives" Page duBois informs us that ''recent scholarship suggests that the epic poems attributed to [Homer] are the work of a long oral tradition of nameless bards" (39). In addition, duBois adds: We need to understand our place in global history. America's cultural debts to Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Pacific Islands, to all those parts of the world . . One can no longer claim that Hebraic and classical Greek civilizations are the sole origins ofa pristine Western culture; we owe to them only part of what we are. And national identity, the understanding Western nation-states have of themselves, is only part of what students who live in the global twentyfirst century need to know. (49) So, it is important, today, to include the histories of Africa, Asia or Latin America, for example, in introductory civilization and literature courses, rather than to continue teaching only the European heritage in Western civilization courses (49). Our heritage as Americans, as a people, as a world is far deeper and complex than that of the Greek. As much as we can learn from the study of ancient Athens, we must also remember it was a slave- 6 owning, militarist, imperialist, xenophobic, patriarchal culture (40). Examination of several African epics, especially The Epic of Kambili, shows that their plots are as complicated as in the best epics from any place or period in the world. They employ all the familiar elements ofcharacterization, from physical description to interior monologue and other devices of psychological probing of character, and they do not leave out exploration of character by action, dialogue, or observation through the minds and comments of other characters. Chinweizu continues, "In the matter of narrative texture, like all oral traditions they display precise and deft use of detail as well as summations, variations in perceptual distance, and montage. Their presentations of their stories also employ philosophical reflections on human life, on death, fate, destiny, and the paradoxes of social existence, whether in the narrator's voice or in the voice of characters within the tale. And proverbs, aphorisms, and judicious allusions are not at all lacking" (59). So, the study of the African epic is, as Okpewho would have it, of necessity, a comparative undertaking (111). He goes on: "Those who resist this imperative either do not really understand the Indo-European traditions they so eagerly separate from the African, or are not willing to do the demanding work entailed by this field ofstudy. To insist that the African epic should be studied only on its own terms is to promote a narrow-minded ethnocentrism of dubious merit and intent" ("African Oral Epics" 111 ). Nubia Salaam, in her 2005 Ph.D. Dissertation, poignantly concedes: The biggest revolutionary leap made in the post-colonial period was the recognition (by the white West-my note) that a historical epic tradition actually existed in SubSaharan Africa. Since that time a steadily growing 7 archive of African epics has been collected and published" ("An Investigation of Malinke Historiography" 148). The promulgation of values and didactic intent of many epics occurs in the very theme and structure ofthese mythic, coming of age stories. For example, the absolutely ecstatic joy of a mother and community when a young man or woman is able to stand on his or her own two feet. For here is the first victory and triumph. Mamadou Kouyate, narrator of Sundiata: an "Epic ofOld Mali" states: When Sogolon saw her son standing, she stood dumb for a moment, then Suddenly she sang these words ofthanks to God who bad given her son the use ofhis legs: "'h day, what a beautiful day, Oh day, day ofjoy; Allah Almighty, you never created a finer day. So my son is going to wa1k!" (21) Afterwards, Sundiata's griot, Balla Fasseke, voice of the community, pointing his finger at Sundiata, cries: "Room, room, make room! The lion has walked; Hide antelopes, Get out of his way." (21) This is a rebirth. A ''virgin" birth, if you will, since as Dr. Ford notes ''it is a birth not from another but from oneself, from 8 one mode of self-awareness to another" that is, from our childhood dependence to adult independence and responsibility (37). And, Joseph Campbell, in his seminal study of world mythology The Hero With A Thousand Faces, says concerning the Biblical story of the virgin birth: The story is recounted everywhere; and with such striking uniformity of the main contours, that the early Christian missionaries were forced to think that the devil himself must be throwing up mockeries of their teaching wherever they set their hand. (309) Images and stories of virgin birth, coming of age and rebirth are universal in 1raditional tales as well as myth. Creation myths and stories are also universal. Of course, to consider such myths as science or history is absurd. Even our beloved Martin Luther King's views on the divinity of Jesus include: To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: "Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possibly have. .." So the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied (Carson Papers ofMartin Luther King Vol 1 150). King also understood the "Second Coming" metaphorically, as 9 every time we open our hearts ... every time we tum our backs to the low road and accept the high road ... The final doctrine of the second coming is that whenever we turn our lives to the highest and best there for us is the Christ" (Papers 270). Nor did King believe a whale swallowed Jonah, that Jesus was born of a virgin or that he ever met John the Baptist (Papers, Vol. 6 78). Coming of age, a second coming, involves expectations that question, for example, men dressing as boys their entire lives. Why don't Americans generally and American males, in particular, want to grow up? Why do they cling to and believe in infantile stories, even as adults? In the words of Joseph Campbell: We remain fixated to the unexorcised images of our infancy, and hence disinclined to the necessary passages of our adulthood. In the United States there is even a pathos of inverted emphasis: the goal is not to grow old, but to remain young; not to mature away from Mother, but to cleave to her. (11) The heroic epic image is one response to infantilism: it is said ofKambili "He was to save all the people, And rescue all the great farmers," And, most interestingly, "save all the learned holymen, And save all the wandering merchants, And save all the travelers" Q. 1114-18). Being ''hom again" includes more than "born again" Christians but anyone who has been reborn to a new life calling as we find in epic characters like Sundiata and K.ambili, the Cid, 10 Gilgamesh, even Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha. Here, I am most appreciative of the erudition and poignancy of Clyde W. Ford: The mythic wisdom of Africa encompasses a wide terrain. Here are epics as grand as Gilgamesh, heroes as hardy as Hercules, heroines as vexing as Venus, adventurers as outstanding as Odysseus, and gods and goddesses as prolific as the pantheons of India and ancient Greece. What's more, within the body of traditional African mythology lie themes whose harmonies we know well even today. Here are tales of the miraculous creation of the world, intimations of the virgin birth, lessons of the fall, accounts ofdeath and resurrection ofa spiritual hero, reports of the flood, records of the ark's voyage, and symbols of the chalice, blade, and cross. But don't be misled; all this is not the evidence of some early Cbristianization of Africa's soul. These themes appeared in Africa long before the advent of Christianity, and they are found through-out the world's great mythologies as well, although some Christians might wish us to believe their faith has sole possession. (14) During this, seemingly, global conflict between Christianity, Islam and Judaism it behooves us to look more carefully and critically at our myths, especially our religious myths. Sam Harris notes: "It seems that if our species ever eradicates itself through war, it will not be because it was written in the stars but because it was written in our books; it is what we do with words like 'God' and 'paradise' and 'sin' in the present that will determine our 11 future" (The End of Faith 12). So, it is worthwhile to consider these further observations of Dr. Ford, who finds that: Much of Christianity dogmatically insists on a literal interpretation of its mythology. We are to believe, for example, that the miraculous creation of the world, the virgin birth of its spiritual hero, and his ultimate death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven actually took place. Now these same themes appear in African mythology, but the emphasis is on their metaphorical rather than their literal interpretation. (14) And, much the same can be said for Islam and Judaism. Fundamentalists of these world religions often insist on a literal interpretation of their myths and that their holy books are the inerrant, infallible word of a Male Deity. One problem, of course, is that there are several such books: The Vedas, Puranas, The Torah (2000 BC) The Avesta (1000 BCE) The Mahabharata and Ramayana (500 BCE) Bhagavad Gita (400 BCE) Upanishads, The Tripitaka (560 BCE) The Lotus Sutra (500 BCE) The Bible, The Tao Te Ching(400 CE) The Koran (622 CE)Ancient Wisdom of Native Americans, for example. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in particular, promote a Male Deity the world should bow to who speaks only Hebrew, Greek or Arabic; certainly not Apache, Cherokee, Zulu or Mandinka or even English, decides matters as vastly diverse as nuclear war, and the end of life as we know it, to what time dinner should be served. Some Christians even believe the Bible was actually written by a Creator of the universe. In her powerful and fascinating study, When God was a Woman, Merlin Stone reminds us that for centuries, young 12 Christian, Muslim and Jewish children, male and female have been taught that: a MALE deity created the universe and all that is in it, produced MAN in ms own divine image-and then as an afterthought, created woman, to obediently help man in his endeavors. The image ofEve, created for her husband, from her husband, the woman who was supposed to have brought about the downfall of humankind, has in many ways become the image of all women. (Stone xi) How, we should all wonder, did this idea ever come into being? Most Christians, Jews and Muslims are aware of the tale of Eve heeding the word of a talking snake or serpent, of all things, in a Garden of Eden, eating a forbidden fruit-from the tree of knowledge, interestingly -and then tempting Adam to do the same; well, at least offering. He actually makes up his own mind; without telling Eve of the specific orders given him by the supreme male deity (Essex 7-8). Eve, now a symbol ofall women; certainly those who know and identify with this story, is told by same male deity that she will desire her husband and he will rule over her. Or, more emphatically, "And he shall rule over you." As a result, it was decreed by the male deity that woman must submit to the dominance of man (xii). Merlin Stone adds: In prehistoric and early historic periods of human development, religions existed in which people revered their supreme creator as female. The Great Goddess-the Divine Ancestress-had been worshipped from the beginnings of the Neolithic periods of7000 BC until the 13 closing of the last Goddess temples, about AD 500 .... events of the Bible, which we are generally taught to think of as taking place "in the beginning of time," actually occurred in historic periods. (xii) In other words, Abraham, first prophet of the Hebrew-Christian God, Yahweh, is believed by most Bible scholars to have lived no earlier than 1800 BC and possibly as late as 1550 BC (Stone xiii). So, how did this new myth come into being? How did men gain the control that now allows such a self-serving myth to dominate? Archaeological, mythological and historical evidence all reveal that the female religion, far from naturally fading away, was the victim ofcenturies ofcontinual persecution and suppression by the advocates of the newer religions which held male deities as supreme. And from these new religions came the creation myth of Adam and Eve, and the tale of the loss of Paradise. (Stone xili) West Africa certainly was not and is not immune to such a universal religious myth and its consequences, Native Americans as well. In The Wisdom ofthe Native Americans, Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman) in "The Hypocrisy of the Christians Among Us" recounts: I am reminded of a time when a missionary undertook to instruct a group of our people in the truth of his holy religion. He told them of the creation of the earth in six 14 days, and of the fall of our first parents by eating an apple. My people were courteous, and listened attentively and after thanking the missionary, one man related in his own tum a very ancient tradition concerning the origin of the maize. But the missionary plainly showed his disgust and disbelief, indignantly saying, "What I delivered to you were sacred truths, but this that you tell me is mere fable and falsehood!" (128) So, Native Americans' beliefs, like Africans' are condemned by Catholic, Protestant, and I dare say Islamic believers who teach Biblical and Koranic miracles as literal fact We must, as Ohiyesa suggests, "either deny all miracles or none, and our American Indian myths and hero stories are no less credible than those ofthe Hebrews of old" (128). What seems so evident and simple is yet a problem for fundamentalists Christians in America (Black and White) and fundamentalists Muslims and Jews in the Middle East who cling tO infantile fantasies and supematural beings like undeveloped children. Stephen Hawking, in his most recent book, The Grand Design said that in early, dare I say primitive, cultures "ignorance of nature's ways led people in ancient times to invent gods to lord it over evezy aspect of human life. There were gods of love and war; of the sun, earth and sky; of the oceans and rivers; of rain and thunderstorms; even of earthquakes and volcanoes" (17). Attend an African American or White Fundamentalist church on a given Sunday, especially following a natural disaster, and you will come away amazed that for these mesmerized flocks such a god still exists. For some, 300,000 deaths in the Haiti earthquake was punishment by this loving and compassionate god for the people's association with so-called 15 Voodoo, and Katrina happened because Ellen DeGeneres, is a lesbian from New Orleans, according to televangelist Pat Robertson. Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow further infonn us that the creation of our universe, one of many, created out of nothing "does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god" (8). Now we know ''that nature follows consistent principles that could be deciphered. And so began the long process of replacing the notion of the reign of gods with the concept of a universe that is governed by laws of nature" (17). And, Hawking argues, to say the laws of nature were the work of God, as do Kepler, Galileo, Descarte and Newton (especially a white male god--my note) is ''to merely substitute one mystery for another" (29). "A scientific law" Hawking continues, "is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides to intervene ... there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature" (30, 34). This is as true in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America as it is in Europe. Kambili, the mythical hero of our study is, after all, a Muslim male savior: " You ... saved the farmers ... may Allah not take the breath from you, K.ambili" (1. 2615 and 2620). And, while some scholars note that the Koran is borrowed from both Jewish and Christian myths others believe that it is only intelligible in Arabic. They insist that "as the literal Word of God, the Koran is the Koran only in the revealed text A translation can never be the Koran. ... A translation can only be an attempt to give the barest suggestion of the meaning of words contained in the Koran. This is why all Muslims, whatever their mother tongue, always recite the Koran in its original Arabic" (Hitchens 124). While claiming to be ''the literal Word of God (Allah)" the Koran shares supernatural elements of talking serpents, a Noah-like flood, 16 virgin birth, Athena-like angels dictating verses or suras, miraculous cures, Ascensions and Resurrections. There is, for example," the story of Muhammad's 'night flight' to Jerusalem (the hoofprint of his horse, Borak, is still allegedly to be seen on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque)" and we all know that horses cannot and do not fly (Hitchens 140). Karen Armstrong puts it this way in A Short History ofMyth: Myths about flight and ascent have appeared in all cultures, expressing a universal desire for transcendence and liberation from the constraints of the human condition. These myths should not be read literally. When we read of Jesus ascending to heaven, we are not meant to imagine him whirling through the stratosphere. When the Prophet Muhammad flies from Mecca to Jerusalem and then climbs up a ladder to the Divine Throne, we are to understand that he has broken through to a new level of spiritual attainment. (23) We also know that dead people do not come back to life; that the earth moving at 1,100 miles per hour at the equator cannot stand still to give Joshua extra daylight to continue killing the Amorites in Canaan; even God or Allah can't break the laws of nature (Hawking 87); that "the learned holyman (who) transformed himself into a black cat" (Kambili 1. 1245-46) is not real life. What we might choose to believe is quite another matter. "Mythical narratives" Nubia Salaam informs us, "are the most highly valued forms in traditional history" (15). For many, in traditional, pre-modern, cultures these mythological stories that describe human origins and development are regarded as "sacred texts''. 17 So, in most traditional and ancient cultures, ''Transmutations, transmigration, mental telepathy, divination are commonly accepted" (81). Even today, astonishingly, in modem Western Christian, Middle Eastern Muslim and Jewish cultures, there is an insistence on the absolute veracity and infallibility ofthe myths of each, with all others being "ambivalently or marginally recognized within popular culture and absolutely dismissed in scientific discourse" (80). Such myths, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, are sacred, I suppose, because the texts themselves say they are, or various authors say they are. Dr. Salaam offers this explanation of myth provided by W. Taylor Stevenson in Myth and the Crisis of Historical Consciousness: The essential character of our personal and social lives is shaped by myth; or it is by the power of particular myths which determine, byway of determining our fundamental presuppositions, the way we shape our cultural, social, political, and economic lives. We do nothing of significance which is not informed my myth in a fundamental way, and the more significant our act, the more this is true. It is the symbols within the context of myth which give rise to all thought. (Salaam 15) Myths, a people's stories, accounts of imaginary or past events, are important to them. The myths, the stories and tales people believe in inform their behavior. Once we believe something it becomes part of the very apparatus of our mind, determining our desires, fears, expectations and subsequent behavior (Harris 12). 18 A belief is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything else in a person's life. Are you a scientist? A liberal? A racist? These are merely species of belief in action. Your beliefs define your vision of the world; they dictate your behavior; they determine your emotional responses to other human beings. (The End ofFaith 12) This is a discussion relevant to our current twenty-first century malaise. To wit, most people in this world believe that some Creator of the universe has written a book. Unfortunately, there are many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility (13). These world religions, Dr. Harris says are in perverse agreement on one point of fundamental importance: 'respect' for other faiths, or for the views of unbelievers, is not an attitude that God endorses. While all faiths have been touched, here and there, by the spirit of ecumenicalism, the central tenet of every religious tradition is that all others are mere repositories oferror or, at best, dangerously incomplete" (13). The next time a Christian bomber pilot does a ''fly-by'' or a Muslim suicide bomber destroys him or herself along with many innocents we should consider the role of belief, of faith, of religion, of notions of god and country in inspiring, blessing and rationalizing such insanity. The vulgar pride in the efficiency of mass murder. African heroic epics like Kambili, Sundiata, The Epic of Shalca, The Mwindo Epic, The Ozidi Saga, and other oral narratives, have been told for centuries by griots, and their female counterparts griottes in West Africa who are, in the words of the 19 griot Mamadou Kouyate: "vessels of speech ... the repositories which harbor many secrets many centuries old. The art of eloquence bas no secrets for us; without us the names of kings would vanish into oblivion, we are the memory of mankind; by the spoken word we bring to life the deeds and exploits of kings for younger generations" (Niane 1). Here, it will prove useful to turn to the insights of John William Johnson who identifies two types of epic forms and traditions, Political Epic and Hunters, Epic, among the Mandinka: Epic in Mali and elsewhere in the Mande world may be differentiated by two sets of criteria First, a structural differentiation between cyclic and unified epic can be established. Second, two varieties of epic exist which represent the recitation of two different, though related, bardic traditions: that of the casted families and that of the hunters' societies. (Son-Jara: The Mantle Epic 27) And, ''whether political or hunter, cyclic or unified, epic is considered the highest form of the bard. Its structural complexity contributes to its popularity and high status in Mande folklore" (Johnson 29). The Epic ofKambili is in the familiar proverb-praise mode of the hunters' tradition. Contemporary scholars, intellectuals and writers (Isidore Okpewho, Daniel Kunene, Njabulo Ndebele, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiong' o, Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah, Chinweizu, Lucy Duran, Cheikh Anta Diop, Leopold Senghor, Alex Haley, Naguib Mahfouz, Ama Ata Aidoo, Amiri Baraka, Charles Bird, Eric Charry, Thomas Hale, Karen Armstrong, Buehl Emecheta, Maya Angelou, Clyde W. Ford, and Nubia Salaam) 20 using the knowledge and resources of the oral literary traditions of Africa, together with the literary traditions of other cultures, have found works ofliterary art with themes and structures similar to that in The Epic ofKambili. In Toward the Decolonization of African Literature, Chinweizu, et. al. offer the following: Our examination of several epics show that their plots are as complicated as in the best epics and novels from any place or period in the world. They employ all the familiar elements ofcharacterization, from physical description to interior monologue and other devices of psychological probing or character, and they do not omit exploration of character by action, dialogue, or observation through the minds and comments of other characters. In the matter of narrative texture, like all oral traditions they display precise and deft use of detail as well as summations, variations in perceptual distance, and montage. Their presentations of their stories also employ philosophical fate, destiny, and the reflections on human life, on dea~ paradoxes of social existence, whether in the narrator's voice or in the voice of characters within the tale. And proverbs, aphorisms, and judicious allusions are not at all lacking. (Chinweizu, Jemie, and Madubuike 1983) Such observations are true for The Mwindo Epic, The Epic of Sundiata, as well as The Epic ofKambili. Kambili, like other epic heroes, is an archetype: a character, an image that recurs in literature throughout the world. He is a hero who reflects Peter Hagin's definition of epic poetry in his The Epic Hero and the Decline ofHeroic Poetry: 21 A fictitious action with fictitious characters can perfectly well fulfill the epic requirement as long as by representing things profoundly human, thoughts profoundly human, emotions profoundly human, they gain the amplitude and depth of a picture in which we recognize ourselves and our existence. The abandonment of verse, in the process, is only a necessary adaptation, not the negation of the epic purpose. (Hagin,24) Epic poetry is national poetry; the hero represents a country or a cause which triumphs with his triumph, whose honor would suffer from his defeat. The mythical K.ambili is called upon to remember the lessons of nineteenth centucy Samori Toure, and thirteenth century Sundiata; their values, their vision, and their victories. The epic poem is fundamentally a song about the heroic deeds of human beings -lest we forget: Sogolon, the buffalo, mother of Sundiata; Dugo, mother ofK.ambili, who would be pregnant with him during the day, and at night Kambili would exit her womb and walk about the village; or Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus endowed with something more than human might and operating in something larger than the normal human context. The Epic ofKambili is a success story; an account ofhow a good hero defeats evil men. Like the suitors in Homer's Odyssey, the sorcerers and Imams in Seydou Camara' sK.ambili would: with their backward ways, their fraudulent arts, their impotent promises, their lack of tact or restraint, decivilize the Mandinka, Jimini, Africa Like the reader of The Odyssey, one who listens to or reads The Epic of Kambili is quickly impressed by the similar thematic role of the suitors, in the case of the former and the 22 sorcerers and "holy-men" in the latter. The suitors like the hypocritical holy men attempt to personify powers they are incapable of proving. So, at one point the poet sings: "Since the vt;ry beginning of the world, The holyman and treachery have never been tar apart" (1. 11 58-59) and later"Ah! All the holymen are by the mosque, But all ofthem are not holymen!" (1. 1192-93). The seeming audacity to be critical oflslam or its representatives is stunning and necessary. The source of that boldness has been somewhat explained by Eric Charry in his eloquent and oh so comprehensive Mande Music: The hunter ancestry of Sunjata supports the common belief that hunters' societies and their musicians still preserve that pre-empire, pre-Islamic heritage. Epics recited by hunter's musicians have not been as extensively documented as those concerning Sunjata, but they are generally believed to refer to a mythic past that predates Islam and the socially differentiated society of the Sunjata era. (67-68) Seydou Camara, like Homer, goes to great pains to make the deaths of these charlatans expected and deserved, as both aesthetically and thematically necessary. Odysseus shows no mercy toward the suitors who have tried to take his wife and home and kill his son. Likewise, Samori, Kambili's mentor, need show no mercy toward the sorcerers whose presumptive magical arts prove impotent. The suitors and the sorcerers are summarily executed. Because, sadly, that's the way real men handle matters, I guess. 23 Realism, therefore, is one of the aesthetic resources of the griot. In The Epic ofK.ambili, an aspect ofthis realism can be seen in the executions of the four unsuccessful sorcerers commanded by Amamy Samori Toure. This central motif, in Kambili, is indicative of a certain realism, because Samori is an historically verifiable Mandinka Emperor capable of such actions. As noted by Paul Radin, traditional African omture does not appear to be a litemture in which wish-fulfillment plays a big role, or one where we can assume that the hero will triumph at the end or where wrongs will be righted (Radin 1952). African epic omture depicts universal and archetypal elements: characters, plots, themes and structural devices; it uses realism and magic realism; it speaks the language ofmetaphor and metaphysical truth; the Jungian "collective unconscious" myth we create of heroes representing our highest values and aspirations: Krishna, Mithras, Zarathustra, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, The Cid, Sundiata, Kambili. Ernst Fischer, for example, says that: Art came to the service of religion only after the craftsman had attained a creditable sureness ofhand; only then was he recognized as the repository of a certain measure of beauty and then enlisted as a trustee of communal truth. (Fischer 1963) The symbiosis between private talent and public truth may help clear up some ofthe misunderstanding ofthe mimetic or imitative principle under which the traditional artist operates. Much ofwhat we conjecture to be the creative outlook of the traditional African artist depends on what we think is his society's view of reality (Jordan 1973). It is the image, as Harold Scheub relates, that is the 24 basic material for oral narrative art forms and mediates between audience and reality. Image, Scheub relates: is so constructed and manipulated in performance that it shapes the audience's perception of the real. Image is composed ofwords that are given a unique framework by means of mytbm, for example, and by intonation and gesture, by body movements which tend to dance, verbal and nonverbal elements which tend to drama and song. Image is a visualized action or set of actions evoked in the minds of the audience by verbal and nonverbal elements arranged by the performer, requiring a common experience ofimages held by both artist and audience, the artist seeking by a judicious and artistic use of images to shape that experience and to give it meaning. (Scheub n.d.) In African oral literature, orature, rarely has man been depicted as more completely and inextricably anchored in this world, more obsessively earthbound: the human experience is the fundamental frame ofreference. Contrary to the belief widespread throughout the world, it appears, man in Africa is never thought of as having once possessed a portion of a divinity and then lost it. Rather, man is observed in his own integral circumstances, and his success and failures are seen in relation to his admirable courage or else of his moral shortcomings (Okpewho 1979). It appears, however, that the traditional African artist is first and foremost a realist artist. Daniel Kunene bears witness to this category of realism in his seminal work, Heroic Poetry of the Basotho, and, at the same time, provides this study with a 25 definition of "hero" that will be a standard against which ''heroism" will be judged in The Epic ofKambili: The heroes are not superior beings except in so far as their earthly deeds make them so, least of all are they gods or descendants of gods. They do not possess supernatural powers, or do battle against other-worldly creatures such as monsters and demons. The do not go on adventures to worlds beyond that of man. Nor are they wont to provide lavish feasts in palatial mansions. In short, they are ordinary human beings engaged in ordinary human activities. Not seldom, however, the poet, in the vividness of his imagination, uses metaphor, imagery, and symbolism which transport these ordinary activities to a level of extraordinariness, and the hero is often described as fighting against monsters, or as being himself a monster or other terrible creature destroying his opponents. But this is never meant to be more than figurative. (Kunene 1971) The human being, woman and man, is the center oftraditional African literature. Though either might act in mystical, bordering on supernatural ways, sometime, in ways inconsistent with an ordinary, reasonable and prudent human beings. So, in most instances, we will find that man does not ascend to heaven to have intercourse with the gods; the gods descend to earth (Radin 1952). And, A.C. Jordan suggests that any ''fantastic" world is as germane to the artist's sense of concrete presence as the thicket or cave in the backyard. In spite ofthe "superior'' strength or magical powers of sorcerers, monsters, ogres and other grotesque figures, human beings like K.ambili and his mother, Dugo triumphs over 26 them (Jordan 1973). Such human beings are "superior," only in so far as their earthly deeds make them so. This does not preclude the :functional and imaginative role of the supernatural and the fantastic in the oral literature of Africa, but this earthbound realism serves to indicate the tremendous empathy the poet establishes between himself and the subjects of his tale, particularly the hero. It is his imagination, his metaphor, symbolism and imagery that transports these ordinary activities to a level of extraordinariness. Another aspect of aesthetic realism noticeable in The Epic of Kambili is the relationship ofthe poet and poem to landscape. The scholarship of Charles Bird confirms that the field of action in which a traditional Mandinka hunter operates is the bush, an area diametrically opposed to the town or village. These two areas symbolize opposing foroes in the Mandinka cosmos. To gain a name sung for posterity means overcoming the deeds of one's predecessors and one's contemporaries (Bird 1974). Success for the hunter presupposes an intimate knowledge and relationship with the land; therefore, the poet, who sings the hunter's exploits, embodies this same reciprocity, this same affinity with his physical surroundings. Isidore Okpewho illuminates our concern here: There is perhaps a subtle but quite defensible relationship between art and the landscape out of which grows . . . And it would appear that a good part of the aesthetic nourishment of traditional African art derives from the nature of the surrounding landscape and the concomitant throb of animate company within it. (Okpewho 20) 27 The legends from the savanna, Okpewho reminds us, reflect certain leanness. Even the narrative mirth appears relatively lean in the savanna legends. The Epic of Kambili is a good case in point: One is struck by a certain haunting and elliptical effect to the whole narrative, and oppressive sense of loss, of decline, and of death. The tales from the forest country tend to explore a victory over death as over its forces, and on the whole reflect the throb, lushness, and elan of the organic life and fellowship around them: a veritable song of life! It is perhaps no accident of detail that whereas in Kambili the dominant sentiment is that "all things that stand eventually lie down," in.Mwindo it is that "whatever sleeps shall awake." (Ok:pewho 21) Okpewho extends his analysis of the relationship between landscape and art to include the plastic arts. Here, he suggests that there is a certain "elegance" in those proportionately long and slender antelope figures, masks, and even ancestral figures that dominate the art of the Bambara and the Dogon ofthe arid Sudan; here again, the landscape seems to be an influential factor: "There is little in the savanna flora that would supply the kind of stout and lusty wooden material necessary for rotund figures" (Ok:pewho). In this, and ways noted above, the poet, Seydou Camara exposes and extols significant material and nonmaterial aspects of Mandinka culture. Chapter Two Griots and Griottes: Composers and Performers To some griot and griotte, (singular) or griots and griottes (plural}-male and female, respectively, are famiJiar terms. To others, I suggest the wonderful, meticulous and essential work of Thomas Hale, Griots and Griottes. The volume, 410 pages, in and of itself speaks to the depth and complexity inherent in these terms. Hale notes, for example, that: Some West Africans feel that the word can be insulting, and say it should not be used because it does not appear in any African language. But for many African Americans, griot constitutes an invaluable and highly symbolic link with their cultural traditions. (8) Griots and griottes represent such a varied, proud and ancient tradition that scholars like Mamadou Diawara and many other scholars, African and non-African, do not like griot because of its ambiguity (14). One might simply replace it with poet, as I have often done here, or bard or some other term; yet, keeping in mind the term's broader meaning and significance. In tact, Prof. Hale notes that changing the definition ofthis term is precisely what the 29 30 government of Niger tried to do in 1980. Apparently, on December 18, 1979, the president of Niger, Seyni K.ountche, complained in a speech to the nation about what he saw as economic waste occasioned by griots, and that people were devoting too many of their resources, government and personal, to gifts for griots. This is no trivial matter when one considers that gifts have included: automobiles, homes, performance contracts and on one occasion an airplane (78). His attempt was to "sanitize" the profession. In Mali today, for example, griottes have gained considerable prominence. Lucy Duran observes: "On television, on the radio, in the market stalls, at live concerts, the stars of Malian music are all women" (" 'Jelimusow ': The Superwomen of Malian Music" 204). Duran is particularly illuminating, and adds: These women singers of Mali who have become successful lead their lives with singular independence. In the context of a country which is otherwise largely maledominated, and where women's liberation movements have made little if any impact, their behavior could well be described as showing "unlimited license". These women are often the recipients of fabulous gifts :from patrons (both men and women): some have been given cars, fully furnished houses, gold, large amounts of money and even in one case a small airplane so that the singer could visit her patron in a remote comer of Mali. (204) In too many countries, even today, when women attain a certain level of achievement, men do not like that Regardless, the level 31 of economic independence many of these women have achieved allows them to drive their own cars, run their own businesses, and according to Duran "are rumored to prefer the company of women" (204). The special appreciation of women's voices in Mandinka culture and history is not only recent. The presence of griottes in the music of ancient Mali is noted as early as 1354, when Ibn Battuta visited the court of Mali: The interpreter Dugba brings in his four wives and his concubines, who are about a hundred in number ... a chair is set there for Dugha and he beats an instrument which is made of reeds with tiny calabashes below it, praising the sultan, recalling in his song his expeditions and deeds. The wives and the concubines sing with him and they play with bows. (Duran 199) Griot and Griotte are not simple terms. Nor is theirs a simple profession. Griots and Griottes are part of a major professional class of artists and specialists that includes: blacksmiths, leather workers, and weavers, known collectively as the nyamakala. (Salaam 1-2). Thomas Hale says we may assume that "the profession goes back many hundreds ofyears before 1352, at least to the origins of the Ghana empire late in the first millennium" (79). In fact, the research of Nubia Salaam reveals that: "When asked about the origins of the griot tradition most griots said it began with Sourakata, the companion and praise singer of the Prophet Mohammad. This claim would locate the origins of the 1radition in the seventh century Saudi Arabia, when, in fact, according to Soumano and the Mande myth of creation, the tradition is much older" (249). In other words, the griot 1radition, 32 in West Africa, is older than Islam. "A study commissioned by the government of Niger recommended that the word griot be replaced with artist, musician, and singer". The attempt was and the term griot, like the profession it signifies, ~ucesfl survives in Niger today (Hale 15). The list of functions of a griot--genealogist, historian, adviser, spokesperson, diplomat, mediator, interpreter and translator, musician, composer, teacher, exhorter, witness, praise-singer, poet, story-teller, both extraordinary and incomplete, belies any oversimplification of the tradition. Hale elaborates: By their efforts to inspire people, mediate conflicts, and facilitate important life ceremonies, they seem to operate as secular guides to human behavior and as social arbiters. At events related to birth, initiation, marriage, family history, sports, music, and government, griots and griottes are there to witness the occasion, to enliven it, to facilitate it, and to convey what happened to others. No other profession in any other part of the world is charges with such wide-ranging and intimate involvement in the lives of people. (57) Some ''purists" perhaps preferjali for males andjalimuso for females-terms from the Mandinka of the western Mande in the Senegambian region. But, among the Soninke' of western Mali and southern Mauritania the term here is gesere '(plural geserun), sometimes spelled gessere (10). We see the problem here; these rather ethnocentric terms seem to ignore information about nonMande griots in surrounding countries, such as Senegal, Niger, and Benin. Hale observes most reasonably: 33 It seems inevitable that griot will continue to serve as the generic term for these wordsmiths. First, griot has spread into many parts of the African diaspora, in particular the Caribbean and the United States, taking on extremely positive connotations for those who see the profession as a link to their ancestors. It has entered the vocabulary of African Americans to such an extent that it would be impossible to try to suppress it. And like griots themselves who travel so widely, the term griot is now recognized around the world. (15) Griotte or griottes may not be quite as familiar to some for several reasons. For, while Hale insightfully observes, "African Americans are adopting the term griot as a sign of respect for those who know about the past, are artists in various media, or are simply high achievers," he is also careful to note that there is no mention, however, of pride or recognition of griottes (4). In fact: When Alex Haley searched for links to his heritage in The Gambia, he focused his efforts on male griots. There are no references to female griots in Roots, either the video or the written narrative. The lack of any images of griottes stems in large part from deeply rooted and functionally based gender division in many parts of Africa, as well as from the very limited amount of research on these female wordsmiths. (217) When asked by Hale in 1991 if he had encountered any female griots, Haley replied honestly, "I never heard of a female griot. . . . Nobody ever mentioned it, nor did I think about it. ... I took it 34 for granted that there were none" (217-218). Like other fields of study, especially social science research, African Literature studies, regardless of whether research is carried out by men or women, is profoundly marked by the male point of view. As one who has been reading and teaching Niane's Sundiata for the past couple of decades, I was surprised to discover that women are, at least in Mali, the dominant voices ofthis epic in the modem perfonnance context (221 ). There may even be a griotte version of Kambili. A woman can sing a hunter's song about a man. In his introduction to Son-Jara John Johnson says: Both women and men are involved with praise-poetry and song . . . .The wife will often sing the songs in her husband's epics. Also popular is the musician who accompanies his wife's singing. A full ensemble, such as that of the Kuyate lineage of the village of Kela near Kaaba, includes a mastersinger who only narrates, a woman who sings praise-poems and songs, a female chorus, a male naamu-sayer, and several male musicians. (25) Tentative research in this area has shown that in the Mande world, knowledge of epic narratives is not gender-limited. Men and women acquire the same information about Sunjata, for instance, since they are allowed to attend the (rare) official rehearsals of the epic. In addition, "despite popular belief to the contrary, it is not uncommon to hear women perform versions ofSunjata and other epics" (Duran 201). The only gender difference is that ''women know the story of Sunjata as well as men, but men can speak the 35 story, women can only sing it" (Hale 227). So, women focus more on the praise lines and songs than on the narrative. On the other hand, Salaam, tells us "In The Epic of Sara, a Malinke epic usually sung by female griots, the hero is a woman who defies the tradition of prearranged marriage in order to honor her vow to marry the man she loves. Through her tenacious integrity, devotion, courage, and guile she heroically succeeds in marrying the man of her choice" (112). Salaam illuminates our concern here: The epic expounds a cogent argument for marriage based on love, announcing in repetitive stanzas that love between man and woman is a union conceived in paradise. Sara's reward is paradise for honoring her promise and what is praised is her undaunted integrity. Sara is not sung for beauty Sara is sung for a person's behavior Sara is not sung for charming Sara is sung for a person's behavior Behaving is hard! (112) Although, Salaam continues " historical epics are predominately centered around male heroes in the Medieval world ofmultilateral patriarchy, women and goddesses are pivotal figures in epic narratives, and in African history in particular, where women perennially emerge as military heroes and heads of states, they are often the central hero of the epic (112). I am mindful here of the civilizing role a woman, a harlot actually, plays in The Epic of Gilgamesh. She is the bait needed to civilize Enkidu: who "ate 36 grass with the gazelle and was born in the hills" (64). He is referred to as "the savage man". Following the instructions of Gilgamesh, the hunter/trapper says to the woman: There he is. Now, woman, make your breasts bare, have no shame, do not delay but welcome his love. Let him see you naked, let him possess your body. When he comes near uncover yourself and lie with him; teach him, the savage man, your woman's art, for when he murmurs love to you the wild beasts that shared his life in the hills will reject him. (64) When he is satisfied, he goes back to the wild beast, but the wild creatures all run from him. "So he returned and sat down at the woman's feet, and listened to what she said" (65). In The Epic of Kambili, after much travail over the birth of Kambili, the poet, Seydou Camara sings: If you are not afraid of females, Master If you are not afraid of females, You're not afraid of anything. A woman's hand knows how to strike a man's desires in any case. (1.2257-60) The griot of epic poetry is a narrator of action and valor, and an interpreter of human life. In many parts of Africa, and the world, epic or heroic poetry is narrated or performed to the background of music. Nubia Salaam provides the following 37 synthesis and elucidation of the significant roles of the griot in Mande culture: The West African empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay had a professional class of historians who transmitted history orally and functioned as advisors to the royal court, mediators in international and national disputes, foreign relations experts, cultural and social anthropologists, ofticiators of rites of passage ceremonies, philosophers, musicians and entertainers. The art of history reached its highest level of organizational sophistication and aesthetic mastery among the Malinke/Mande historians known as jeliljeliyu or popularly known as griots. (vi) A key question in Salaam's thesis and one that is still relevant today, is: "why, in a culture that used Arabic script and had its own ideographic script, would the griots, insist on systematically preserving history through the oral arts?" (vi). Certainly, the capricious and unreliable nature of material texts and the vicissitudes of history create problems. Salam is aware of the sacking ofthe ancient Ghana empire by the Almorivids in 1076 as well as the "confiscation of thousands of texts during the destruction ofTimbucktoo and Gao by the Moroccans in 1591left a paucity of available written records and a fragmentation of oral history concomitant with the disruption and dispersal of related ethnic groups" (4). Yet, another reason for preserving the oral tradition is that from the point ofview ofthe griot, "the allegorical meanings, the moral and philosophical instruction of historical 38 discourses are far more important than factual details" (11 ). She concludes: Unlike modem Western historiography that gives legitimacy only to written texts and dismisses oral historical narratives as &historical accounts sprinkled with pastiches of truth, in the Malinke tradition oral texts are no less credible than written texts. Because an event is written does not mean it is true. In a predominately illiterate society oral historical performances are obviously more popular than written histories; but that is not the only reason for the oral tradition's popularity. More importantly, the aesthetic approach of the griot, which combines artistic performance and history, leaves an experiential impression on the audience, the observer is emotionally drawn inside the circle of performance as a participant in the historical experience. (12) The poet and his poem represent a dynamic, reciprocal, relationship with the community, in many African societies. In traditional circumstances, a contribution like that of Seydou Camara would be considered ofthe greatest importance, and such a griot might be maintained by the community through gifts, fees and, in the case of such an exceptional artist, through royal patronage on behalfof the community. In such circumstances, the poet and the story teller stood at the center of this tradition, as the community's chroniclers, entertainers, and collective conscious (Jordan 1973). SeydouCamara, Charles Bird notes, since 1953 has endeavored to make his living as a traditional singer. 39 Among the Mandinka, from whom Kambili derives, there are two types of professional poets: one is associated uniquely with the hunter's group, and the other is associated with the major noble families of the Mandinka. The poet for this latter group is born into his profession; whereas, the traditional hunter's singer elects to serve as the seer, or reader of omens, for hunters, and after the hunt sings the praise of the kill (Bird 1972). Hunters' groups, among the Mandinka, are not defined along ethnic lines. As an institution, they cross over the traditional ethnic barriers. In fact, according to Bird, the hunters' groups, may well prove to be the institution that enabled the people ofthis area to establish bonds over extended geographic and cultural areas and to use these bonds for the formation of larger units which formed the basis of more powerful economic and political states such as the Ghana and Mali empires (279). It is no accident that great kings ofthe Mandinka past are portrayed as hunters first and foremost. Indicative of the deference paid to the hunter is the sequence of image sets from Kambili in which Bari, King of the omen readers, returns from a hunt and has killed an antelope-buck, and presents it to the jealous, conspiring, 'holy' man. Here, the eulogues, to offer Daniel Kunene's coinage, are illustrative ofthe appreciation and esteem in which the hunter is held. Kunene defines eulogues as: praises, or laudatory epithets referring to some quality for which the person is distinguished, or some deed of prowess or cunning, which he has performed. In this following instance, the 'holy' man praises Bari: 40 Master, I salute You! I salute you for your hardships! The Fresh-Heart Cutter and the Fresh-Liver Cutter! Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy! Cracker of Green Heads and Gouger of Green Eyes! Eater of Cold Meals and Drinker of Cool Water! Man, your Mother gave birth to a vicious homed viper, (11. 1178-1184) Allah. Aware of the enmity between the omen reader and the holyman, the poet immerses himself in the story, in obvious empathy with the hero, and cautions with an appropriate aphorism anticipating the hero's arrival: Praising a man is not pleasing to his enemy. Everyday talk improves a man more than everyday argument. The hero is only welcome on troubled days. (ll. 1189-1191) These three insightful aphoristic proverbs express the anomalous (love/hate) relationship of the hero to his community. Seydou Camara is not a hunter, but has devoted his life to singing the hunter's praise. The bard is the master of words, and words, in Mandinka society, are considered to have mystical force, which can bring supernatural energies to bear. These energies can both augment and diminish a man's capacity to act. Thus, in Mandinka culture, the bard, the poet plays an important role in initiating, mediating and terminating acts, ceremonies and festivals (Bird v). Beyond this, the poet's task is to clarify the 41 profound meaning of events to his fellow-man, to make plain to them the process, the necessity, and the rules of social and historical development, and to solve for them the riddle of the essential relationships between man and man, man and nature and man and society (Fischer 46). The traditional African oral poet is not a slave to form or tradition: rather, like the truly imaginative leader ofhis people, he seeks first and foremost to give fresh validity and meaning to the community's life and myth with the aid of his creative vigor (Ok:pewho 23). "In former times," Vincent Monteil writes: ''the griot also filled a less peaceable function ... they bore the royal standard to war and could in no circumstances turn back" (Forde and Kaberry 267). Seydou Camara, singer of the Kambili epic, was born and raised in the village ofKabaya, Mali near Guinea. He is Mandinka and the Mandinka people are spread throughout western Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Upper Volta and the Ivory Coast. As the name Camara implies, he is a member ofthe blacksmith caste (Bird v). He is now fifty-four years of age and he began playing the harp-lute casually as an adolescent. At about the age oftwenty he devoted himself to the mastery of the hunters' tradition, the playing of the harp-lute and the singing of their poetry and song ("Heroic Songs ofthe Mande Hunters" [Bird, 277]). "The position ofthe hunters' bard is the result of a long apprenticeship spanning upward often to fifteen years" (Bird 279). It has become convenient to see the bard exclusively within the context of oral epic, since that is the topic of this study; otherwise, a full appreciation of him will reveal that his 42 competence embraces other kinds of songs. The poet of oral epic is among other things a performer. As a performer, therefore, much more than criticism of written literature cares to do, the criticism of oral literature asks questions about the context or process during which a piece of poetry is created (Okpewho 33). As A. B. Lord observes, "an oral poem is not composed for but in performance" (Albert Lord 28). Adam Parry once asked a very pertinent question with regard to the monumental excellence of the Riad: "Did Homer say on some occasion: 'I'll never do it better than that: reproduce that version!'?" One can easily imagine what liberties are taken in this area of purely imaginative literature, or at least literature that is relatively free of the tyranny of historical fact, data and chronological exactitude (Okpewho 26). Milman Parry states: The first move in this attempt to rebuild the Homeric idea of epic poetry will be to show that The Riad and The Odyssey are composed in a traditional style, and are composed orally, then to see just how such poetry differs from our own style and form. When that is done, we shall have solid ground beneath us when we undertake the problem of unity in the poems, or judge a doubtful verse, or try to point out how one epic poem would differ from another, or how the greatness of a singer would show itself. (Parry 269) 43 In The Epic of Kambili, there is a good example of a kind of improvisational irregularity, or "doubtful verse." The wanior Kanji (father of Kambili) is unable to have a child, and several soothsayers are invited to solve the dilemma and name who among the wives will bear the hero child. If a soothsayer fails in the task, he is immediately beheaded by the order of Samori Toure, Kanji's general and ruler of the land. One of these soothsayers is Merikoro, head of the powerful Komo (blacksmith cult-group), which is the ultimate mystical power in traditional Mandinka society. Beheading such a man would be unthinkable; so, though Nerikoro fails to solve the child dilemma, he goes scotfree. Here is how the bard introduces the character Nerikoro into the story: Nerikoro, the Komo man has come! Fakoli was a smith, Somori! If an insult is made to a smith, pleasure will sour. The world's first child was a smith, An insult to a smith, pleasure is ruined. Ah! Smith! Somori! If you insult a smith ... (Kambili ll. 534-539) The doubtful verse or irregular reference is ''Fakoli." He does not feature at all in Kambili as a character, but is very much one, and an important one, in the Sundiata epic. According to his editors, the bard Seydou Camara has a version of Sundiata, which is not yet transcribed. In Niane' s version, Sundiata, Fakoli is the nephew of Soumaoro, arch enemy of the hero Sundiata. In the great war 44 between these two, Fakoli takes Sundiata's side against his uncle Soumaoro because the latter has taken his wife Keleya from him. An "insult" to a smith, such as Fakoli has experienced, is therefore fraught with serious consequences. In the relevant context in Kambili, the detail serves a cautionary purpose and explains why the bard does not subject Nerikoro to treatment he ordinarily deserves. Thus a detail or line from one song is deployed, formulaically, in another song in such a way that it bestows on its new context a bold associative or metaphorical flavor (Okpewho 43). The oral poet's concept of history and fact is different from ours. For him myth is history. For him history is both what has actually happened and what is :tabled to have happened. Homer, for example, gives no date for the Siege of Troy and Gileamesh is equally silent and moves in self-contained world of the past The aspect of verisimilitude in heroic poetry is extremely provocative, but beyond comprehensive treatment within the scope of this study. The following should, at least, be exemplary of this concern. At one point, Seydou Camara exclaims: Ahl Comrades! I don't tell lies. (655) Yet, within the compass of his poem, a child pulls a buffalo home effortlessly with a rope, brings a leopard home on a leash, and a man turns into a lion. Obviously, the very nature of the oral epic marks it out as unreliable history. The heroic song is an everliving event, and the bard is often obliged to use present material 45 and thus adulterate the basic 'antiquity' or historical accuracy of his poem. The text of Kambili is distinguished by anachronisms and references that are clearly reflective of the moment of performance. Sometimes the bard is moved by the magnitude of recent events, for example: "I salute you Parisian man of the hour'' (333), a reference to Charles de Gaulle; or giving deference to his host, for example: my apprentices, I greet you. Guests, I greet you. Respected guests, I greet you, Allah! (11.57-59) The singer is a man of his times and some violations of historical fact are motivated by, perhaps, political self-interest and the vicissitudes of extemporaneous composition. The concept of 'heroic age' is only relevant to an interest in history conceived as a rigid entity, which is alien to the mythmaking genius of the poet of oral epic. For him an heroic tale has an existence with other tales of the same kind; its interest is not consciously historical but broadly and simply human. To him history is truth eternally recreated with the power of song, not as dry record of the past, but as a vital memory of the past as exhortation to present action. History for the oral poet, serves to simplify a mass of material, relates different stories to one 46 another, and evokes a world in which heroes live and act and die (C. M. Bowra 29). The task of memory and recitation, though the primary responsibility of a select caste, men and women, is the heritage of all Mande people. Chapter Three Kambili and History The Kambili epic celebrates the legendary world of Samori Toure, the late nineteenth-century ruler of the Segu Tukulor Empire. Yet, from the thirteenth century world of Sundiata, Seydou Camara brings in the hero Fakoli and, from the twentieth century, he gives his salute to Charles de Gaulle. What then is this 'heroic age' around which the bard builds his song? The argwnents for a static or frozen 'heroic period' are particularly weak.when tested on Seydou Camara's Kambili. Drawing his references from the thirteenth century world of Fakoli, the nineteenth century world of Samori Toure, and the twentieth century world of Charles de Gaulle (who is not even Mandinka), the poet is celebrating valor as an ideal, rather than the specific age in which it is exemplified. The composers ofheroic poetry are not really interested in chronology and probably know very little about it; instead they are interested in the things history reveals: values, ideals, and the dangers attending to these. In a society where media (e.g., mass communication infrastructure) is limited, it is usually the oral poet who is responsible for offering a firm foundation to both past and present cultural influences, that may otherwise have been treated simply as passing fancies, and thus allowed to die. 47 48 The authenticity of the character Samori Toure, in Kambili, is exemplary. Sam.ori Toure functions in the story as an interlinking, repetitive, bound motif: one without which this particular narrative could not be told. A bound motif is one that cannot be omitted without disturbing the entire causal-chronological course of events. It is from this perspective that the aspect ofhistoricity can be addressed-especially when we consider that Samori is (to my knowledge) the only historically verifiable character in the work. Appealing to history, momentarily, it can be shown rather easily why Samori Toure functions as such an important, controlling, structural motifand unifying thematic thread throughout the work. Michael Crowder's West African Resistance "The Military Response to Colonial Occupation" contains an article by Yves Person entitled simply, "Ouinea-Samori," an unwitting synecdoche that exhumes for us some of the history surrounding this fascination character. After more than half a century of colonial activity and a complete overthrow of the traditional structures of African society one might expect the earlier periods ofthe country's history to be judged with at least a minimum of objective detachment Far from it: the case of Samori shows that this is not so. In the course of his long career this formidable adversary won the respect and admiration of his enemies the French .... even if they did on occasion misrepresent his actions, and motives the better to influence public opinion in France. He was less fortunate with colonial historians at the beginning of the century, most of them almost totally preoccupied with justifying the French imperial order. In this period Samori was cast in the role 49 of villain and he found himself presented to the world as a cruel sadist dropping with blood (Crowder 1I 1). An ironic portrait, to be sure, when we consider that during this period, the nineteenth century, West Africa was subjected to two great forces: militant Islam from the north and Christian European expansion from the south. That only in the closing years of the nineteenth century was Samori defeated by the French (Anene and Brown 240-41 ). This is very significant, because, in their treatment ofKambili, both Charles Bird, and Isidore Okpewho prepare us for the historical importance and central space that Samori must occupy in the Kambili epic. Granted, Bird notes the many respectful epithets that are applied to Samori, e.g., The lm.an, Toure ni Manjun, Sorcerer Conquering Sorcerer, Hom Viper, NakedButtock Battler, Naked-Chest Battler, Fresh-Heart Cutter and Fresh-Liver Cutter, Great-Head Smasher, The Man-Killer King, Master and others. However, neither Bird, nor Okpewho connect these epithets to the authenticity ofSamori Toure. Inherent in our understanding ofSamori should be such insights as: Samori arouses the highest passions because more than any other leader in pre-colonial Africa he symbolizes heroic and determined resistance to the European conqueror. (Crowder 112) Neither Sam.ori Toure nor his activities were heard ofbefore I 878. He bad built a purely African empire and he bad built it in response to an internal crisis in his own country, not for the simple purpose of resisting the French. Sam.ori built an empire to meet 50 the crisis, which shook the Mandinka world; He would never have had the success he did if he had not found immense popular support among his compatriots. He could never have forged this marvelous instrument, never have united so many disparate elements, without his extraordinarily attractive personality, or the gift of inspiring loyalty and devotion. Among Samori's most trusted generals were griots. Morifing Dian was one of Tome's most trusted collaborators and the only one to accompany him into exile (Hale 45). It is for these, and other reasons praises are composed for the emperor Samori. In fact, "his heroic effort at consolidating warring nations against a common enemy is commemorated in another famous Malinke narrative, The Epic of Samori Toure (Salaam 11 0). Interestingly, Mazisi Kunene, in his Introduction titled "A Zulu Epic" in Emperor Shalca the Great, makes the following comments concerning the southern part of Africa in the early nineteenth century: There have been many outstanding leaders and generals in the African continent, but none captures the imagination as Shaka of Senzangakhona. From a small volunteer army of approximately 200 and a territory that seemed, in comparison with other neighboring states, no more than a small, local district, Shaka built in a period of ten years a formidable standing army of about 60,000 to 70,000 highly trained men. His rule extended over a large part of Southern Africa. (xiii) One's past glories and allegiances are the stuff from which national identity, hubris, and epic literature is made. These 51 resources, important to the process of nation building, are also the structural and thematic material available to the bard. Praises and criticisms of legendary heroes, like Sam.ori and Shaka are a vital part of the thematic formulae used by poets. Universally, epics are recognized as a symbol of the origin, growth and development of the state. Therefore, epic literature will often include actual historic personages, genealogies, and authentic events. Nevertheless, we should not use epic stories, mythic and epic heroes to justify, in the words of Page duBois ''the immutability of humans' impulses to violence and aggression" or "claims about the eternal inevitability ofwar" (34). In fact, the essential Salaam says: No matter how many praise songs were composed for Shaka Zulu, itsombi (poets), a secret cult of Zulu historians remember Shaka as a cruel and relentless tyrant responsible for the decimation of South African populations and the opening of a cleared path for European colonization. Shaka is represented as a hero in official history and as an anti-hero in the records of collective memory: the oral tradition. (149) The violence and mayhem attendant with such epic characters can be explained, aesthetically, structurally, thematically, even politically but certainly not justified, morally or ethically. It does not matter the ''hero" this definition of maleness, of being a man, of heroism sustains our atavism, our backward, primitive nature. In other words, leaning on the work of Page duBois, who notes in her Trojan Horses: "Saving the Classics from Conservatives" that these are contemporary scholars, intellectuals and 52 writers. For example, in his On the Origins of War and the Preservation ofPeace, Donald Kagan is one of the scholars who: use the ancients [traditional or classic European texts [e.g. The Odyssey, The Riadj to justify his sense of the immutability of humans' impulses to violence and aggression, not proving their universality, but through ancient example simply asserting it. The wars of the classical Greeks and Romans provide him with the foundation and the authority for his claims about the eternal inevitability of war. He uses classical antiquity to justify a contemporary politics of military expenditure, interventionism, and American imperial ambitions. His version of ancient history serves his political purposes, while distorting both history and the classics. (duBois 34) The Epic ofKambili is not about war, certainly not war between states or nations. Ifanything it depicts what Mazisi Kunene would refer to as a kind of "reluctant war". That is, at times, "a battle would involve only a single, chosen representative from each side" or conflicts were resolved "by the initiation of national poetry contests and dances" (Kunene xv-xvi). In The Epic of Kambili, this "war" is between Kambili and the lion-man Cekura. Kambili is the hero of this particular song of Seydou Camara and, in the context ofthis story, is called upon to exhibit his ability to restore, if only mythically or symbolically, the ancient empire of the Mandinka people, to its deserved grandeur. Quite often the strength of a culture is fully reflected in the exploits of its epic hero. Kambili (symbolically) is being asked to restore harmony to disharmony and order to chaos. 53 When Camara sings of Samori, or when he sings ofKambili, he's creating an artistic image of revolutionary Africa, the embodiment in word of a new, self-aware African personality. It is promulgated, by word and example, to Camara's contemporaries and kinsmen: "that is what you ought to be like. The age in which we live demands it. The world at whose birth we are all present needs it" (Fischer 47). Besides actual historical events and personages, what are some of the other resources of the oral narrative process? The unfixed nature of oral composition/performance makes it clear that the poet is trained in the rigid use of memory, and in the flexible technique of improvisation. Since the song is composed ''in" and not "for" a performance, the poet is likely to be content that other ingredients of his craft (music, drama, histrionics, etc.) will make up for the incidental irregularities and inaccuracies of historical "fact" along the way. The poet, of oral narrative epics, must also acquire an eXtensive repertoire of songs, in order to sharpen his poetic skill. The editors of The Mwindo Epic tell us, "the expert narrators and singers may know a fairly large number of texts." (Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo Madam 6) And the editors of Kambili say the following of the repertoire of the Mandinka bard: A typical evenings performance will include songs for amusement and dancing, ritual songs which can be danced only by those who have performed certain deeds and, at the close of evening, an epic song of one of the many hunter heroes. We have recorded twelve epic performances ofSeydou Camara and well over fifty ofhis songs. (Bird ix) 54 One of the essential resources for the training of the singer (for such is the name these oral poets most often give themselves), is the process of acquiring an extensive repertory of songs. The foundation of the formulary technique, described by Milman Parry, resides in the fact that the bard has a vast number of tales or lays from which to draw easily deployable phrases and themes. Homer too has been credited with quite a few songs. Within The Odyssey, we get a picture of the bard's varied repertory, when Demodokos sings ofthe Trogan experience ofthe Achaeans, and draws tears from Odysseus. Milman Parry, in The Making of Homeric Verse, embellishes this concern when he writes: It is my own view ....that the nature of Homeric poetry can be grasped only when one has seen that it is composed in a diction which is oral, and so formulaic, and so traditional . . . . .Not having the device of pen or paper which, as he composed, would hold his partly formed thought in safekeeping ... he makes his verses by choosing from a vast number offixed phrases which he has heard in the poems of other poets. . . . .The young poet learns from some older singer not simply the general style of the poetry, but the whole formulaic diction. This he does by hearing and remembering many poems, until the diction has become for him the habitual mode of poetic thought. (Parry 328) Among the Mandinka, the traditional path of training griots and griottes was from father to son or mother to daughter though there were exceptions. Their compositions are "oral ... formulaic and 55 traditional." As caste artisans, griots and griottes are considered "a separate people in the minds of the people among whom they live" (Hale 201). Therefore, "a child born into a griot family is exposed to both the values and the sounds of griot life on a daily basis" (173). From a very early age, griot children are taught to recognize that they have a special status. It is said that every time an old African dies, "another museum disappears." Ominously, Christopher Miller of Yale University's Department of African and African-American Studies declares "The current generation of 'griot depositaries'---oral historians fully trained in the traditional way-may well be the last" (71 ). Chapter Four The Hero of the Epie A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region ofsupernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellowman. (Campbell30) The above conception of the hero, and of heroic prowess, is widely spread and, despite its different settings and manifestations, shows the same main characteristics from culture to culture (Bird 123). The hero is frequently a formidable. selfcentered, and disruptive character; but he also has moments in which he feels a tremendous concern for his fellows and instincts oflove. When Seydou Camara sings, ''The hero is welcome only on troubled days" he captures the contradictory relationship between the hero and the society. The hero is asocial, capable of unrestricted cruelty and destructiveness, whose presence is always a threat to the stability of the collectivity. He is however, perhaps the only member associated with the group who is capable of swift and conclusive action. (Bird vii) 57 58 The society is thus damned with the hero and damned without him. His relationship to society is concomitantly gregarious and antagonistic. Bird further points out that, in Mandinka society, the ability to perform deeds is linked to an energy called nyama, the energy of action. This energy can both protect and destroy the performer of deeds. Therefore, much of the occult science in this area is focused on the control and manipulation of this energy. Talismans, medications, incantations, and fetishes are designed for the augmentation and appeasement of the energy of action. The hunter, being a man of action, must become a specialist in occult science. Much of the content of Kambili is devoted to the occult (Bird viii). An oral poet, like Seydou Camara, endeavors to represent certain balancing elements without which the society in which the hero lives will cease to exist. The balancing factor may consist in love, loyalty, friendship, power or forgiveness. Kambili is a formidable and invincible hero, the 'hope of the group,' and the salvation of the community is ensured by his marriage to Kumba. Johnson notes that, "there is a strong folk belief among many of the people in Mali that a hero is destined to fulfill a role. The hero does not represent a role model of morality. He may have to violate social norms in order to fulfill his destiny'' (42). Indeed, some of the praise-names employed for Kambili, like those for Son-Jara, do not portray compassion but rather the opposite: "Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy" and "Cracker of Green Heads and Gouger of Green Eyes!" But, not only that, it is prophesied that: "He will not only be a hunter, He will be a lionkilling hunter. He will save your regiments, He will rescue all our sons, And rescue the champion fanners, And rescue all the wood gatherers" (I. 409-413). There is the use of the same Mandinka 59 proverb in The Epic of Kambili as in Son-Jara, expressing the same ambiguous relationship between hero and community: Nana ma man di fo ko-jugu-lon. The hero is welcome only on troubled days. Charles Bird and Martha Kendall in writing about "The Mande Hero" in Explorations in African Systems ofThought state: The (Mande) hero is someone with special powers used to work against the stabilizing and conservative forces of his society; he is someone who, in pursuing his own destiny, affects the destinies of others. He is the agent of disequilibrium. (13) Mande peoples, it appears, depend on the individual who resists conformity,just as much as individuals who do not conform. They realize that they require the individual who will change things, even if such changes are potentially destructive (15). Approaching the hero from the standpoint of his origins, the hero of epic poetry, invariably, has the advantages of birth that set him above the rank and file. Sundiata, a historical figure, was the son of a king and later a Mansa (emperor). The hero, Kambili, is the son of Kanji, a general of emperor Samori Toure, to whom Kanji is particularly close. Mwindo, of The Mwindo Epic, is the son of the king of Tubondo. Achilles is a prince, son of King Peleus and son of the goddess Thetis, a sea-nymph. Gilgamesh is King of Uruk, two-thirds god and one-third man. 60 The emergence of the hero into the world is usually marked by some awe or mystery; there is often something portentous, something foreordained, about his entry into the world, or into his sphere of action. In Kambili, there is this sense of foreboding. Kambili is the subject of a painful trial of skill in which several soothsayers lose their heads: because, though their magic symbols describe the coming of a male child, they are unable to name which of Kanji's wives will be the mother of the hero child. The bag is only for signs. It does not know people's names. (376-377) All the soothsayers are agreed that the awaited child will be "a vicious hunter," the ''hope of the group," and "invincible." Kambili's "career'' in the womb of his mother, Dugo, is itself portentous: And after nightfall around about midnight, Dugo' s Kambili would get up and walk about. As the dawn was lightening, He would come back And throw himselfback down on his mother's mat as If nothing happened. Mother! she cried, Mother! During the day, here I am Dugo pregnant. During the night, here I am Dugo with empty stomach. I can do no more with this thing inside me, Mother. (1520-1528) 61 The hero Mwindo follows a similar career while he is in his mother's womb. "Where the child (Mwindo) was dwelling in the womb,.it climbed up in the belly, it descended the limb, and it went (and) came out through the medius. In the Homeric poems, fantastic births are set amid meteorological turmoil similar to that seen in Sundiata. Suddenly the sky darkened and great clouds coming from the east hid the sun, although it was still the diy season. Thunder began to rumble and swift lightning accompanied by a dull rattle of thunder burst out of the east and lit up the whole sky as far as the west Then the rain stopped and the sun appeared and it was at this very moment that a midwife came out of Sogolon's house, ran to the antechamber and announced to Nare' Maghan that he was the father of a boy. (13) Prophecy, foreordination, and foreboding seem to be core cliches in the thematic structure of epic narrative. The Kambili Epic is well seasoned with references like, "Look to him born for a purpose, for him coming for a purpose." By his ancestry, his birth, and his early development, the hero gives us an awesome promise of things to come. At the moment of the hero's recognition and proclamation of his powers, the poetic fancy of the bard is fully activated. Such a moment comes, in the Kambili epic, during the celebrations ofthe 62 wedding between Kambili and his bride Kumba. When the hero Cekura, he merely is told ofthe bloody rampage of the lion-~ responds that the lion-man is a push-over: They bad thus finished the wedding procession. The wedding speeches had been given, Allah!, When the message bad been given to Kambili, It was none but the hunter Kambili' s voice: "This man-eating lion, Allah! If the man-eating lion is going to die, .... Ah! If the man-eating lion is going to die in Jimini, The lion is going to die with one shot in Jiminil" (2091-2098) The hero may not always die from the risks that he takes; in fact, epic poetry usually depicts a victorious hero. Characterization, per se, bas little relevance for the bard of traditional heroic song. The oral poet combines a sense of spontaneity with an equivalent attitude of selectivity. The poet of oral epic cannot do well otherwise. In such a poem, the interest is national rather than individual. The hero's survival is a metaphor for the nation and of its invincibility and durability. Because Kambili, Mwindo, and Odysseus survive is no less heroic than a tragic end. To suggest that heroism is better conveyed by naked strength, than by the aide ofmagic or other supernatural devices, represents a misunderstanding of imaginative literature. Okpewho bas appropriately commented: We cannot, in fact, fully appreciate the heroic personality without examining the supernatural dimensions of that personality. We are unlikely to find many traditions of the oral epic in which the hero achieves his amazing feats by sheer force ofnaked 63 human strength. And considering that, in many of these epic tales, the denizens of the supernatural world are treated with considerable dramatic interest-gods and spirits participating in the action of the tal&-rather than simply as figures of speech, it becomes hard to accept any definition of "true heroism" that underrates the influence ofthe supernatural in the personality and circumstances ofthehero. (Okpewho 105-106) Sometimes, however, divine intervention is not so obvious, and what emerges is a picture designed to give heightened interest to the superlative might of the hero. When this happens, the hero is represented as the wielder of a supreme magical power. He has tremendous confidence in his own innate might, and the supernatural element in that might is employed "to ritualize" his optimism. There is an interesting example ofthis conflict between the natural and supernatural in KambUi, where the dialectic of Islam and cult magic, faintly evident inSundiata, is quite obvious. This particular dialectic is revealed by some of the gnomic, or aphoristic lines with which the tale is strategically highlighted. At one time it's that: Allah is not powerless before anything. (86) At another time the bard showers his praise on the superior power of magic and the occult: Look to the talisman's Angel of Death for that not easy for all. The praise for Tears of the game. No man becomes a hunter if he has no good talisman. You don't become a hunter if you have no knowledge of the occult. (2406-2409) 64 Kambili reflects some ofthis history ofcontradiction, between the Islamic crusade and the traditional outlook, in the Western Sudan. In a number of places in the song, there is conspicuous mockery of Islamic figures and attitudes as a way of revealing their inadequacies in comparison with the powers ofthe occult, for example: Ah! All the holy men are by the mosque, But all of them are not holy men! .... All the holy men are by the mosque, But they all don't know to read. (1192-1193 and 2004-2005) In another instance, a Muslim holy man, who takes part in the Kambili riddle, is treated as a tremendous fraud and schemer and is dismissed from the scene in disgrace, to the advantage of Bari the cult sorcerer. The case we have here must be one where the heroic personality is conceived as supreme, in a world where all mystical or spiritual power is simply the tool of that supremacy; so that in spite of the obtrusive tributes to 'Allah' and 'destiny' construed in vaguely Muslim terms and serving an equally vaguely gnomic purpose, the essential mystical force of the story emphasizes the hero's superior might unsubordinated to any vague transcendences. (Bird 109) The world in which the hero lives is a somewhat more than human one, and he needs more than the ordinary human accouterments to cope with it. 65 Of the Homeric songs Okpewho states: . . . rebel or not, Achilles owes his excellence to the supernatural element in his personality-whether we see this as Zeus' goodwill or Achilles' own part-divine parentage--and perhaps the uniqueness of the Homeric songs lies in the skill with which the poet bas reduced the supernatural nuances to anthropomorphic terms. (Bird 112-113) ~ hero is invariably engaged in a cause, which involves the interest ofhis community. Even before his birth, the image of the hero is conceived in terms that demonstrate a community's concern for itself in relation to the hero. One expert soothsayer invited to predict the circumstances of the birth of Kambili has this to say to Samori, the arbiter of the divination: He will save your regiments, He will rescue all our good sons, And rescue the champion farmers, And rescue all the wood gatherers. (410-413) The final proof of Kambili's heroic promise comes at the moment of his triumph over the communal crisis. Kambili destroys the lion-man, Cekura, with a single blast of his rifle; in gratitude the hunters (the cult-group which the epic celebrates), raise him up, above their shoulders, and salute his prowess: 66 You have taken us from under the execution sword Kambili. You have rescued the hunter, And saved the farmers, And saved the whole army. May Allah not keep you behind. May Allah not take the breath from you, Kambili. (2615-2620) Kambili represents a character in whom the virtue and, perhaps, the failure of living is superhumanly concentrated: a character who represents the highest ideals to which a society can aspire in its search for excellence and security. "Furthermore" says Joseph Campbell: we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we bad thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we sball be with all the world. (25) Chapter Five Poet and Accompanists The oral poet develops a repertory of repeatable images and, at an early stage in his development, a flexible structure; the images chosen from the repertory are repeated, as frequently as necessary and desirable, to develop a narrative plot. The form is that of formulaic repetition: the repeated praise or proverb with necessary prose details: and expansible images that by repetition, move the story forward (Scheub 357). In Kambili, this repetition takes the form of formulaic epithets and proverbs: Skinning knife of the game (23) And: The hero is only welcome on troubled days (988) And proverbs, e.g.: A name is paid for; a name is not to be foroed (1039) And dramatic chants: Master, you filled them with knowledge Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (2026-2027) 67 68 And historical personages, such as Samori Toure: all of which serve as the structural resources and dynamic themes that organize and move the narrative forward. Repetition is also the consequence of, inspired, spontaneity and improvisation; a result of the poet being so thoroughly overjoyed by the appropriateness of a phrase that he is moved to repeat it over and over. In such a case, it becomes clear that the text is the product of an oral performance in which, perhaps, the poet used a musical instrument to support the lyrical feeling engendered by the happy statement. Voice, tone, and rhythm often the attitude of the speaker or narrator to the subject matter r~veal ofawork. The poet, is not without a certain amount ofpride, and Seydou Camara has several lines, in Kambili, which give due consideration to his abilities as an oral poet, for example: Ahl It's the voice of Seydou! The thing is not easy for all. It's the sound ofbarp-playing Seydou from Kabaya. (51-53) Some bards attribute their creative powers to a divine source. The Mandinka griot traces the source of his art to a certain Sourakata, who was the closest companion and aide of the Prophet Mohammed. Ancient Malian society is, generally, reputed to have come from Mecca, and the griot who shared the counsels of his lord, naturally, saw himself in the position that Sourakata held with Mohammed. (Okpewho 48) Such claims tend to reinforce the bard's tremendous selfesteem and concern for his image. A Mandinka bard may consider himself, and no one else, the chosen one in his craft, com- 69 missioned by divine powers to deliver the ''truth" in song. The self-aggrandizement may be a presumption or, simply, a defense mechanism against injured pride, in today's Africa. In the more communalistic world of the olden days, this attitude helped the bard assert his claim to value and usefulness among his kinsmen. The histrionic resources ofthe Homeric songs are functionally unknown to us, largely because the texts we have today are the product of several generations of careful doctoring (Bird 56). In traditional African songs, heroic and otherwise, music is ''the thing,'' it is the "soul of the griot''. Without the right rhythm, the narrator seems to lose the thread of his inspiration. In the Kambili epic, the performance is punctuated throughout with Seydou Camara's comments on the music and warnings to his accompanist (See Appendix 1). And when he is pleased, when he is getting the right rhythmic backing, he acknowledges this with such compliments as: Ah! Allah has been good to harp-playing Seydou. Playing before the European is not easy for all. The strings have been good to the Kabaya smith. (278-280) The poet depends on music and rhythmic accompaniment for the success ofhis performance. The role of words is considerably modified and controlled. Okpewho contends that the music can attain to such a remarkable degree that the need for words is drastically reduced. His reference is to some areas of West Africa, where the "talking drum" is used as an accompaniment, as among the Yoruba ofNigeria and the Akan of Ghana, numerous phrases may well be delivered on the drum. (Bird 62) 70 The narrator in The Mwindo Epic accompanies himself with a rattle, and a percussion stick, and musicians and percussionists keep up with the rhythm, while bumming and singing as the bard progresses. Seydou Camara's accompaniment is a six-stringed harp-lute as well as a ridged metal pipe which is scraped by an iron rod, and a complex rhythmic support given by the bard's voice. Homer speaks of the bard accompanying his song on the lyre. The lay in Beowulf is played to a harp. And the Yugoslav singer uses a gusle, a simple one-string violin. That the songs of Homer are indebted to the oral tradition is abundantly clear, from both their structural character, i.e. epithets, meter and rhyme, and the heroic outlook they reveal. The Bowraist problem of the superiority or inferiority of words or music in heroic poetry is moot or, at most, dissolves into complementariness in the African situation. Seydou Camara's warning to his Ibythm man is illustrative: Man, pay attention to the rhythm! Don't miss the rhythm whatever you dol (1985-1986) It is impossible to say that, in any particular culture, the music is subordinate to language or vice versa. Seydou Camara demonstrates that in the oral epic of the Mandinka, meter and verse can be achieved by the use of breath groups or breath bars. If not accompanying him or herself, a griot or griottes may be accompanied by musicians playing a kora and/or balafon. Mandinka balafon players begin to learn to play as early as four years old, but don't sing or recite until they have proved their talents on the instrument. The balafon is a xylophone made of a series of about twenty harmoniously tuned hardwood bars, or keys, resting on a bamboo 71 frame under which are suspended small calabashes as resonators. Hale explains: The balafon appears to be a clearly defined masculine instrument, perhaps because of its origin in the oral tradition of the Sundiata epic or because it is an instrument that requires a certain amount of strength to cany and play with any vigor, a reflection of men's selfimage as the stronger sex. (163) Ensembles composed of a kora, xalam, balafon, and nege, or tidinit, ardin, t'bal, and tambourine are typical (163). Men, also, only play the kora. Eric Charry in Mande Music shows it may have been invented somewhere in the Senegambian region, apparently by the Mand.inka of the Gabu empire, which included parts of The Gambia, southern Senegal, and Guinea Bissau .... The most widespread definition of kora is 'harp-lute' (115). It is one ofthe most delicate and complex instruments in the world. To learn to play the twenty-one stringed Ieora and chant an epic for five hours takes years of training. Roderic Knight, in his research on professional Mand.inka griots and griottes provides this thorough and detailed description of the kora: The body is made from a large half calabash, from 40-50 centimeters in diameter, covered with cowhide from which the hair has been removed. The covering reaches two thirds of the way around the curved sides of the calabash, leaving a shallow dome of the natural surface exposed. The covered portion of the calabash wall is decorated with upholstery tacks in geometric or pictorial 72 designs A second hole, either round or square, is also cut in this decorated band, near where the right hand holds the instrument. The player traditionally sits on the floor, holding the instrument with the cowhide facing him and the rounded back ofthe calabash facing the listeners. The neck, or falo -a stout pole of African rosewood-towers above him at 120-130 centimeters. The neck pierces or "spikes" the body vertically and the lower end forms a tailpiece on which the instrument rests. The player holds the instrument by two wooden handgrips flanking the neck and parallel to it, and plucks the strings with the forefingers and thumbs. The handgrips are long, extending beneath the skin to the lower rim of the body where they reappear. They bear the pressure exerted by the bridge, which rests between them and above a crossbar that is also pinned behind the skin. In addition to their practical function, the handgrips can be decorative as well. They are usually cut longer than necessary and carved. In addition, the right handgrip has a musical function: some pieces call for the player to strike it with the forefinger, producing a resonant thump-a technique called bulukondingo podi. The strings (julo), made of graded strengths of nylon monofilament line, are attached to the neck via rawhide collars (konso) woven in a "Tmk' s Head" knot. The instrument is tuned by adjusting the collars up or down. Stretching from these collars to an iron ring at the base of the instrument, the strings diverge into two rows and pass over notches cut in the sides of the upright bridge (bato). At this point the two rows are essentially parallel to each other, with eleven strings on the left, ten on the right. From the iron ring at the base, forged and then burned into place by a blacksmith, anchor strings 73 reach up to meet the playing strings. Each playing string is tied to its anchor string with a weaver's knot just below the bridge. Before the importation of nylon fishing line in the mid-twentieth century, kora strings were made from rawhide. The laborious process involved cutting long thin strips, twisting them to Form a round cross-section, then stretching each one on a bow to d.cy. (Hale 154-155) Today, Toumani Diabate born and raised in Bamako, Mali has a reputation for being one ofthe most creative kora players of his generation, with five CDs to his credit, linked to a tradition requiring a high level of expertise and dexterity. The Mande Variations is a meditation on formidable technique and incredible musicianship. Born into a leading family of Mande griot musicians in Mali, he is the son ofthe most celebrated kora player of his time, Sidiki Diabate (1922-96) known as the "king of the kora." Mande Variations further establishes this Mandinka harp as one of the world's great solo musical instruments. Eric Charry informs us "in Mande society, Jelis (Griots and Griottes) have the exclusive right to play certain instruments that others do not take up. It is their birthright, honed by years of apprenticeship" (49). The eminent and essential Charles Bird tells us in Oral Epics from Africa: When the recording ofKambili was made in the spring of 1968, Seydou was about fifty years old. He had begun playing indigenous instruments of the Wasulu region as a young boy and had shown considerable promise, particularly on the dan, a six-stringed lute. He began his interest in the donsonkoni, the hunter's lute-harp, through his initiation and extensive interest in the Komo societies 74 of the Wasulu region .... Seydou gradually ... devoted himself exclusively to playing the hunter's lute-harp, serving as a singer for the Wasulu hunters and as a bard for the Komo society. By 1953 he had developed his art to such an extent that he drew the attention of the influential deputy, Jime Jakite. Jakite brought him to a major political rally in Sikasso, where Seydou won the hunter's bard competition which elevated him to national celebrity. Spealdng is not easy,· Not being able to speak is not easy. I'm doing something I've learned, I'm not doing something I was bomfor. (20882090) He recorded a number of songs for the national radio and his voice was frequently heard on Radio Mali's broadcasts ... in the mid-1960s.... Seydou earned his living performing for hunters and their associations at their festivals, funerals, weddings, and baptisms, traveling to many of the major towns in southern Mali: Segu, Kutiala, Sikaso, Buguni. He got little for his services, usually receiving a worosongo, the price of kola nuts (between one and two dollars), a traditional gift usually given as a greeting gesture. He performed wherever and whenever he could, often up to twenty times per month. The most important part of Seydou's poetics was rhythm. He created his lines, unfolded his narratives against the rhythm of his Donsonkoni, which itself was dependent on the forceful drive of the iron rasp scraper, among whom the best were his wives, Kariya Wulen and Nunmuso. Seydou's apprentices played the bass lines on their donsonkonis and Seydou played across the top. Seydou laid his language over the top of this as if his 75 voice were the lead instrument in the ensemble, sometimes locking into the rhythm, sometimes in counterpoint, sometimes somewhere in between. (100101) Charles Bird further identifies griot Seydou Camara as "a consummate musician" whose mastery of the lute-harp is legendary and classical. He was a Muslim, but had no problem ridiculing the Muslim clergy "whose hypocrisy he saw as ludicrous" (103). Other histrionic or theatrical devices employed by Camara, serve to reinforce certain idiophones or onomatopoeia used in describing actions and movements to humorous effect. InKambili, he employs such a device as he describes the cumbersome motions of two villainous women, "galump, galump, galump". There is less of a accent on words than on the circumstances surrounding their delivery. In Africa, the performance, not the tale, is the thing. There is considerably less emphasis on the narrative element, in favor of an accentuation of other elements, which give the performance its dominant flavor: for example drama, music, and audience participation. In their effort to classify mankind in different types, the Manidinka narrator, or griot, gives a special place to those men who live for action, and for the honor which comes from it. They seem to believe that the life of action is superior to the pursuit of profit or the gratification of the senses, and that the man who seeks honor is himself an honorable figure. In several instances, in Kambili, Seydou Camara substantiates this view. For example: 76 The jealous one doesn't become a hunter. A woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter. (1 02 and 104) Chapter Six Modes and Methods of Composition in Kambili When considering the art of composition of the oral epic, we must constantly bear in mind the live moment of performance: with its music, histrionic resources, the emotional relationship between singer and audience, as well as the occasion of perfonnance. Each performance is the product of one specific moment or context and, in a creative tradition of the oral epic, is never faithfully repeated (Bird 135). Okpewho writes: Though there are some fixed structural laws which the narrative must obey by the nature of its oral medium, the results of any perfonnance depends mainly on the particular audience before whom the singer performs and the mood and atmosphere in which he does the job. (Okpewho 174) How absolute is the "formula" approach of Milman Parry? The idea that a "group of words is regularly employed under the same metrical conditions to express a given idea." (Parry 269) Okpewho believes that Parry is correct in establishing the formula as a basically mnemonic unit of oral composition; and that, 77 78 From a stock of phrases and lines which tradition and long use have stored in the bard's memory, he constructs fresh lines and scenes and in that way supports the overall fabric ofhis tale. (Okpewho 138) He is careful to note, however, that African verse tales have, so far, shown none of the Homeric rigidity, but the formula is surely a feature of oral composition among African bards of heroic poetry. Seydou Camara's Kambili furnishes a variety of examples. Okpewho identifies, as the simplest type of formula, the 'nounadjective combination'; the combination of noun (e.g. name) and epithet or identification (e.g., patronymic or qualitative). Such a formula is the phrase "Kambili Sananfila," a simple namepatronymic formula of the type, "Beowult son ofEcgtheow." Other noun-epithet formulas, which occur frequently in Kambili, are ''Mother Dugo the Owl" and "Toure ni Manjun," which combines name with totemic symbol. In Sundiata, Alexander the Great is called "King of gold and silver," in The Riad we get "Agamemnon King ofmen" and "Hector tamer ofhorses": and in Mwindo, we have the hero's untiring reference to himself as "Little-one-just-born-he-walked." In Kambili, the formulaic phrase is not restricted to the nounepithet combination. There are several examples in which a verbal matrix has been used for the construction of gnomes or praiseproverbs often occurring consecutively for several lines. The following is illustrative: 79 Look to the doorsill for the sight of all things. Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing behind. Look to the salt for the success of the sauce. Salute the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. (11-14) Okpewho explains these lines as consisting of a verb or verb phrase ("Look to" or "Salute") and a conjunction (''for"), a pattern to be given more thorough treatment in my discussion of the structure of praise in Kambili. Other functional phrases built roughly on the pattern of Homer's ''winged words," help in constructing the main body of the narrative. By one such pattern the bard initiates dialogue. The fonnula for this is: He said," ... .!" "Yes?" the reply. On this pattern has been constructed the beginnings of dialogues between characters in various scenes in the story. Between Samori Toure' and Kanji (Kambili 1), between Samori Toure' and one of the soothsayers, the sandal-man (Kambili 18) and between Cekura and the other lion-man (Kambili 71 ). These examples, of the calland-response formula, are all contained in one line. The prosody of Kambili has a quite different basis from that ofthe Homeric epics. The metric line ofthe hunter's bards, among the Mandinkaofthe western Sudan, as among the Akan of Ghana, and the Yoruba of Nigeria, is built on the basis of "breathgroups": what this entails is that the bard endeavors to get in as many words as he can within a single breath, so long as this is done within individual segments of the rhythmic accompaniment from the background music. Charles Bird has described the 80 process as follows. First Samori Toure' invites the man to solve the child riddle, and the pattern of request is clearly a thematic one: (a)He spoke to the black bag man "Man, come help me in this child affair." He came with his black bag ....•. (304-306) (b)He called to the cowry thrower. "Come help me with this child affair, You have no equal in reading omens," Well, the cowry thrower came. He came with his winnowing basket, And came with his ten and two ... (399-404) (c) He called out to the old sandal-man. "Come help me in this child affair, You who speak the bitter truth. Hurry the old sandal-man along, Allah!" The old sandal-man came. He brought a piece ofbalenbon bark, And the rib of a ram, With a cowry on the top of his head ....(440-447) Each soothsayer answers the same variation on the idea that his particular sign or tool cannot speak but is only a symbol. Their execution is also thematically described as the emperor Samori orders their death by his extraordinary sword. Formulaic themes are useful for the horizontal growth of the story. Like his counterparts in the Greek and South Slavic heroic traditions, the West African bard uses themes frequently to keep his story in unimpeded motion and stylistic harmony. The bard is free to decide the mix of the three modes in any particular performance. Charles Bird is important, as is Gordon 81 Innes, for their identification and description of the three poetic modes of the Mandinka epic. With slight variation they refer to these three modes as (1) the proverb-praise mode, (2) the narrative mode, and (3) the song mode. In the following two sections we will take an in-depth look at the praise-proverb mode. The narrative mode tells the stoJ:y and for that the reader is referred to the synopsis: and the song mode, I~ is self-explanatory. The essential metrical requirement is that the singer keeps in rhythm with his instrumental accompaniment. He may therefore form lines of one syllable or fifty syllables, depending very much on his virtuosity in rapid speech, and his subtlety in weaving the mythms of his language around those ofhis instruments. The singer can play with background mythm by forming couplets or even longer verses. (Bird 283) The metrical character of the poetic line, in Mandinka epic, is based on the rhythmic accompaniment provided by, at least, one six-stringed harp-lute. The base rhythm is a complex variation of a 4:4 rllythm with accents on the second and fourth beats. Enjambments are the rule rather than the exception, and a set of lines produced as a single breath group often will incorporate five to ten of the lines (Bird X). Formulaic lines are most applicable in what Milman Parry has called the ''theme"; what Albert Lord has defined as a recurrent element of narration or description in traditional oral poetry. Theme is not restricted, as is formula, by metrical considerations. Rather, the essential element in the theme is the idea that it embodies. Kmnbtli exhibits numerous examples of the theme pattern. The most notable ofthese involve the trial of skill Samori 82 Tome' set up for various soothsayers. The issue concerns who, among Kanji's nine wives, will be mother of the hero-child, Kambili. The theme bas become the appropriate unit of narration here because the contestants are going to be subjected to the same question, will fail the test on the same significant point ofthe hero's mother's name, and will be given the same order of execution. The words and the order of lines are not exactly the same in all cases, but there is a high level of similarity such as would qualify them for classification as themes. (Okpewho 144) Like his counterparts in the Greek and South Slavic heroic traditions, the West African bard uses themes frequently to keep his story in unimpeded motion and stylistic harmony. "When the fool is told a proverb, its meaning has to be explained to him." Kambili has received genuine, full, and penetrating analysis and commentary from Charles Bird and Isidore Okpewho. One of the strongest aspects ofBird's work, aside from the methods by which The Tales ofSeydou Camara was researched, taped, and presented in its final form, is his description of the three poetic modes ofthe epic. These he calls (1) the proverb-praise mode, (2) the narrative mode, and (3) the song mode. In the text itself, the proverb-praise mode is set off in italics, the narrative mode, in Roman script, is indented, and the song-mode is further indented with song choruses still further indented. For the English reader, this provides a viable, and readily identifiable, structural coher- 83 ence to the work as a whole. What, for purposes of this analysis, I have identified as aphorisms, i.e., a short sentence expressing a wise or clever observation comes closest to Bird's designation of the ''proverb-praise mode." I have elected to concentrate on the proverbial (aphoristic) aspect ofthis mode in this section, and the praise aspect in the next section. The bard decides, somewhat extemporaneously, the mix of the three modes in any particular performance. In the following pages, I will examine (1) the meaning and recurrence of aphorisms, (2) the patterns ofnarrative symmetry they create, and (3) show how they are vehicles for the expression of ideas central to the meaning of Kambili. Proverbs, aphorisms, a method used to make general observations on life, demonstrate the bard's virtuosity in rapid speech, and his claim to truth. Aphorisms are also used as a handy device for giving the oral composer/performer a few moments' break from the narrative, to collect his thoughts for the next part of the story. The bard employs aphorisms, most noticeably at the beginning of his narrative, to tune up his vocal and mental acumen, to warm up his audience, and to establish his veracity and authenticity. The three aphorisms that follow are exemplary: Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed. A man's learning and his ability are not the same. Harp-playing Seydou ofKabaya has come. Falsety is not good, Master (36-39). In a long narrative like Kambili, the poet will use as many as one hundred fifty different aphorisms, or proverbs. Isidore Okpewho has made a comparative study of the epic, using Sundiata, The Mwindo Epic, and Kambili, and non-African 84 materials consisting of The Riad, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and the Parry-Lord collection of Serbo-Croatian heroic songs. The question raised (and answered) by Okpewho is: just how relevant is the formula approach of Milman Parry in the treatment of African oral literature? Okpewho' s answer is that African "verse" tales do not show any of the Homeric rigidity, but the formula is a feature of oral composition among African bards of the heroic narrative song. He writes that: The formulaic phrase in Kambili is not restricted to the noun-epithet combination. We also have several examples in which a verbal matrix has been used for the construction ofgnomes or praise-proverbs often occwring consecutively for several lines (139). The following is good example of a formulaic proverb using a verbal matrix: Look to the doorsill for the sight of all things. Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing behind. Look to the salt for the success of the sauce. Salute the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells (11-14). The recitation of several (more than three) aphoristic phrases, consecutively, is evident in this opening part of the story, as the poet tries to build up the pace of his performance, as well as articulate the basic ideas and didactic themes imbued in the epic of Kambili. Such expressions regularly used, under similar metrical and thematic conditions, justify their definition as 85 "aphoristic-formula"; that is, the synthesis of two literary elements, the aphorism and the formula. Together, these function as one of the basic mnemonic devices providing direction and meaning to the synchronic and diachronic development of the narrative. Synchronic, as I am using it here, refers to the page-topage growth of the story, and diachronic refers to the cover-tocover perception of the story. The art of composition of Kambili is oral, spontaneous, formulaic and traditional. It is the product of a live moment of performance, with its music, histrionics, the emotional relationship between the singer and his audience, as well as occasion. Each performance is the product of one specific social occasion, and in the creative oral tradition of the Mandinka people of the Western Sudan, two versions of the same narrative are rarely identical. What survives of this tradition comes to us at two removes, translated from an oral traditional performance into print and from an African language into English. My lack of familiarity with the original language means that I am obliged to ignore matters of word play, e.g., myme, alliteration and assonance, and other elements of verbal art that would materially inform the organizational patterns ofthe work, in favor ofthis more manifest stylistic element, the aphorism. The ideas the bani wishes to convey to his audience are the result of narrative, song, and aphoristic formula, the latter being a laconic simplification of the moral and didactic message incorporated in the work as a whole. Plot is revealed through the more verbose, when compared with the precision ofthe aphorism, narrative-mode. There are numerous examples of the narrativemode inKambili, but these are all incised with an appropriate, less 86 intellectually complex, aphorism. A noticeable example of the incisiveness of the aphorism involves the trial of skill which Samori Toure' sets up for the various soothsayers on the issue of who, among Kanji's nine wives, will be the mother of the herochild, Kambili. He spoke to the omen reader, and spoke to the cowry thrower. He spoke to the great holy man. He spoke to the man of the Koran. "Come help me in this child affair, those of you who speak with Allah." He spoke to the spirit master. "Come help mien this child affair, those of you who know the cowries, So that Kanji can have a child." (215-224) As Samori ends his call for help from the various sorcerers, the bard poignantly inserts an aphorism: He spoke: "Ah! Master! The thing is not easy for all." He spoke: "The man ofthe house and the man ofthe bush are not one." (225-226) This aphorism makes a decisive distinction between the sorcerers, i. e., "The (men) of the house," and the hunters, ''the (men) of the bush." The sorcerers are subjected to the same question; they fail the test on the same significant point ofthe hero's mother's name, and are executed. It is only Bari, the sorcerer-hunter, who is able to give the name of the hero's mother. The narrative mode tells this story and the aphorism accentuates the essential theme and idea it conveys. 87 The recurrence of aphorisms creates a pattern of narrative symmetry in which the story of Kambili is placed. The list of aphorisms in the first forty-four lines of the poem provides some ofthe essential thematic parameters ofthe story. Selectively, these are, with the frequency of their recurrence: # 5 5 6 1 2 1 1 5 2 3 1 A slave passes a late evening, A slave doesn't stay long among you. (5-6) Then look to the tracking dog for the hunting dog. Look to the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. Look to the doorsill for the sight of all things. Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing behind Look to the salt for the success of the sauce. (9-13) A coward doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A women chaser doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A jealous husband doesn't become a hunter, The mourner never leaves the house. (26-31) The hidden brave is up to no good. A man dies, he never ends his problems. Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed. A man's learning and his ability are not the same. (34-37) Look to Camara's sacred tree for the scared tree of Mecca. The wing descends, the wing and its captives. The wing ascends, the wing and its captives. Long Bow, our Ancestor, your enemy striking arrow! You hit a balenbon. (40-44) 88 The apprentice bard, as he learned how to compare heroic verse by hearing other bards recite, stored in his memory expressions that could be deployed strategically throughout his spontaneous composition when thematically or metrically expedient. The metric line of the hunter's bards, among the Mandinka, is built on the basis of breath-groups. The bard endeavors to get in as many words as he can within a single breath, so long as this is done within the individual segments of the rhythmic accompaniment from the background music. The criterion used for dividing lines throughout the poem is that ofbreath groups. A line represents a single breath group, and the end of a line marks a pause. This is not to suggest that there can be a distinct pause after each line, especially in rapid speech where aphorisms are most useful, it is difficult to be sure where the breath pauses are; the essential metrical requirement is that the singer keep in rhythm with his instrumental accompaniment. The thematic use of aphorisms as metrical units of meaning is evidenced by the mismatch oflslam and cult magic. At one time it is that, "Allah is not powerless before anything" (86). At another time the bard showers his praise on the superior power of magic and the occult, for example: Look to the talisman's Angel of Death for that not easy for all. The praise for Tears of the Game. No man becomes a hunter if he has no good talisman. You don't become a hunter ifyou have no knowledge of the occult. (2402-2409) 89 The idea imbued in these aphoristic lines reflects the historical conflict between Islam and traditional religion in West Africa. In a number of places in the poem, there is conspicuous mockery of Islamic figures, as a way of demonstrating their inadequacy, in comparison with the powers of the cult, for example: Ah! All the holy men are by the mosque, But all of them are not holy men! (1992-1993) All the holy men are by the mosque, But they all don't know how to read. (2004-2005) The outcome of this thematic conflict is when the Muslim divine who takes part in the Kambili riddle is treated as a fraud and schemer and is dismissed from the scene in disgrace, to the advantage of Bari, cult sorcerer and hunter. The aphoristic lines related to this, and the events that follow, point directly to the theme of the integrity of the holy men; and the structure of the lines, if read aloud, suggests something of the metrical patterning of breath groups: "Ahl Falsity is not good! Many brides may take a husband, They all don't give birth to hunters. Mother Dugo the Owl will give birth. A name is bought; a name is not to be forced. A fish may escape a net, He won't get out of one stretched out all over." (1113-1119) Ah! Treachery is not good! Treachery always ends up on its author. (1141-1142) Ah! Since the very beginning of the world, The holy man and treachery have never been far apart. (1158-1159) 90 In this way, proverbs are helpful in sustaining meter and commenting on theme. Proverbs are also used to mediate between the narrative and song modes, and to emphasize or comment on a particular image or episode. When, for example, the Iman and Bari find out, through their various arts, that Kanji can only have a son by his rejected wife, Dugo, the bard opens the episode with the following aphorism: No matter how long the day, It is never without end. If you don't have Old age does not let you sit do~ someone to do your part (849-850) The first two lines repeat one ofthe basic themes ofthe poem e.g., the inevitability of change: while the second two lines suggests the importance of children in furthering the work of the parents. The narrative that follows the above aphorism tells of Bari's occult work in preparing Dugo for motherhood. This brief narration is followed by a song (865-882), in which Bari asks Dugo the expectant mother of the hero-child Kambili, why she is crying; to which she answers, "I'm crying for this child affair." The song ends with a variation ofthe aphorism cited above, "Each day's dawning is not the same" (894). This proverb is followed by another song in which Bari is trying to comfort Dugo and to give her hope of a better tomorrow, while Dugo's response expresses the dimensions ofher dilemma as the rejected wife: as having not yet slept with her man, Kanji, as being the object of the vicious jealousy of the co-wives, and ends with another aphorism emphasizing the hope and value of progeny e.g., "Death is not hard unless one leaves nothing behind" (916). 91 On a diachronic, horizontal axis, these terse statements of general truth provide a superstructure for the overall design of the narrative; while on the synchronic, vertical axis, as strophic or interludial passages, they punctuate the story and are evidence of the poet's versatility and genius. The design of the epic as a whole is reflected in the smaller narrative units of the story. This design, both diachronically and synchronically, is chiastic. Chiasmus is a form of antithesis, a particular kind of word order in a sentence or line of poetry that shows a reverse parallelism of its related parts. It is a concentric word order in which a statement is made and then a comment on that statement Chiasmus is generally used to indicate a reversal in the order of words so that the second half of a statement balances the first half in inverted word order. The term can, however, also serve to express the interrelationship of words in a poetic line or phrase that balance and parallel each other without the second half being reversed or inverted, but corresponds in some way to the first. A phrase like: (1) A slave passes a late evening, A slave doesn't stay long among you. (5-6) (2) A jealous husband doesn't become a hunter, The mourners never leaves home. (30-31). Or may serve to illustrate this use of chiastic patterning. In each phrase, the second line is a comment on the first: and with each repetition ofan aphoristic phrase the bard reestablishes theme and chiastic design. 92 Seydou Camara uses proverbs freely, to keep his story in unimpeded motion, and in thematic and stylistic harmony. Of the two examples just cited, the first is repeated five times and the second is repeated once. With each repetition of a formulaic aphorism, the bard reinforces theme e.g., the inevitability of change, heroism, or some fundamental social value; and structure e.g., the chiastic pattern of statement comment on statement Seen in context, these connotations become more fully evident: Ah! Master, Kanji and his good journey! The dancers of the hero's dance have diminished The blessed child, Dugo 's Kambili has gone. The omen for staying here is not easy on things with souls. A slave passes a late evening. A slave doesn't stay long among you. There was no reason for Mother Dugo the Owl's going to rest, The lion has no reason to seize the child of man, Kambili. (1-8) The poet surrounds the chiastic-aphorism with narrative, and a plethora of action verbs denoting constant movement and change "dance," "diminished," "gone," "staying," e.g., '~01rney," "going," "seize". These words of motion and change evoke the image of the hero, "Dugo's Kambili," and envelop him in an atmosphere of action. The phrasing and imagery are not left isolated, and are commented upon by juxtaposition with the praises obtaining with heroic action: Skinning-knife of the Game, we salute Kambili Sananfila! Great buffalo fighting is not easy for the coward. Great buffalo fighting is not easy for the unsure. A coward doesn't become a hunter, 93 And become a man of renown. A woman chaser doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A jealous husband doesn't become a hunter, The mourner never leaves the house. Salute Jinina as the rifleman. Heroes, let's be off! (23-33) Here the chiastic-aphorism is circumscribed with epithets, descriptive expressions that summarize the qualities of heroic action for the Mande hunter. Inaction like, "The mourner (who) never leaves the house" is castigated, and unproductive, promiscuous action such as, "The woman-chaser (who) doesn't become a hunter ... "is similarly rebuked. In addition to providing a workable, manipulatable pattern for the synchronic (vertical) and diachronic (horizontal) growth ofthe story, chiastic-aphorisms serve the added purpose of commenting on character and plot: as the pattern, statement/comment on statement, repeats itself in microcosm (synchronic), and macrocosm (diachronic) from the beginning to the end of the epic. For example, line eight, "The lion has no reason to seize the child of man, Kambili' ," is a clever bit of foreshadowing, by which the poet begins the poem with its ending. In this way, the chiastic paradigm defines and unifies the structural perimeters ofthe entire work; while internally the, chiastic-aphorism, pattern functions as the thematic/structural vehicle for telling the story. Again, with reference to line eight: Seydou Camara, with his poetic license, creates suspense and anticlimax by the use of the ambiguous yet provocative "seize". As it turns out, the lion "attempts" to "seize" K.ambili but is instead killed by him: 94 The lion has no reason to seize the child of man, Kambili (8) The man-eating lion was dispatched with one shot. (2622) The chiastic pattern; that is, a kind of antithesis, a reversal in the order of words so that the second half of a statement balances the first halfin inverted order, also operates as a independent principle and obtains with or without proverbs. Proverbs, as indicated earlier, are vehicles for the expression of ideas central to the meaning of Kambili; they do not tell the story. The story is an elaboration of the conflict identified above; in simple, logical terms, that plot consists of the conflict of man against beast, in the broadest sense of that term, i.e., the animals around us and the animal in us. There is no absolute criteria as to the amount of freedom the composer/performer has in his selection and use of chiasticaphorisms, except that necessitated by .meter and theme. The chiastic pattern prevails in all three. modes. Its use in the comment/statement on comment, design of aphorisms has been adequately demonstrated. In the narrative mode there is the example of the opening statement on comment upon in the conclusion: the following example is from the trial of the soothsayers: He spoke out to the man of the Koran "Come help me with this child matter, Those of you who speak with Allah." He spoke out to the spirit men, like the cowry man, "Come help me with this child matter, Those of you who know the cowries ... " (218-223) 95 In the first line the persona is the voice of the bard, and in the two lines that comment on his statement, the persona is the Iman Samori. Chiasmus is also the organizing vehicle for the song mode. In the song sung by Bari to Dugo, (865-885), the statement by Bari is in the form of the following question: Ah!Favored Dugo, why do you cry so? The next ten lines are a litany of this refrain. Lines 886 through 899, intermittently, repeat the aphorism: Each day's dawning is not the same Again emphasizing the theme of change, Bari tries to encourage the despondent Dugo. Dugo' s reply is an aphorism, that repeats the idea of the importance of progeny, and is an appropriate comment on the theme of inevitable change: Death is not hard unless one leaves nothing behind Five of the next seven lines are one-line chiastic aphorisms that are variations of the theme of death: Last judgement does not pass a man by ifhe comes from Mecca 96 And Death does not pass a man by If he has raised a great family And Death does not pass a man by If he has mastered the world. These aphorisms are followed by the resumption of the narrative mode and plot. It is the proverbial phrase that patterns meter and theme and serves as a marker, a guidepost, for the bard, as he moves from one mode to another. From the beginning to the end of the epic, aphorisms bring poignant meaning and stylistic balance to the epic as a whole. The aphoristic phrase is a viable structural device for shifts from its own autonomous reality-there are at least fifty different aphoristic sayings in the epic; to the narrative mode, to which there are about eighty shifts; and to the song mode, there are eight different songs in this version of Kambili. The bard Seydou Camara, utilizes condensed statements of truth in original combinations of words and narrative context. They are not merely repeated, but are placed in apposition or linked to new characters, new episodes, and new patterns of epithets. Repetition is not tediously automatic because the creative genius of the poet develops each aphorism into new thematic expressions in which there are new relationships with characters and themes, with fresh, creative, nuances in wording, as the following examples are indicative. Here the chiastic-aphorism concerning the ''jealous husband" (130-131), is circumscribed 97 with new epithets and thematic laden aphorisms, as well as subtle word changes: Look to the Fresh Heart-cutter for the Fresh Liver-Cutter. Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy! Green Head Smasher and Green Eye Gouger! The jealous one doesn't become a hunter, The jealous one's blind never leaves the house. The woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter either. The great lover doesn't become a hunter. Nor does he become a man of renown. A name is a thing to be paid for; a name is not to be forced (99-1 07). In this example, the terse and astute warning "The jealous one doesn't become a hunter ..."is juxtaposed, antithetically, with epithets qualifying heroic prowess e.g., "Killer of the Ruthless," "Killer of the Hardy!" etc.; while subtle word changes like: "The jealous husband ... " has lost its specificity and become, "The jealous one ... "; "The mourner," has become "The jealous one (who is) blind," and "A coward" has been replaced by "The great lover." Seydou Camara handles these changes of words and relationships with poetic skill and sensitivity. His knowledge of his language and its possibilities allows him to avoid repetitive monotony in his use of aphorisms; rather, he seeks nuances, synonymous expressions, providing verbal and grammatical freshness. The following list is an example of how aphorisms speak for themselves as units of meaning, conveying both structure and idea; these are further evidence of formulaic-themes. 98 2 4 9 6 6 2 5 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 The numbers show how often a particular line is used. A man't totem is not the woman's loincloth Neither is the woman's totem the woman's loincloth. Almighty Allah may refuse to do something, Allah is not powerless before anything. A name is a thing to paid be for; a name is not to be forced. Last judgment's darkness is never without visitors. The hero is welcome only on troubled days. All things that stand eventually lie down. Words are beautiful from the father's mouth more so than the uncle's. Defecating suits the old hound. No matter how long the day, it is never without end. Old age does not let you sit down, if you don't have someone to do your work. Treachery always ends up on its author. When the well gets old, Its frame no longer sees the light of day, It has fallen down into the well. Praising a man is not pleasing to his enemy. If you should kill an unreasonable man, You have not killed a good man. It's the female magician that defeats the cannibal sorcerer! Every flower on a tree doesn't give fruit, Were it not so, the branch would break, Man, should one man not succeed, then another will. Since the world was begun, man, Kings have always come from the hunters. The hunter dies for the harp-player. The farmer dies for the glutton. 99 The holy man dies for the troubled. The king dies for his people. To each dead man his funeral song, Kambili. These aphorisms, along with several others, express the broad thematic borders of the epic. Some of them accentuate the theme of changes; others juxtapose the familiar conflict between Islam and the occult, suggesting that Islam and traditional religion occupy different areas ofthe same intellectual-philosophical space in the African numina. Others express the banal equality and commonality of man and the universe; while some evoke the conflict between Kambili, the hero, and Celrura, the villain. Heroism is definitively qualified when the bard says: The hero is welcome only on troubled days. and If you should kill an unreasonable man, You have not killed a good man. and then, as if to temper, to humble the heroic consciousness, Man, should one man not succeed, then another will. This final example suggests the inextricable, symbiotic, relationship between hero and poet: The hunter dies for the harp-player. 100 The aphorisms Seydou Camara employs are complete units of meaning honed to thematic and metrical precision. For example: the hunter (hero) does not die for his people; rather, "The king dies for his people." This distinction is very precise; as the bard makes it known that the hero is a special kind of personality, unlike the king, the holy man, the farmer, the coward, the jealousone; the hero dies for praise and frame and the poet sings of his exploits. In this example, it is the complete phrase itself that is faithful to the chiastic design, as the last line: To each dead man his funeral song, Kambili. comments on the four preceding ones. The story of.Kambili is composed ofthree major sections: the events leading up to his birth, his youth up to his marriage to Kumba, and the events leading up to the death of the Jimini lionman, Cekura. Aphorisms in the first part of the story end with the mention of Kanji, Samori's field general, going to Samori and asking for his help. This section ends, line 170, with a most apt aphorism: Ah! The hero is welcome only on troubled days. Kanji's problem is that he has nine wives, but no children. The bard has prepared the audience, for the ensuing problem ofcompetition and conflict between the wives, with a bit of relevant foreshadowing: Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing behind. (12) Here, the cultural insights of Charles Bird are supportive: 101 The co-wife's knife refers here to the knife used in the excision ceremony. If the co-wife were to excise another co-wife, it is sure that she would leave very little remaining after the operation, ensuring that their co-wife competitor would not have a great deal to offer the husband. (Bird 103) Samori calls all the omen readers and magicians :from Kayirawane to find the answer for Kanji's sterility. If they cannot solve the problem, Samori threatens to take their heads. A number of magicians consult their varied arts for the truth and each discovers that a great son will be born to Kanji. However, when asked which wife will have the child, the magicians cannot supply the information and they are summarily executed. The aphorism, "Look to the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells" (1 0, 66, 364, 439), resounds throughout this sequence as the magicians exact payment :from Kanji in the form of cows, sheep, goats, chickens, and various articles of clothing but are unable to say who among Kanji's wives will be the mother of the hero-child, Kambili. A broader interpretation of the "sitting-stool," would be that one should not attempt to hide the truth. Before the trial, and subsequent execution of the fraudulent sorcerers, Seydou Camera reels-off another litany of aphorisms, as if to build the thematic platform, to provide emotional momentum for this first climax (185-298). Chapter Seven Praise Songs, Traditional Religion and Islam The words, and the order oflines, are not exactly the same in all instances, but there is a high level of similarity that would qualify them for classification as themes. One of the sorcerers is Nerikoro, head of the blacksmith cult group. Beheading such a man would be anathema to the Mandinka society and though he also fails to solve the chills dilemma, he is left alone. With characteristic chiastic flavor, spiced with aphorism, the bard introduces the character Nerikoro into the story: Nerikoro, the Komo man has come! Fak:oli was a smith, Samori! If an insult is made to a smith, pleasure will sour. The world's first child was a smith, An insult to a smith, pleasure is ruined. Ah! Smith! Samori! (533-538) These lines introduce the first song in the epic, a praise song for the blacksmiths (534-580). To emphasize the superlative power of the smiths, Seydou Camara introduces the story's first fantastic element: Nerikoro transfonns himself into an eagle, "And rose up into the clouds, flapping" (648). This event serves to heighten the distinction between characters, class, and institutions, both in the 103 104 narrative and, perhaps, in Mande society. Lines 610 through 688 is another song to the Komo, blacksmiths society. The song ends with a hemistich of the very first aphorism isolated in this study: Ah! E! The slave does not know his end. (689) What follows, in lines 695-720, is a praise song for Islamic holy men: which serves to introduce the lman, a new character, into the story. Having been inured in the opening recitation of proverbs by, "A man's learning and his ability are not the same" (37), the audience can anticipate the conflict, but must await the poet's narrative eloquence for resolution. Skillfully, the bard intensifies the conflict: It is not good to put aside tradition for one day's pain. (720) A variation of an earlier provelb: Eating the traditional dish is not an Evil deed. (36) The other side of the conflict is stated in the provocative lines: Ah! Since the very beginning of the world, The holyman and treachery have never been far apart, There is no end to the holyman's wants. (1. 1158-1160) These lines reflect the historical contradictions between the Islamic incursions and the traditional outlook in the Western Sudan. The significance of this theme, stated aphoristically, chiastically in song and narrative, is exemplified by the protracted and repeated 105 use in the epic. This conflict does not begin to be resolved until much later in the story by such phrases as: Ah! All the holy men are by the mosque, But all ofthem are not holy men! (1992-1993) All the holy men are by the mosque But they all don't know how to read. (2004-2005) The conflict between Islam and traditional religion is personified by the Iman, and Bari the Omen Reader. In symbolic language, incomprehensible and untranslatable into English, Bari begins to read the omens of the future, singing the praises of his tradition: It's the omen for the birth of the child (784) The only two seers left, the Iman and Bari, are to determine who will be the mother ofthe hero-child, K.ambili. Islam has co-existed with traditional Mandinka culture: it has shaped and been shaped by local cultures wherever it has taken root (Charry 22) Salaam goes even further noting "if anything, Islam was readjusted to fit contours of Mandinka culture rather than the other way around; !$lam was not arabized but Africanized, and except for the addition of Muslim modes of expression, ritual prayers, and real or imagined Arab genealogies there were few changes made in the structure and organization of the historical tradition" (2261-62). The story ofDugo, introduced on line 310, is reintroduced on line 813 as the rejected wife who, ''has been put out as a goatherd." The Iman and Bari find out, through their respective arts, that Kanji can only have a child by his rejected wife, Dugo, who has 106 been sent out by the other wives. The song that follows (870-886), is one in which Dugo makes an appeal for help to Bari the TrothSeer. This is followed (887-901) by a song in which Bari asks Dugo why she is crying. This song ends with the aphorism: Each day's dawning is not the same (901) Demonstrating the symmetrical and thematic utility of formulaic proverbs. In essence, Bari is trying to comfort Dugo, to give her hope of a better tomorrow. Dugo responds in song (902-926), expressing the dimensions of her dilemma as the rejected wife; as having not yet slept with her man, Kanji; and as being the object of the vicious jealousy of the co-wives. The song ends with a line evoking the hope and value of progeny: Death is not hard unless one leaves nothing behind (923) Dugo's response is, complimentarily, accompanied by a new litany of laconic, aphoristic lines: Last judgment does not pass a man by if he comes from Mecca. Man, don't you know many good men of Mecca have gone to rest? Death does not pass a man by if he has raised a great fiunily. Death does not pass a man by if he has mastered the world. No matter how tall the man, he'll end up one long mound. Look to Yarasuru for the soul-seizing angel. (928-993) It is Bari, the Truth-Seer, who first discovers the correct answer to the riddle ofthe child's mother. To protect Dugo, Bari prepares an 107 enigmatic, sacrifice for her, and a trick for the favored wife. Here Seydou Camara uses the formulaic-aphorism coupled with a fantastic element as his vehicle: A name is bought; it is not to be forced. (1039) I cannot say the name. I will write it on holy paper. (1 049-1 050) A few lines later we are told: A tornado ripped off the roof of the hut. Ahl The holy paper was blown out by the wind. (1075-1076) The Iman, through jealousy, tries to trick Bari, but Bari's magical ability is too great and the Iman withdraws. The sprinkling of aphoristic lines related to this, and the events that follows, point directly to the theme the poet wishes to convey (i.e., the qualities of heroism). Ah! Falsity is not good ! Many brides may take a husband, They all don't give birth to hunters. Mother Dugo the Owl will give birth. A name is bought; a name is not to be forced. A fish may escape a net, He won't get out of one stretched out all over. (1113-1119) Ah! Treachery is not good! Treachery always ends up on its author. (1141-1142) Ah! Since the very beginning of the world, 108 The holy man and treachery have never been far apart. (11581159) Praising a man is not pleasing to his enemy. Every day talk improves amanmoretban every day argument. (1189-1190) Such exchanges do not necessarily denigrate Islam, but they show thematically that the knowledge to be gained from Islam is inferior to their own traditional sources. Subsequently, Dugo is secretly brought back to the palace by Bari and bedded with Kanji. Later, during her pregnancy, the extraordinary "Dugo's Kambili would get up and walk about" (1.1521 ), and then return before daybreak. This motif suggests the superlative power of Dugo and the herochild, Kambili. Hunters' societies and their musicians which The Epic of Kambili celebrates "still preserve" in the words of Eric Charry, "that pre-empire, pre-Islamic heritage. Epics recited by hunter's musicians have not been as extensively documented as those concerning Sundiata, but they are generally believed to refer to a mythic past that predates Islam and the socially differentiated society of the Sundiata era" (67-8). In fact, the hunter's musician, a term that does not convey the significance and depth of the relationship with the hunter, functions more like a priest, an intermediary between the hunter and supernatural forces. Charry says the Mandinka hunter's musician is called sora and there are no hereditary restrictions on becoming a hunter's musician. Clearly, ''the relationship between the hunter and his priestmusician is a close one," as can be seen from the following lines depicting that relationship sung by the narrator ofKambili, Seydou Camara: 109 I've seen a hunter, I've seen my friend I've seen a hunter, I've seen my brother. I've seen a hunter, I've seen my sharer of pleasures Should the hunter be a Komo I will be his bard The Komo doesn't fight a~ If he hasn't a good bard. Skinning-knife of the Game, we salute Kambili Sanan:fila! (I. 16-23) Charles Bird explains: "Initiation into the Komo is an initiation into the knowledge that governs the order of the Mandinka cosmos"(Bird 104) It is the legislative, judicial and spiritual arm of the society. Thus, it appears," in the Mandinka sense ofhonor, an opponent must be worthy of fighting. If he is ... he will be worthy of having a great bard to sing of his deeds" (1 07). "Skinning-knife of the Game" is, ofcourse, one ofthe many praise names for hunters. Chapter Eight Birth, Tasks and Triumph Soon Kambili is born. The first part of the epic reaches its climax; the favored wife's response is terse, aphoristic, and inflated with sour grapes, as she appeals to the mercy of Kanji: Every flower on a tree doesn't give a fruit; Were it not so, the branch would break. Man, should one man not succeed, then another will. (1571-1573) Lines 1650 to 1680 is a song, prelude to the second part of the story, sung by the once favored wife who is now admitting her evil jealously. She bas promised emperor Samori that she would sweep his courtyard with her bottom if she were not the first to bear Kanji and heir; Samori holds her to that promise. The bard's Seydou Camara's, sensitivity to the need of humor, of comic relief, is genuinely expressed: Ah! The favored wife got up and left, Her bottom reddened like the hearth of a forge, And called out for her comrades, Ill 112 And leaned down over her bed, And raised up her great bottom. ''For Ood's sake, bring me a fai4 And come and fan my bottom. My bottom is blistered and burned!" (1640-1680) Following this hilarious event, Kanji wife, who is to blame for all ofDugo's original hardships, tries to kill K.ambili; but Kanji, in a brilliant imagistic scene, dismounts from his marvelous white stallion and kills the evil first wife. Prophetically, the bard has prepared us with such prior references as: The birth ofKambili was not easy for Jimini (260) and He will be a child of fortune. He will not be an unfortunate child. He will be the man of the hour and the man of destiny. (361-363) K.ambili' s precocious boyhood exploits portend his heroic prowess and future greatness. He begins by fighting with the chickens and ducklings. Later he brings home a leopard, then a buffalo on a leash, thinking them to be his firther' s stray pets. The bard suspends, momentarily, the aphoristic formula Having served its guiding, didactic, thematic function, the poet can now concentrate on those acts that qualify the hero, K.ambili. K.ambili grows up to be a leader ofthe hunters. This second section ends with his marriage to Kumba, a beautiful girl with considerable magical talents. 113 The third and final part ofthe epic begins when it is announced that there is a lion-man in Jimini, and Kambili is engaged to destroy him before the lion-man devours the entire village. Cekura, the lion-man, created a serious problem for Samori, and the people ofJimini. Cekura was once married to Kumba, but 'holymen' had decreed that she should leave him for Kambili and she does. As a result, an inspired marriage song for Kambili and Kumba takes up the next one hundred fifty lines. The song itself is an echo of the formulaic theme ofconflict between Islam and traditional religion: Ah! All the holy men are by the mosque, But all of them are not holy men! Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (2004-2007) The tasks of the hero made known, the wedding procession finished, the bard returns once more to the characteristic, ventilative aphorism to end the wedding ceremony: Look to the chair for seizing all the smells. A sandal that's stepped in dung leaves its bits behind. (2109-2110) Lines 2133 through 2164 comprise another litany of gnomes slightly different from those seen in the first forty-four lines of the poem. Repetition of lines is not a monotonous, tedious one, because the poet weaves them into fresh, original combinations; which, in this case, is the vehicle for another kind ofsong in praise of the antelope and the heroic hunter. For example, the familiar line, "Look to the sitting-stool ... "(10, 66, 364, etc.) appears in 114 this recitation as, "Greet the chair ... "(2134). The reference to the "loincloth," as not being "the man's totem" (68), receives an added nU&nce, e.g., "Greet the loincloth as the breeze-catching cloth" (2136). The praise song to the antelope demonstrates the chiastic pattern without aphorisms. Great stallion of the plain without saddle. His belly, great; it's not from begging. His mouth, white; but his mouth hasn't dipped in the worthless one's mother's flour. His tail is close to the ground; the worthless one's hand won't get it His ear, great; it will never be the worthless (2154-2158) one's mother's scoop. The lines that follow are aphoristic and direct our attention back to the plot, and the hero's ultimate confrontation with Cekura, the lion-man: A man dies for this sharer of secrets, Father. A man dies for his sharer of hopes, Allah. A man dies for his sharer of wealth, Man. A man dies for his sharer of secrets, no lie. (2161-2164) These lines prepare the hero by focusing his attention on the danger he is sure to face. The hero, as Seydou Camara repeatedly reminds the audience, is born for a purpose, and his life and death must be meaningful. 115 Kambili's wife, Kumba, learns the identify of the lion-man, with the help ofBari, the King ofthe Omens. Bari is then called to discover the source of the lion-man's power. The aphoristic line that comments on Kumba's task is: The woman's hand knows how to strike a man's desires in any case. (2260) Bari instructs Kumba to go to Cekura and bring to him a hair from his head, his arm, and his crotch: a sandal off his foot, and a pair of his old pants: and to lay these on the omen board. Kumba tricks Cekura, obtains the necessary items, and returns them to Bari. Once more, Seydou Camara's poignant and strategic use of aphorisms punctuate this episode: Look to the talisman's Angel of Death for that not easy for all. The praise for Tears of the Game. No man becomes a hunter if he has no good talismans. You don't become a hunter if you have no knowledge of the occult. (2406-2409) Bari turns to Kambili and tells him to bury the items by an old tree near the market, and to consult the idol Nya-ji. Cekura, in the meantime, has called together his lion-men and is plotting to kill Kambili. Kambili sets a trap, using a young boy as bait. The song that ensues, Lines 2453 through 2467, is an appeal, by the stepmother of the child of Samori, to let her child go. Again, the aphorisms are suspended during this intense narrative action. Kumba brings Cekura, the lion-man, into the trap. The lion-man's magic causes Kambili to fall asleep. As a consequence, the boy is 116 in great fear, and in this frightful state, the poet skillfully and appropriately reactivates those aphoristic lines most thematically relevant to the event: Born for a reason and learning are not the same. A man doesn't become a hunter, If he can't control his fear. The coward doesn't become a hunter, Or become a man or renown. Death may end the man; death doem't end his name. (2520-2525) Concomitantly, these lines complete the chiastic organization of the epic as a whole. These are the last aphorisms used in the epic, as the next l76lines of the story ends the epic with narrative and song. To compare Kambili with a shorter text, let's look at another Mandinka text, "Janke Waali". This text was collected by Gorden Innes in the book Kaabu and Fuladu "Historical Narratives of the Gambian Mandinka" (University of London, 1976). The text of "Janke Waali" is S19lines as compared to Kambili's 2,727lines. The structural design of"Janke Waali" exhibits much of the same characteristics as Kambili. There are, for example, the same three modes of vocalization; what Innes calls, (I) the song mode (2) the recitation mode, and (3) the speech mode. These correspond to Bird's designation of(A) song mode (B) proverb-praise mode, and (C) narrative mode, respectively. The same characteristics, of the three modes, obtain for G. Innes and C. Bird, so I may at times use ''recitation mode," in place of the "praise-proverb mode," or "speech mode" in place of "narrative mode." 117 In.Kambili, the poet, Seydou Camara, begins his narrative with a prelude, which gives the audience an indication of the historical figure who will be the focus of the forthcoming narrative. The opening breath group of the poet's song, the prelude, is nearly always in the proverb-praise, recitation mode, and is used to induce, in the audience (and perhaps the poet himself), the appropriate mood for the enjoyment of the narrative (Bird 14). In the first forty-four lines of Kambili, the prelude, lines are exclusively in the proverb-praise mode: as the bard uses a litany of aphorisms to establish his subject and the thematic outlines of his narrative. In "J&Dke Waali," the prelude takes up the first ten lines of the narrative in the song mode, with the last three lines occurring in the aphoristic, proverb-praise mode: Today did not see the creation of the world, today will not see the end of the world. Surely you know that on a day ordained for living a man will not die; Likewise on a day ordained for dying a man will not be able to remain alive. (14-16) After the prelude, the poet switches to the narrative mode for telling the story, with occasional embellishments in the song or proverb-praise mode. The poet, Amadu Jebate, in his "Janke Waali," uses the song mode three times and the aphoristic, proverb-praise mode five times. Like Kambili, proverbs in "Janke Waali'' reflect a chiastic structure, and their use is occasioned by thematic and metrical considerations. The five aphorisms used by Amadu Jebate in "Janke Waali" are follows: 118 Today did not see the creation of the world, today will not see the end of the world. Surely you know that on a day ordained for living a man will not die; Likewise on a day ordained for dying a man will to be able to remain alive. (14-16) At the going forth of the men of noble birth there is dust and wind, at their coming home, sadness and satisfaction. (1.119) "Dew is no praise for a swamp, good horsemanship is no praise for a man of Saama". (131) A rash man and a brave man are not the same thing at all. (240) A man fights with a man, But you don't fight with the whole world. (263) In each of the above lines, the second part of the line is a comment on the first part; they compliment each other chiastically or diagonally. There is some correlation between certain modes of vocalization and certain kinds of subject matter, but it is not a oneto-one correspondence. The oral poet uses aphorisms in the proverb-praise mode to make general observations on life, and as means of stating with brevity fundamental truths and social values. Seen in context, aphoristic expressions also perform the task of accentuating and conveying specific themes. They punctuate ideas by capsulizing them in a brief, unpretentious comment. 119 "J&Dke Waali" describes the fall ofKaabu, which happened in the reign of Janke Walli, its last ruler: Kaabu appears to have been a confederation of states, under the supreme authority of the ruler of the state of Puropaoa, who bad his capital at Kansala in northeast Guinea-Bissau. According to oral tradition, Kaabu endured for over six hundred years, and its founding is generally ascribed by the griots of one of Sunjata's generals, Tira Mkhang, who moved west after Sunjata's victory over Sumanjmu in the thirteenth century. (Bird31) Some areas of Kaabu had substantial Fula minorities, and the Mandinka rulers of Kaabu are reported (by griots) to have often treated their Fula subjects in a humiliating and heartless manner. As a consequence of this treatment, some of the Fula subjects revolted about 1867. They managed to secure the support of the Fula of Futa Jalon, and after several year's campaigning, this combined Pula force struck at Kansala, the heart ofKaabu. When his capital was on the point of falling to the attacking Fula, Janke Waali touched off the power magazine, blowing himself and his wives to pieces (Bird 32). "Janke Waali" address itself to the inevitable realities of life and death. This theme is introduced in the prelude and echoed in the plot, as Janke Waali prepares himself and his wives for death: Janke Waali had loaded a pistol and it lay on the ground; he had spread a big lion-skin in one of the powder magazines He gave orders, "'pen the powder magazines and pour their contests on top of each other." 120 The griot was saying, with added embellishments, "On a day for living a man will not die; Likewise on a day for dying no head will escape." He added, "there is an expression, A kooring's white bones, but not A kooring's white hair. Today's death and a fresh grave." They evacuated all the s1rongholds, Till nothing remained except King Janke Waali's Stronghold. (397-404, emphasis added) The underlined phrase is repeated twice in this short narrative, which suggests something of its thematic and structural importance; other aphorisms are stated only once. In another instance, as the Fula prepares to attack Kaabu, we again observe the bard's strategic use of formulaic aphorisms: At the going forth of the men of noble birth there is dust and wind, at their coming home, sadness and ~on.(l9) In the preceding example, the chiastic structure captures the feeling and imagery of movement, as the bard speaks of "going forth," and "coming home," and then effectively juxtaposes the feelings of"sadness and satisfaction". Amadu Jebate continues in the narrative mode and dots the episode with a proverb suggestive of epic hubris: They surpassed all other princes ofhorsemanship. They did not use a bridle. They took tattered sacks and laid them on the horse's back, But they would jump even a deep river on horseback. 121 Those were the princes of Saama. "Dew is no praise for a swamp, good horsemanship is no praise for a man of Saama" (126-131, emphasis added) This proverb is in the form of an analogy; since dew falls on all rice swamps, it is no praise of a rice swamp to say that dew falls on it. Similarly, since all the princes of Saama are superb horsemen, it is no praise ofany one ofthem to say that he is a good horseman. Saama is another home of the Fula. Line 131 is thematically consistent with, and is a concise summation of, the preceding six lines. The line achieves another concise summation, "A rash man and a brave man are not the same thing at all." King Janke Waali spoke these words to his adversary Maalang Bulafeema who had been wamed not to kill a certain monkey. Maalang Bulafeema killed the monkey anyway, initiating the following dialogue between him and Janke Waali: "You should not have touched this monkey, Because this is the monkey that the oracle wamed us about." Maalang Bulafeema looked at him and said, "King Janke, If you would but admit it, you are afraid of dying,. So get up off the royal lion-skin and let me sit there." He said, "MaaJang Bulafeema and Ynnkatnaadu, A rash man and a brave man are not the same thing at all." (234-240, emphasis added) The fifth and final use of an aphorsim in this text occurs on line 263. Janke Waali's son, Sarf~ comes to tell him of the coming of the Fula from Futa Jalon and says to him: 122 "Count these grains of sand. When you have finished, you will have finished counting the Futa men. The Futa men and the grains of earth are of equal number." His father said to him, "My son, how is that?" He said, "Father, a man fights with a man, but you don't fight with the whole wodda Let us flee!" (260-264, emphasis added) These examples indicate that the poets, Amadu Jebate and Seydou Camara, use the same narrative techniques, e.g., the three modes of vocalization, and proverbs as important thematic and structural elements in both their works. The distinguishing features are in length and content What defines Kambili as epic, and "i&Dke Waali" as simply "a D81'1'8tive" is precisely these features; "J&Dke Waali" is ofshorter length and lacks the depth oftreatment observed in Kambili.. The plot of"Janke Waali" lacks the embellishments of extensive use of songs, praise and aphorisms that characterize.Kambili. Given the vicissitudes oftime and authorship "Janke Waali" can be viewed as a ''potential epic." With the embellishment and embroidery of the cbiasticaphorism, an otherwise banal plot is rescued and infused with new life. The various uses of the aphorism: as mnemonic device, as a comment on completed and beginning subjects, as a cbiastic phrase that comments on itself, as a self-contained statement of general truth; aphorisms, when used with skillful propriety, are significant for both the meaning and structure of Mandinka oral literature. Chapter Nine In Praise of Kambili Sananfda Historians, anthropologists and sociologists have recognized the age-grading system of social organization as an important institution accounting for the unity and smooth functioning ofprecolonial African states. Age was the most important factor detennining the extent of rights and obligations. The oldest members of the society were highly respected and usually in authority. The idea of seniority through age was reflected in the presence of age-grades and age-sets in a great many African societies. This social system is also useful as a method of literary organization (structure) and thematic development, particularly evident in the Mandinka epic, Kambili, and is the basis of praise names given the hero. The interlocking responsibilities of the various age-grades required that each grade have its own social, economic and political role. Usually, there were at least three age-grades, corresponding roughly to the young, the middle-aged and the old. Around the ages of six and seven to age twelve were the years of fun and games, although some little jobs began to be mingled with the play. Primary education included story-telling, mental arithmetic, community songs and dances, learning the names of various birds and animals, the identification of local plants and 123 124 trees, and how to identify dangerous animals. Child training also included knowing and associating with members of one's age group as brothers and sisters, and regarding them as brothers and sisters until death and beyond. The next grade above childhood was teenage to age eighteen. Now both training and responsibilities were stepped up. Playtime was either over or significantly reduced. Education and training became more complex and extensive. Upon their performance at this age level, the youths' entire future depended. The young man was now required to learn his extended family history and that of his society, the geography of the region, the names of neighboring states and the nature of the relations with them, the handling of weapons, hunting as a skilled art, rapid calculation, the nature of soils and which kinds grew what best, military tactics, care and breeding of cattle, bartering tactics, the rules of good manners, leadership examples for the children of the age-group below and responsibilities to the age-group above. At the end of this second level age group, one went through the initiation rites for the exalted level of manhood. Young women received the same intellectual training as the young men: history, geography, rapid calculation, poetry, music and danre-to which were added: cbildcare, housekeeping, gardening, cooking, marketing and social relations with particular stress on good manners. Laws and customs, especially those governing the moral code and general rules of etiquette in the community, were often taught to both boys and girls in the form of folklore and national legends. The Epic of Kambili is in this tradition, where many of the proverbs used by the griot, Seydou Camara, are didactic and intended to instruct, particularly members of the second age-group, the age-group from which the hunters come, concerning the acceptable rules of social behavior among 125 the Mandinka, so we find: "A coward doesn't become a hunter," and "A woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter," or "Evil jealousy is not good." The next stage, ages nineteen to twenty-eight, was the manhood and marriage stage. In tenns of rights and duties, there was not much difference between the third and fourth ages of twenty-nine to forty-these periods, of course, varied in different societies. Seniority, however, was the significant difference. If otherwise qualified, members in this class upon reaching the age of thirty-six were eligible for election to the most highly honored body in the society, the Council of Elders. The Mandinka epic, Kambili, moves deliberately and methodically through ''the events both natural and supernatural leading to the birth of the hero, his youth, his attaining manhood and his marriage and the exploits that gained him his name" (Bird xi). As such, Kambili follows the so-called rites of passage (ceremonials of birth, naming, puberty, marriage, burial, etc.), which occupied such a prominent place in the life of traditional, pre-colonial African societies. The adventures of the hero, Kambili, are a magnification ofthe formula represented in the rites of passage. Kambili, like other epics, is a lengthy oral narrative, composed (and simultaneously performed) in a grand style, celebrating the heroic deeds of a man endowed with something more than human might and operating in a world larger than the normal human context. Kambili, the man, like other epic heroes, is a national hero: he represents a country and a cause which triumphs with his triumph and whose honor would suffer from his defeat. Universally, epics are recognized as a symbol of the origin, growth and development of the state. Kambili is the epic hero of 126 this particular song of Seydou Camara, a Gambian griot, and, in the context of this story, is the man called upon to exhibit his ability to restore, ifonly mythically or symbolically, the social and moral harmony of his society to its proper balance. In his effort to classify mankjnd into different types, the Mandinkanarrator, or griot, gives a special place to these men who live for action, and for the honor that comes from it He seems to believe that the life of action is superior to the pursuit of profit or the gratification of the senses, and the man who seeks honor is himself and honorable figure. In several instances, in Kambitli, Seydou Camara substantiates this view, for example: The jealous one doesn't become a hunter. A woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter. (102 and 104) As members of the second age group, young men are expected to behave in a more mature way. The young man, now, must begin to exhibit the qualities of independence, self-assurance, self-control and moral integrity. And when these qualities, and the related ones of courage, resourcefulness and precocity, are heightened to their most superlative degree, we can begin to form an image, a conception of heroism, heroic prowess, if not the picture of a particular hero from a particular culture. On the other hand, there are certain negative qualities of heroism that serve as balancing elements within the society. For instance, the hero is frequently a self-centered, disruptive character who boasts, makes threats and brings violence into the society; Kambili brags that he will kill the lion-man, Cekura, with a single shot from his rifle and he does. Therefore, when the poet, Seydou Camara sings, "the hero is welcome only on troubled days," he 127 captures the contradictory relationship between the hero and the society. Charles Bird, who has written extensively on this particular epic, and is responsible for the translation and transcription of the only English language copy of this Songs of Seydou Camara, writes the following: The hero is asocial, capable of unrestricted cruelty and destructiveness, whose presence is always a threat to the stability of the collectivity. He is, however, perhaps the only member associated with the group who is capable of swift and conclusive action. (Bird xi.) The society is thus damned with the hero and damned without him. His relationship to society is concomitantly gregarious and antagonistic. Bird further points out that, in Mandinka society, the ability to perform deeds is linked to an energy called nyama, the energy of action. This energy can both protect and destroy the performer of deeds, heroic or otherwise. Therefore, much of the occult science in this area is focused on the control and manipulation of this energy. Talismans, medications, incantations and fetishes are designed for the augmentation and appeasement of the energy of action. The hunter, being a man of action, must become a specialist in occult science. In Kambili, there are many references to the supernatural and the occult. Kambili recognizes and accepts the supremacy of the divine powers and actively solicits their aid: before his fight with Cekura, Kambili asks for the help ofBari the ''reason seeker'' who reads an omen assming Kambili's victory. At another time, this aid is requested of Islam: "Almighty Allah may refuse to do something. Allah is not powerless before anything" (85-86). And, it is said ofKumba, Kambili's betrothed, 128 that she could change herself into a horned viper, a buffalo or an owl; and Cekura, the arch-villain, changed himself into a lion; and the young boy used as bait to trap Cekura was struck dumb when a fly came and sat on his head and spoke, "Young boy, don't be afraid. Nothing will happen to you" (2498-2500). It is important for young men entering the second age grade, when they are becoming hunters and considering marriage, to overcome their fear. Is there really such a thing as a "lion man"? Where or what is this monster-really? Is it not just the imagination of the poet, Seydou Camara? Is this "lion man" not just in the head and psyche of the young boy or the hero, Kambili? Isn'tthis "monster'' really ineachofus? Clyde Ford in Hero With an African Face, deepens our queey: What is the monster consuming my humanity? The impersonal demands of an unrewarding career? The emotional drain of an un:fulfilling relationship? The psychic pain of an unresolved trauma? The emptiness of an unrealized dream? An unacceptable social illness like racism, violence, poverty, or homelessness? And we may ponder our own virgin birth: To what hero part of myself must I give birth to meet this monster in battle? Courage? Fearlessness? Faith? Hope? An end to denial? A belief in my own worthiness? ....What parts of Myself am I willing to sacrifice in this life-cballenging effort? Am I ready to face possible ridicule and scorn from those who would not understand my hero quest? In these questions lie the personal challenges and rewards of the African hero's death and resurrection. (39) This then, is the moment in the stoey when the hero, the young boy and the audience must look inside their own hearts and minds to 129 clarify the difficulties (the lion men, the monsters) and eradicate them. This is a dangerous and difficult age grade, a time of selfanalysis, self-discovery and self-development; times of overcoming fear, accepting death as an inevitable consequence of life. It can be said, therefore, that the incidents that are fantastic, supernatural and "unreal" represent psychological, not literal events. Seydou Camara endeavors to represent certain balancing elements without which the society in which the hero lives will cease to exist. The balancing factor may consist in loyalty, courage, responsibility, friendship or love. Through the medium of his narrative he must create the values by which his society is to live and die. Kambili, the fictional, enigmatic, formidable, invincible hero represents the "hope ofthe society," and even more importantly he represents superlative human qualities and the masculine qualities of his age group, and the salvation of the community is ensured by his demonstration ofthese qualities from his inception and precocious youth to his marriage to Kumba. Approaching the hero from the standpoint of his origins, Isidore Okpewho reminds us in The Epic in Africa, that the hero of epic poetry, invariably, has the advantages of birth that set him above the rank and file. Sundiata, a historical epic figure, and legendary founder of the great Mali Empire of 13th century West Africa, was the son of a Mansa (emperor). Okpewho adds: His mother, Sogolon (Sukulung), is the "buffalo woman" and thus brings to the hero all the mystic force of her totemic personality ... Swnanguru, was born of a human mother but of a spirit father ... Silamaka of the Silamaka epic is the son of the chief of Macina. Ozidi Is of the 130 ruling house of Orua ••• The hero of the Kambili epic is the son Kanji, a general of the emperor Samori Toure ... Mwindo of The Mwindo Epic is the son of the king of Tubondo. Similarly, Achilles is a Myrmidon prince, son of King Peleus. And the goddess Thetis, a sea nymph ... Gilgamesh is King ofUruk, two-thirds god and one-third man. And Beowulfmakes his origins known to the Danish coast guard in no mistaken terms: (85) My father was fiunous in many a folk-land, A leader noble, Ecgtheow his name. (Beowulf262-63) The emergence ofthe hero into the world is usually marked by some awe or mystery; there is often something portentous, something foreordained, about his entry into the world, or into this sphere of action. In The Epic of Kambili, there is this sense of foreboding. Kambili is the subject of a painful trial of skill in which several "reason seekers" are found wanting and are executed on orders of the emperor Samori Toure. This is because, even though their magic symbols describe the coming of a male child, they are unable to name which of Kanji's nine wives will be the mother of the hero child. Instead, they can only answer humbly, ''The bag is only for signs. It does not know people's names" (376377). All the reason seekers are agreed that the awaited child will be "a vicious hunter," the "hope of the group," and "invincible." Also, Kambili's "career" in the womb of his mother, Dugo, is characteristically portentous: 131 And after nightfall around about midnight, Dugo's Kambili would get up and walk about. As the dawn was lightening, He would come back. And throw himselfback down on his mother's mat as if nothing happened. Mother! She cried. Mother! During the day, here I am Dugo pregnant. During the night, here I am Dugo with empty stomach. I can do no more with this thing inside me, Mother. (1520-1528). In The Mwindo Epic, a similar career is followed by the hero Mwindo while he is in his mother's womb: "Where the child (Mwindo) was dwelling in the womb, it climbed up in the belly, it descended the limb, and it went (and) came out through the medius" (Biebuyckand Mateene). In the Homeric poems, fantastic births are set amid meteorological turmoil similar to that also seen to be core cliches in the thematic content of epic narratives. The Epic of Kombili is well seasoned with references like: ''Look to him hom for a purpose, for him coming for a purpose." By his ancestry, his birth and his early development, the hero gives us an awesome promise of things to come. Dugo, despised by the other eight wives, is Kanji's favorite, and the "chosen" mother of the hero (in the same manner that Macy is the "chosen" mother of Jesus), and she is secretly brought back to the palace ofSamori by Bari (an omen reader) and bedded with Kanji Dugo' s selection is the work ofthe occult, represented by Bari, who in competition with the Islamic holy man is first to proclaim the name of the mother of the awaited hero. 132 He cried out, "Tome ni Manjun! Ah! Here's the problem! I have found out the mother's name. I have found out the mother's family name. Let us go over in the comer, So I can tell you the mother's name, And then tell you the father's name. Should that be said before the other women, They will prepare a poison, And give it to the husband, The child affair will never be resolved" Ah! Namu-sayers! Toure called-out to Morifinjan, And called-out to Fadama the Bard. He said, "Morifinjan." And you, Fadama the Bard, Come, let's go. Let's go over into the comer. The thing is not easy for all!" And Bari said, "Tome ni Manjun, The child's name is Kambill. The mother's name is Sananfila Dugo, Dugo who bas been put out as a goatherd Because of vicious bitterness. She will bear a vicious hunter for the world" (788-815). Thus, Bari, the Truth-Seer, is first to discover the correct answer to the riddle of the child's mother. To protect Dugo, Bari prepares an enigmatic sacrifice for her and a trick for the jealous senior wife. Then the Imam, through jealousy, tries to trick Bari, but Bari's magical ability is too great and the Imam withdraws. The praise lines related to this, and the events that follow, point directly 133 to a theme the poet wishes to convey, i.e. the qualities expected of those young men entering the second age group and, in their superlative manifestations, the qualities of heroism: Ah! Falsity is not good! Many brides may take a husband, They all don't give birth to hunters. Mother Dugo the Owl will give birth. A name is bought: a name is not to be forced. A fish may escape a net, He won't get out of one stretched out all over. (1113-1119). Ah! Treachecy is not good! Treachery always ends up on its author. (1141-1142). Ah! Since the very beginning of the world, The holyman and treachery have never been far apart. (1158-1159). Praising a man is not pleasing to his enemy. Everyday talk improves a man more than everyday argument (1189-1190). Having transformed himself into a black cat, the Imam, surreptitiously, enters the hut where Bari's omens lie in the dust and tries to disrupt their arrangement. Bari returns to the hut, and a small bird tells him what the omens said before the Imam molested them. Asked what should be done to the Imam after the failure of his treacherous plot Bari answers: Let him go ... 134 If you should kill an unreasonable man, You have not killed a good man (1307-1312). Such exchanges do not necessarily denigrate Islam, but they show thematically that for Mandinka youth the knowledge to be gained from Islam is, in some instances, inferior to Mandinka traditional sources. Surely, such "instances" of"knowledge" does not include that which is gleaned from hair from the armpits and crotch of enemies. After Dugo is secretly brought back to the palace by Bari and bedded with Kanji, she becomes pregnant and dming her pregnancy the extraordinary "Dugo's Kambili would get up and walk abouf' (1521) and then return to his mother's womb before daybreak; a motif that suggests the superlative power ofDugo and the hero-child, Kambili. Soon Kambili is hom. The first part of the epic reaches its climax, and one of the wise braves states, proverbially, Every flower on a tree doesn't give fruit; Were it so, the branch would bleak, Man, should one man not succeed, then another will (1571-1573). These are the words that praise Dugo, metaphorically, as the "flower" that gives fruit. They are words that also speak of the important value given to those women who have children. When a woman reaches the second age group she is expected to marry, and the marriage is not a personal matter, but one that binds not only the bride and bridegroom but also their kinsfolk. The virginity of the bride is also a matter of public significance. In the past, 135 "Her condition is announced by the groom, who parades through the village with a bloody cloth on the end of a spear. Griots follow the husband, chanting the praises of the bride so that all will know that she has met one of the highest social standards required of women (Hale 87). In more traditional circumstances, it was the duty of the wife to have children, and those women who did were highly respected by the community. In fact, the procreation of children was considered their first and most sacred duty. In childless marriage, in the traditional milieu, was practically a failure, for children were the hope not only of the parents but also of the community as a whole. It was an even greater reward if the young woman or man became the leader of his or her age group. In the events immediately following the birth of Kambili, Kanji's first wife, who was to blame for all of Dugo's original hardships, tries to kill Kambili, but Kanji, in a brilliant imagistic seene, dismounts from his marvelous white stallion and kills the evil first wife: Kanji, mounted on a white stallion ... The favored wife went to find the despised Dugo. She said, "Despised Dugo!" "Yes," the reply. "It was the King who told me That I should mash up Kambili, And give him to the horses. Kambili is a child of evil sign." Despised Dugo left herself in the hands of Allah, And took Kambili and gave him to the favored wife. She put him down inside a mortar And raised the pestle high overhead, Saying she would pound K.ambili up. It was then that Kanji arrived. Nothing happens without Allah's will. 136 Ah! Jealousy is evil! The woman's evil jealousy can't succeed. Kanji came, pulling up the reins behind the favored wife. "What kind of thing is that in the mortar, Making a noise like that?" She replied. "I was just playing a game with the little man. I wasn't doing anything to him." "With the pestle raised up like that, You call it a game?" And he struck with both barrels. Yes, fired both barrels at the favored wife, Putting one ball right in her ear Putting the other ball in her chest Laying the butt to her head, smash! (1720-1752) Such fabulous, awkwardly violent exploits, obviously symbolic, are factors defining Kambili' s heroism and charisma. Therefore, praises are sung for the physical qualities he displays and for the naivety, but courage shown in bringing home a leopard and then a buffalo on a leash, prompting the poet to sing: He said, "Kambili the Hunter! Kambili Sananfila! Man, you're not old enough yet" (1851-1852) In some praises, Kambili appears in his own person, and in others he is transformed by metaphor into an animal or natural phenomenon that exemplifies qualities that can be compared to those of the hero, for example: Great-Eyed Nightbird of the Hunters! lll-Wind of the animals! (1770-1771) 137 "Great-Eyed Nightbird" is a metaphor for the owl, a bird considered by the Mandinka people to have great magical powers; and "ill-Wmd of the animals" is a metaphor for the bunter whose every scent strikes terror in the bunted animals. It will reward us at this time to consider the specific praise names associated with the hero, Kambili, for it is during the period of the second age group that the young man is most likely to perform those acts that will win praise. It is during the second age grade that the young man is most physically tit and can demonstrate his endurance, skill at hunting and striking his prey, fleetness of foot and nerves of steel, all qualities that will win him distinction and praise. The praises of Kambili in the poem are as follows: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 I)ugo'sKambili Skinning-Knife of the Game Kambili Sanantila The Elephant's Skinning Knife The Fresh Heart-Cutter The Fresh Liver-Cutter The Stream-Drying Sun The River-Drying Sun Green Head Smasher Green Eye Gouger TheCat Naked Buttock Battler Naked Chest Battler Hot Pepper Killer of the Ruthless Killer of the Hardy Eater of Cold Meals 138 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 15 26 Drinker of Cool Water The Man-Seizing Man Great-Eyed Nightbird mWind K.ambili the Hunter Dugo's Warrior Bird The Game's True Hunter Dugo's child's Kumba Homed Viper In the ''Introduction" to The Songs of Seydou Camara, Charles Bird notes that the great kings of the Mandinka past are praised as hunters first and foremost. The hunter's prowess is well known since it is the poet's function, in traditional society, to guarantee that his deeds will be preserved and acclaimed. This is no simple task, since to gain a name sung for posterity means not only overcoming one's age-mates, but also surpassing the deeds of one's predecessor (Bird vi.). Even though the hunter's bard is not usually a hunter, he serves as the seer of recorder of omens, and, in a modem literary context, he serves as a fictional biographer in the oral epic tradition. In the hunting tradition of old West Africa, the hunter's bard functions as a sort of intermediary between the hunter and the supernatural forces of the bush. Thus considered, he might be favorably compared to a priest or rabbi. It is therefore not surprising that the first praises for K.ambili are in the context of his exploits as a hunter: "Skinning-Knife of the Game, we salute K.ambili Sananfila! (23) This praise name identifies the hero by his deeds and family name in one and the same breath. The metaphorical image in the praise-name identifies the hero with the act of killing and preparing the game at one fell swoop. There is 139 also, in this image, recognition of characteristics shared by knife and hero: brightness, swiftness, accuracy and thoroughness. The analogy between object and hero is complete. Gordon Innes, in his monumental work Kaabu and Fuladu: Historical Narratives ofthe Gambian Mandinka, informs us that the surname "Sananfila" is a praise-name. Further, noting that griots have said that Mandinka surnames were originally praisenames given by Sundiata to various clan heads and reflecting certain incidents in the clan heads' careers (Innes 22). Innes elaborates: Though we may have doubts about the etymology given by the griots, For some ofthe surnames, it is likely that the griots are right in their assertion that surnames were originally praise-names. Support ofthis view comes from the fact that in certain varieties of Manding the same morpheme means both "surname" and ''to praise," as for exampleinBambara wherejamu has both these meanings. (22) The prais~nme "Kambili Sanantila" uniquely identifies the hero in tenns of descent because "Sanantila" is one of the names for Kambili'sfamily. Online 131, we :find thatthenameofKambili's father is "Sananfila Kanji." In other words, to ask "What is your surname?" Is the same as asking, "What is your praise?" Praise-names, like praise and admiration, must be earned, "A name is not to be forced," the poet tells his audience, "A name is paid for" and the price is high. And in the well-known ag~rdin system prevalent throughout Africa, the poet holds up Kambili as Ford notes "not [given] solely for us to emulate but to use as a 140 meditation on our own" (31) and one who bas entered the second and most important age-grade, the age-grade upon which the young man's or young woman's entire future depends, and challenges those of similar circumstances to match his example. In those days, when bunting was of great economic importance to the entire society, to earn a name sung for posterity the price was the willingness to give up everything, including, at times, sacrificing one's life for the success of the hunt It is quite likely that in periods of famine the hunters were the sole support of the society. Young men in this age-group must come to realize that before they can be initiated into Dl8Ilhood, before they can impress and be respected by a woman, they must be men both by appearance and by deed. It is with this understanding that he poet Camara sings: A coward doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A jealous husband doesn't become a hunter, The mourner never leaves the house. (26-31) In addition to their clearly didactic content, such lines are praises by inversion. That is, by placing the hero in opposition to cowardice, promiscuity,jealousy, weeping and moaning, the poet pays the hero-hunter the highest compliment by implication. This triplet represents three of the most common expressions in the epic: they underline the fundamental importance that the hunters give to their reputation, a reputation built on their outstanding moral integrity and also on the performance of heroic deeds. John W. Johnson tells us: 141 As the bard is the preserver of social customs and values, so the epic becomes the catalogue of those customs and values. The latter function may even be described as didactic or acculturating in nature, and the deeds of the heroes and the customs and values surrounding them become role models for members of society. As a catalogue of social values and customs, the epic exhibits characteristics of cultural, traditional transmission. (51). Praise-names, it should be noted, are not exclusively masculine, and the storyteller endeavors to show the debt the hero owes to the women in his life. In The Epic ofKambili, it is through the mother's supernatural powers that the hero becomes a great hunter, and through his wife Kumba's magical powers that he is able to kill the "lion man" of Jimini. In the seventh line of the poem, Kambili's mother is referred to as "Mother Dugo the Owl". Her praise-name is "The Owl" or, as she is later called metaphorically, "The big-eyed nightbird". By praising those with whom the hero is related or associated by deed, historically or contemporaneously, the poet links the hero to praiseworthy attributes and gains for the hero greater identification and universal acclaim. So the poet exclaims, "Salute Jinina as the rifleman," a reference to a great hunter from the Mandinka past; and "Long Bow, or Ancestor," a praise-name for Sumanguru Kante, the blacksmith king who was the enemy of Sundiata, the founder of the Mali empire; and "Parisian's man of the hour, I say Bravo!" a reference of Charles de Gaulle. To the question: Whom does the poet praise? And for what? Daniel Kunene answers: 142 Let us say, for argument sake, that he praises a fictitious hero for equally fictitious deeds ofbravery: well, we have a heroic poem. Or let us say that he praises a man who is outstanding in the field of education or in politics, one to whom the community or nation looks for leadership and who, for this reason, is a metaphorical warrior in a metaphorical battle: once again we have a heroic poem. (xiv) Kambili is, from all appearances or until proven otherwise, a fictitious, metaphorical hero, yet he is praised by references to relatives, e.g. "Dugo's Kambili" or Kambili Sananfila," son of Sananfila Kanji; and by association with peers, e.g. "Parisian's man of the hour" and "Jinina," the rifleman; as well as association by historical reference, e.g. "Long Bow, our Ancestor" or "Jantumani" or "Kulumba," names of other great hunters from the Mandinka past. In addition to individual praises, there are also group praises that can be applied to an entire group: a family, a regiment, a guild or an age group. For example, the Camara family or any of its members can be addressed by the griot with the praise-line, "Look to Camara's sacred tree for the sacred tree of Mecca." This line and the three that follow it in the poem are a formulaic set of praise-lines for the Camara family: Look to Camara's sacred tree for the sacred tree ofMecca. The wing descends, the wing and its captives. The wing ascends, the wing and its captives. Long Bow, our Ancestors, your enemy-striking arrow! (40-43). 143 This is an excellent example of praise associated with peers by historical reference. It is known through oral and written sources that at least one battalion of Sundiata's army was composed entirely of members of the Camara :fiunily under the direction ·of Fran Camara (Bird 106). The system of age grading in connection with the living and the dead plays an important role in African, and certainly Mandinka, society. As the young man matures, his prestige increases according to the number of age grades he has passed. Thus, when the poet evokes the name of a famous ancestor, the young men of the society are again made to realize that their position is due to the care and guidance rendered by their departed ancestors. During this most virile period of a young man's life, a Mandinka youth may acquire several praise-names in the course of his career, and most often the more outstanding his accomplishments, the greater the number of praises he will have bestowed upon him. Because praises in The Epic ofKambili are often formulaic, they are always at the fingertips of the poet, latent-until animated by theme or meter during the poet's composition/performance. To elaborate this particular aspect of the poet's composition, it is noted that praises occur in what Bird refers to as the "praiseproverb" mode. For the vocal component of his performance/ composition, the Mandinka bard has at his disposal three types of vocalization. The first of these is the song mode, which refers to those elements of song within the composition, for example: Fakoli was a smith, Samori! If an insult is made to a smith, pleasure will sour. The world's first child was a smith, An insult to a smith, pleasure is ruined. (534-537) 144 We not only get historical personage but also ontological insight intoaMandjnJcaviewof"Adam"-''Theworld'sfirstcbild." This is the first song in the epic and is a praise song for the blacksmith. Bird elaborates: The head ofthe K.omo society is always a blacksmith and thus the song serves to introduce this character into the epic. The blacksmith is considered to be the center of all activity. Without • there would be no tools for the farmers, no utensils for cooking, and no weapons for hunters. According to at least one mythology, the blacksmith was the first human to descend from the heavens. (113) The rather formulaic, thereby useful repetitive nature of the songmode is both structurally and thematically intertwined. The speech or narrative mode is the second type of vocalization and its function is the unwinding of plot or story-telling, as in the following: Kanji was the chief of the soldiers, The imam's cbiefofthe soldiers. Kanji was chief of the soldiers, The imam's cbiefofthe soldiers. (136-139) This, the narrative mode, makes evident that one if not the basis ofstructure ofthe poet's composition is the rhythmic background Lines in this mode of delivery, Charles Bird tells us "are defined strictly by the number and placement of accented syllables ... There must be at least one accented beat, but it may be as many as the bard can squeeze in" (xi) as a single breath group. Although enjambments, continuations into the next line, are the rule, as lines 145 are presented at an extremely fast rate, and a single breath group may incorporate five to ten lines, I have chosen to highlight and clarify the narrative forms more distinctly in the version of the epic presented here: to sacrifice authenticity for readability or visual accessibility. The third mode of composition is the recitation or praiseproverb mode, in which the singer demonstrates his eloquence and his claim to truth by reciting numerous praise-lines and proverbs which focus attention on the hero, either by association or by comparison, for instance: A man dies, he never ends his problems. Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed. A man's learning and his ability are not the same. (35-37) The first line suggests that one never dies with a clean slate; there is always something left undone. The second line refers to the fact that the hunters are the most traditional, conservative group of Mandinka society. Bird assures us: The hunters are not Muslim. They are often adamantly anti-Islam, because to them, Islam is a new importation associated entirely with the problems of town life. In the eyes of the hunter, nothing can be wrong with traditional behavior since that is the behavior that their ancestors passed down to them. To reject that behavior is to reject one's heritage. (1 05) The praise-proverb mode, as well, is very important in the structural and thematic composition of The Epic of Kambili. Gordon Innes states that: 146 Texts in this mode are concerned with either praise of general comment, but praise in the form of recitation of ancestry and clan relationships.... Vocalization in this mode occurs as a variety of song. . . . Recitations of ancestry are often marked by long descending melodic phrases ofbalanced length in which the text is delivered in rapid tempo but with a generally even syllabic rate which is in turn derived from the meter of the accompaniment (Sunjata 18) The content of the ''praise-proverb" or ''recitation" mode is, therefore, much as its name suggests. It is a type of declamatory or dramatic, impassioned singing, whereby proverbs are drawn upon to verify facts. It is recited in musical tones in much the same fashion as an operatic aria, i.e. an accompanied elaborate melody sung by the bard. The griot/griotte or singer, composes extemporaneously, usually at a high rate of speed, numerous praise-names and phrases. It is, therefore, not uncommon to find a praise-name or phrase wherever the singer shifts modes or begins a new phase of the plot. He relies on the formulaic praisephrases to give, in this case, himself pause; perhaps, to determine, instantly, the course of action in the narrative mode which will be utilized to move the story along. The construction of lines in the formulaic "praise-proverb" or ''recitation" mode consists (in the English version of the epic) of a verb or verb-phrase and a conjunction "as" or "for." In this pattern, some twenty-seven praise-proverb lines are built. This pattern may be diagrammed as follow: Look to XasaY Salute 147 The number of times this particular formula is used in the epic is noted below: 1 2 3 4 S 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 1S 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Look to the tracking dog for the hunting dog. Look to the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. Look to the doorsill for the sight of all things. Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing out. Look to the salt for the success of the sauce. Salute Jimina as the rifleman. Look to Camara's sacred tree for the sacred tree of Mecca. Look to the running dog for the hunting dog. Look to the cat for the thing not easy for all. Look to the loincloth for all-smells-catching cloth. Look to him bom for a purpose. Look to the Fresh Heart-Cutter for the Fresh LiverCutter. Look to the duck for the heron. Look to Mother Dugo the Owl for the big-eyed nightbird. Look to the Green Head-Smasher for the Green EyeGouger. Look to the cat for the hunting wildcat. Look to the Hot Pepper Man for the thing not easy for all. Look to Yarasuru for the soul-seizing angel. Look to Sacko for the thing not easy for all! Look to the chair for seizing all the smells. Look to the drying sun for the sun of the midday meal. Greet the loincloth as breeze-catching cloth. Look to the undryable for the unbumable. 148 24 25 26 27 Look to Mother Dugo's ogre for that which scares the children. Look to the talisman's Angel of Death for that not easy for all. Look to the rolling stone for the pebble crusher. Look to the deathless for the sightless. The inventive and clearly didactic purpose ofthese expressions in educating young apprentice hunters of the critical second age group is evident when we consider the meaning of some of these praise-proverbs. "The 1racking dog," for example, is the dog that has the means of finding minute evidence that will lead him to What he is looking for; therefore, he is the best hunting dog. "The sitting-stool" is a small stool left in the courtyard upon which women sit while cooking. It has the meaning that no matter how people try to hide reality or truth, there will be a means of discovering it Women, for instance, hide their sex with clothing, but its existence is known to the sitting-stool. "Look to the doorsill for the sight of all things" refers to the fact that the doorsill marks the entry into and out of a compound; therefore, it is privy to information on both what is happening inside the compound and what is happening in the street It looks inside and outside. It also conveys the meaning tbat, supposedly, there is always some witness to whatever a person is trying to hide. "Salute the cowife's knife for leaving nothing behind" refers to the knife used in the antiquated, cruel practice ofFemale Genital Mutilation (FGM) euphemistically referred to as the excision ceremony for young women in the second age group, who are also going through the most important custom of rite de passage from childhood to adulthood, i.e., circumcision, or trimming or completely removing the initiate's genital organs, or clitoridectomy. 149 The initiation and circumcision of boys as well as girls, in traditional Mandinka society, is looked upon as a deciding factor to giving a girl or boy the status of womanhood or manhood. ''The co-wife's knife" refers specifically to the notion that if a co-wife were to "circumcise" or excise another co-wife, it is sure that she would leave very little for sexual stimulation after the operation, so that her co-wife competitor would not have a great deal to offer her husband. Abstractly, the expression has the meaning that, if you want to get a job done, find someone with a vested interest in seeing that it gets done (Bird 102-103). Bird further notes that "Much of the hunters' philosophy is expressed in these formulae. Primarily, they refer to the importance of knowledge, the importance ofknowing the nature of the universe and how to find crucial evidence for the delicate art of survival in the bush" (1 02). They are advice to young men and women to examine the minutest detail in search ofthe evidence that may prove crucial to their survival. Formulaic phrases are also especially useful to the singer in the rapid composition/performance of his tale. This basic repetitive pattern reflects the meter and syntactic structure that are the possession of the poet. It is quite possible that the very sound ofone word or phrase may suggest another on the basis ofacoustic value as with the mnemonic formulae just discussed. Restatement might be a better term in this discussion, than repetition, since references to the hero and ideas are repeated without, at the same time repeating the exact words or phrases that conveyed them when they were first stated. Repetition suggests the repeating of the same words. Among the ideas most often restated is the identification of the hero by the use of his praise-names. Here, Daniel Kunene's method of descriptive analysis, in his Heroic Poetry of the Basotho can be quite useful outside the specific 150 cultural context for which it was designed. Kunene treats repetition in the composition/performance ofBasotho poetry in his chapter, "Parallelism and Structure" (25). Helping to clarify the function of these elements, his discussion assumes the following order: Parallelism ofthought through the repetition ofwords and phrases; Parallelism ofthought through the restatement ofideas by synonyms and indirect references; Parallelism of grammatical structure through the repetition of Syntactical slots. (25) We can observe in The Epic ofKambili a plethora ofwhat Kunene refers to as repetition through words and phrases, through restatement of ideas by synonyms and indirect references, and through the repetition of syntactic slots. This kind ofrepetition is aesthetic. It does not repeat what has just been said in exactly the same words without alleviation by incremental elements, namely, words and phrases that keep the narrative moving by stating something new in the same syntactic slot; or, as seen earlier, by reversing the syntactic order to attain emphasis. Repetition of this sort can serve both the thematic and structural purposes of the poet. The composition/performance of The Epic of Kambili offers numerous examples of parallelism; from parallel single lines to parallel couplets and triplets, and finally to parallel praise-stanzas or paragraphs. Parallelism is used here in its commonly accepted meaning of arrangement of parts of a paragraph or stanza so that the elements of equal importance are balanced in similar construction. Such structural order applies to words, phrases, lines 151 and, ultimately, paragraphs. In addition, such structuring inevitably involves onaphora, that is the repetition of a word or words at the beginning or two or more successive lines of verse; as in the following example: I've seen a hunter, I've seen by friend. I've seen a hunter, I've seen my brother. I've seen a hunter, I've seen by sharer of pleasures. (1618) Lines, like paragraphs, are units of meaning and may be stated individually or in groups depending on the metrical and thematic need at the moment of composition/performance. This kind of paragraphing is common, though not rigid, throughout Kambili. I have merely tried to indicate something of the nature of the structure, and draw attention to some at least of the many ~ations which may occur. Many praise-names for the hero are inculcated in this pattern; some are based on verbs predicating the actions performed by the hero himself, or actions performed by persons other than the hero, while still other praises use adjectives-for example: Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy! (1 00) Fresh Hear-Cutter ... Fresh Liver-Cutter. (99) Green Head-Smasher ... Green Eye-Gouger. (1 01) Hot Pepper of the Game. (340) These are, respectively, verb to noun and adjective to noun epithets (praises) familiar to the oral epic tradition. It would be easy to add "Look to" or "Salute" to the beginning of each line and re-establish the basic pattern, e.g. 152 (Look to) Killer of the Ruthless .... (Salute) Hot Pepper of the Game ••.. "Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy, are praisenames identifying the hero as one who vanquishes enemies: those who are without compassion and those who are unworthily proud. "Hot Pepper'' is a praise-name that associates the hunter with heat and ihe ability to act. With the utterance of this praise-name, the game is imagined, hunted, killed, skinned and seasoned, by the ex1raordinary fleet and accurate hero-hunter. K.am.bili is such a hero, and the young initiates in the poet's audience are challenged by his mythical but compelling example. The final years of the second age grade (ages eighteen and nineteen) are the period when young men want to impress young women, by their acts of bravery and resourcefulness as well as their mental, emotional and spiritual strength: and the superlative manifestations ofthese traits is matched by appropriate praises and praise-names. These were the times when, as Daniel Kunene rem;nds us, "the brave walked with pride and the cowardly longed for the oblivion of the grave •.• women were not attracted by a man, however handsome he might be, if he was a coward. A woman's aim was to find a man who could prove himselfin battle. . . . Such a one, however ugly he might be, was loved, and songs were composed for him, praising him and deriding others" (Heroic Poetry 10}. So it is that the poet, Seydou Camara, can exclaim: Skinning-Knife of the Game, we Salute Kambili SananfilaJ Great buffalo fighting is not easy for the coward Great buffalo fighting is not easy for the unsure. (23-25) 153 Praising Kambili Sananfila, who has earned the praise-name "Skinning-Knife" due to his speed in hunting, killing and skinning his prey before his competitors, which gained for him the respect and admiration ofhis peer-group, as well as the envy and jealousy of those who cower in fear and trembling. Hunting buffalo, in a more traditional and surely rural milieu, is an age-group responsibility-it is not a responsibility for children or for the elderly-and, for Kambili and his age-mates in the Mandinka world ofhis day, it must have been an act of tremendous skill and courage to the be first among one's age-group to track, kill and skin a buffalo. Of equal symbolic importance to the Mandinka people of the Savannah region of the Western Sudan, is the ''homed viper," a symbol of kingship. After a litany of praises for Bari, the omen reader, for determining the mother of the hero-to-be, the Imam speaks the praise of the awaited child, Kambili: The Fresh Heart-Cutter and the Fresh Liver-Cutter! Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy! Cracker of Green Heads and Gouger of Green Eyes! Eater of Cold Meals and Drinker of Cool Water! (1180-1183) And then concludes with this line that seems to express the acme of praise for the hunter: "Man, your mother gave birth to a vicious homed viper, Allah (1184). ''The Fresh Heart -Cutter and the Fresh Liver-Cutter'' are praise titles for the hero-hunter since he is the first to reach the game and therefore the first to reach the best parts. "Eater of Cold Meals and Drinker of Cool Water'' is another way of praising the hunter by reference to his quotidian routine; i.e. the hunter always returns late at night, so late that his food has 154 gone cold and his water is cool since it will have been longer in the cooling jar. The homed viper is said to be the most inactive snake of all. It is the acme of cool; the snake least likely to react. Supposedly, the homed viper has two taboos; one, if its tail is stepped on it will strike and, two, if it smells feces it will attack. If either of these taboos is violated, the homed viper quickly transforms into one ofthe most dangerous snakes in West Africa. This is a striking and compelling metaphor for the qualities one would like to observe in heroism and in kingship, but also in everyday hygienic necessity for young initiates. A hero-king should be impervious to most superficial agitations, cool under control and immaculate. But, when it is time to act, one must strike with power and accuracy. To the question: "Why are these qualities admired?" Kunene states appropriately: The answer is simple. The men ofthese days had to "look like the time" their survival depended very much on their possessing the qualities which they saw in their powerful adversaries, qualities with a great destructive potential. Hence, the admiration also of the wild predators. Observing these, the warrior saw their cunning. He observed how the lion's roar struck terror into his (the lion's) enemies, etc. He saw these qualities and desired them for himself .... He not only teared these animals, but at the same time he admired them, and therefore he composed praises for them. (Heroic Poetry 132-3) The poet, therefore, evokes the name and characteristics of a respected animal or reptile in the environment, and metaphorically goes on to bestow upon the hero attributes associated with the animal in question, e.g. courage, surety, assertiveness, retributiveness, resourcefulness and resoluteness. 155 Such praises can praise both the hero and the animal with which he is identified-a true metaphor in that the qualities and characteristics of the animal or reptile are bestowed upon the person. For example, the antelope is praised by Seydou Camara not for aggressive, vicious or political reasons, but rather for just being: Great Stallion of the plain without saddle. His belly, great; it's not ftom begging. His mouth, white; but his mouth hasn't dipped in the worthless one's mother's flour. His tail is close to the ground; the worthless one's band won't get it His ear, great; it will never be the worthless one's mother's scoop. (2154-2158) Here, the resourcefulness, speed and cunning of the antelope can be compared to the resourcefulness, speed and cunning of the hero. There is also an element here of the sheer gracefulness and dogged independence ofthe animal being praised for its own sake, for its antelopehood. This kind of comparative, metaphorical praising is used frequently in the composition/performance of The Epic ofKmnbili; e.g. Great-Eyed Nightbird, The Cat, Hot Pepper, Dl-Wind ofthe animals, and so forth. In each instance, the hero is being identified with phenomena of nature which are noted for possessing to the highest degree the qualities observed and praised in the hero (Kunene 37). For those in the second age group, ages nineteen to twentyeight, represent the next stage in their rites ofpassage-marriage. The social position of a married man and woman (especially after 156 they have had children) is of greater importance and dignity than that of a bachelor or spinster; which is why the poet proclaims: A woman chaser doesn't become a hunter. (28) The great lover does not become a hunter. (1 05) Death is not bard but for "Who come after me?" (87) The idea inherent in the last proverb is that death is difficult, if a man has no progeny. "Proverbs" Hale reminds us, "are the most ubiquitous example ofverbal art, spoken by every mature member of society. Their use reflects a full grasp of the cultural values of a people and reveals a readiness for adulthood (130). The unity and perpetuation of the society is assured by Kambili's marriage to Kumba, the "lion-woman," a woman with supernatural powers. It is during the celebration of the wedding between K.ambili and Kumba that the hero is told of the bloody rampage of the "lionman," Cekura-and, inter alia to impress Kumba, he merely responds that the "lion-man" is a pushover: They had thus finished the wedding procession. The wedding speeches had been given, Allah! When the message had been given to Kambili, It was none but the hunter K.ambili's voice: "This man-eating lion is going to die .•.. Ah! If the man-eating lion is going to die in Jimini, The lion is going to die with one shot in Jimini!" (2092-2098) The final proofofKambili's heroic promise comes at the moment of his triumph over the communal crisis. Kambili does what he says he is going to do, he heroically vanquishes the lion-man, Cekura, with a single blast ofhis rifle; in gratitude the hunters (the 157 culture group which the epic celebrates) raise Kambili up, above their shoulders, and salute his prowess: You have taken us from under the execution sword, Kambili You have rescued the hunters, And saved the fanners, And saved the whole army. May Allah not keep you behind. May Allah not take the breath from you, Kambili. (2615-2620) Kambili represents a character in whom the virtue and, perhaps, the failure ofliving is superhumanly concentrated. By vanquishing the lion-man, Cekura, Kambili restores the collective security of the community, and wins praise and a wife for himself. In a sense, we can say that Kambili does what he does because he is who he is: a character who represents the highest ideals (physically, mentally and morally) to which a society can aspire in its search for excellence and security. It is, therefore, significant that the epic ends with a song of praise for one of the women essential to the hero's final victory over the communal threat: A woman to surpass all women Kumba has no match among women. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! She lies beside a hunter brave. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! (2697-2683) The lion was made to cry in despair. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba. Ah! The Jimini man-eating lion has been killed. The reason was Kumba The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! (2703-2707) 158 So it is that the birth, the youth, the attending manhood, the marriage and the exploits of an invincible hero provide The Epic of Kambili with a thematic and structural pattern useful in the organization and design of the work as a whole. Chapter Ten The Story: A Synopsis The story of Kam.bili, a mythical hero, is composed of three major sections: the events leading up to his birth, his youth up to his marriage to Kumba, and the events leading up to the death of the Iimini lion-man, Cekura. The first part opens with Kanji, Samori's field general, going to Samori and asking for his help. Kanji's problem is that he has nine wives, but no children. Samori calls all the omen readers and magicians from Kayirawane to find the answer to Kanji's sterility. If they cannot fully solve the problem, Samori threatens to take their heads. A number of magicians consult their varied arts for the truth and each discovers that a great son will be bom to Kanji. When asked which wife will have'the child, the magicians cannot supply the information and they are summarily executed. Finally, only two seers are left, the Marabout and Bari the Truth-Seer. Both men find out, through their art, that Kanji can only have a son by his rejected wife, Dugo, who has been sent out by the other wives to herd goats. Bari, the Truth-Seer, first discovers the correct answer. TheMarabout, throughjealousy, tries 159 160 to trick Bari, but Bari's magical ability is too great and the Marabout withdraws. This is an extremely interesting aspect of Seydou Camara's Kambiliz. He does not, necessarily, denigrate Islam but he goes to great pains to show that the knowledge to be gained from Islam is inferior to traditional religion. Through a series of intrigues, Dugo is brought back to the palace and bedded with Kanji. Soon Kambili is hom. In the second section ofthe story, Kanji's first wife, who is to blame for all ofDugo's original hardships, tries to kill Kambili, but Kanji rescues him and kills the evil first wife. Kambili grows up to be a great hunter. Numerous episodes are told of his exploits with the animals of the bush. He brings home a leopard, then a buffalo on a leash, thinking them to be his father's stray pets. He becomes a leader of the hunters. This section ends with his marriage to Kumba, a beautiful girl with considerable magical talents of her own. When it is announced that there is a lion-man in Jimini, Kambili is engaged to destroy him before the lion-man devours the entire village. Kumba learns the identity ofthe lion-man, and Bari the king of Omens is called to discover the source of the lionman's secret power. Bari tells Kumbaand Kambili they need some hair from under his ann, and from his crotch; a sandal from his foot; and a pair of his old trousers. Kumba tricks the lion-man, obtains the necessary items, and returns with them. Bari then tells Kambili to bury the items by the old tree near the market and to consult the idol called Nya-ji. The idol tells Kambili where he is to encounter and kill the lion-man. 161 Kambili sets the trap, using a young boy as bait. Kum.ba brings the lion-man into the trap. The lion-man's magic causes Kambili to fall asleep. Just as he is about to devour the boy, the boy's pleas awaken Kambili and he shoots and kills the lion-man. The poem ends with a festive celebration in Jimini, and the Imam grants generous gifts to Kambili and Kum.ba. The Epie ofKa mbiH By the Wasul u Hunte r's Musie ian Seydou Cama ra 163 165 .A.hl Master, Kanji and his goodjourney/ The dancers ofthe hero's dance have diminished The blessed child, Dugo 's Kambili has gone. The omen for staying here is not easy on things with souls. S .A slave passes a late evening• .A slave doesn't stay long among you. There was no reason for Mother Dugo the Owl's going to rest, The lion has no reason to seize the child ofman, Kambili. Then look to the traclcing dog for the hunting dog. 10 Look to the sitting-stoolfor seizing all the smells. Look to the doorsill for the sight ofall things. Salute the co-wife's knife for leaving nothing behind Look to the saltfor the success ofthe sauce. Salute the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. 1S Don 'tyou blow it's the stool that also hears many things? I've seen a hunter, I've seen 111J1 friend I've seen a hunter. I've seen 1f1J1 brother. I've seen a hunter. I've seen my sharer ofpleasures. Should the hunter be a Komo, 20 I wiH be his bard The Komo doesn 't.ftght a man, If he hasn't a good bard 166 Skinning-knife ofthe Game, we salute Kombili Sananfila! Great buffalo fighting is not easy for the coward 25 Great br!/falo fighting is not easyfor the unsure. A coward doesn't become a hunter, And become a man ofrenown. A woman chaser doesn't become a hunter, And become a man ofrenown. 30 A jealous husband doesn't become a hunter, The mourner never leaves the house. Salute Jinina as the rifleman. Heros, let's be ojj! The hidden brave is up to no good 35 A man dies, he never ends his problems. Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed A man's learning and his ability are not the same. Harp-playing Sedoufrom Kabaya has come. Falsity is not good, Master. 40 Look to Camara's sacred tree for the sacred tree of Mecca. The wing descends, the wing and its captives. The wing ascends, the wing and its captives. Long Bow, our Ancestor, your enemy-striking an-owl You hit a balenbon 167 45 From that day to this, One side ofthe balenbon has yet to recover. Should the wing move offto the east, You will hear its sound Should the wing move offto the west, SO You will hear its sound A.hl It's the voice ofSeydou! The thing is not easyfor all. It's the sound ofharp-playing Sedoufrom Kabaya. Dugo 's Kmnbili! The lion is evil. 55 Look to SaclaJ for the thing not easy for all. Gaoussou SaclaJ, I salute you! I say, my apprentices, I greet you. Guests, I greet you. Respected guests, I greet you, Allah! 60 Then look to the running dog for the hunting dog. The edge ofthe bush is never without the bushcow. Pve spoken to a hunter,· I've seen myfriend /"ve seen a hunter,· I've seen my brother. I've seen a hunter; I've seen my sharer ofpleasures. 65 Look to the catfor the thing not easy for all. Look to the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. Look to the loincloth for all-smells-catching cloth. 168 A man's totem is not the woman's loincloth. Neither is the woman's totem the woman's loincloth. 70 It's the loincloth that is the smell-catching cloth. Ah/ The dancer ofthe danger dance is lost. Jantumani ofSoloba has gone with Allah. The powder-master has gone back. The world has cooled off. 75 The invincible one has fallen/ Kulumba the Elder has gone to rest. The Elephant's Sldnning Knife has gone to rest, Kulumba the Elder. It was Allah who created the Elephant's Sldnning Knife. Didn't you mow the invincible one has gone with Allah? Ah! The omen for staying her is not easy on things with souls. 80 A slave passes a late evening,· A slave doesn't stay long among you. He has become the jujube, one long mound ofdirt. Jujubes have become the hero's portal. The tree oflife has become the coveringfor his nakedness. 85 Almighty Allah may refuse to do something. Allah is not powerless before anything. Death is not hard but for "Who comes after me?" 169 The slave knows nothing. Ah! It's the work ofAllah! Almighty Allah may refuse to do something. 90 Allah is not powerless before anything. Ah! Look to him born for a purpose for him comingfor a purpose. Greet the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. The stream-drying sun and the river-drying sun. The woman's loincloth and the breeze-catching cloth. 95 A name Is paidfor; a name is not to be forced A small deadly thing in hiding is up to no good I've seen a hunter; I've seen my friend. I've seen a hunter; I've seen my brother. Look to the fresh Heart-Cutter for the Fresh Liver-Cutter. 100 Killer ofthe Ruthless and Killer ofthe Hardy! Green Head Smasher and the Green Eye Gouger! The jealous one doesn't become a hunter. The jealous one is blind and never leaves the house. A woman-chaser doesn't become a hunter either. 105 The great lover does not become a hunter, Nor does he become a man ofrenown. A name is a thing to be paid for; a name is not to be forced A small deadly thing in hiding is up to no good 170 The horned viper never leaves the dangerous grass. 110 Look to the duck for the heron. Toddle, toddle, dung is always in the elbow of the dirty mother. A man disltlres praise ofhis enemy. A man's profits do not satisfy his enemy, KambUi Sananflla. The Jimini conflict was not easy. 115 Ah! Lies are evil, Kambili. The birth ofKambili was not easy in Jimini. Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed. The Imam's warrior chiefis laid to rest. The Imam's powder-master is laid to rest. 120 The Imam's army chiefis laid to rest. Ah! Falsity is evil! Ah! Falsity is evil! Falsity does not pray. Falsity does not fast. 125 The totem ofthe Man-Killer-King is not violated Toure ni Manjun has laid down. Last judgement's darkness is never without visitors. Ah! Manjun has gone back. When I've seen a hunter; I've seen my friend 171 130 I call out to the cat, Kambili Sanan:fila. The name ofKambili's father was Sananfila Kanji. Kanji had nine wives. None of them had given birth to a child. He became anxious for a child, Allah! 135 Kanji was a soldier. Kanji was the chief of the soldiers. The Imam's chief of the soldiers. Kanji was chief of the soldiers. The Imam's chief of the soldiers. 140 Kanji went off, Taking ten red kolas, And presented himself to the Imam. I have failed. I can do no more. I have nine wives. 145 They have not yet given birth." Ah! Failure to have children is bad Bitterness between the co-wives is bad!" Ah! Bitterness is bad, Kambili. So too is bitterness between men, Kambili. 150 Ah! Toure ni Manjun rose up. He said, "Sananfila Kanji" ''Yes!" he replied. 172 "I am going to call the reason-seekers in Jimini." "The Jimini reason-seekers are evil, Imam! 155 The reason-seekers have gone through my cow herd. They have gone through the sheep herd They have gone through my goat herd, And gone through my chicken flock. They have gone through my good gowns. 160 They have gone through my good hats. They have gone through my good caps, And gone through my good pants." "Ah! What's that you say, Kanji? Don't you want to have a child?" 165 "Ah! Manjun, please help me. If not, I can do no more, But the world is full of liars, cheats and troublemakers. The reason-seekers live by telling evil lies in Jimini." .Ah! The hero is welcome only on troubled days. 170 The place where men are seized is not void ofnoise either. It is no other than Toure ni Majun speaking. He said: "Kanji!" "Yes!" the reply. ''Call Morifinjan. Call Fadam.a the Bard. 175 Go take the enemy-killer sword there. 173 I'm going after the reason-seekers, Allah!" He took the execution sword to Jimini. Yes, he took the man-killer sword to Jimini. Taking also ten red kolas with him, 180 And went up to the reason-seekers. "Ah! King of omens, come here! And help me in this child affair. I can do no more, Bari." Bari was placed in the great meeting house in Kayirawane. 185 ''Kanji, call Konk.e before me!" Toure ni Manjun has gone to last judgement. One man's death does not put an end to last judgement. Were it so, Samori's death would have put an end to it, But all things that stand eventually lie down. 190 Death does not pass a man by because he's been to Mecca. Since many good Mecca travelers have gone to rest. Death does not pass a man by because of his family. Death does not pass a man by because of his charm. There is no thing that stands that does not lie down. 195 Ah! Toure ni Manjun has fallen, Kambili t Words are beautiful from the father's mouth more so than the uncle's. Before the child who circumsizes his father, 174 His uncle has no reason to hide his sex. Defecating suits the old hound. 200 He doesn't have to lower his pants. Having many children agrees with the old cock. He doesn't have to feed them. Having many wives agrees with the old cock. He doesn't have to feed them. 205 Look to Mother Dugo the Owl for the big-eyed night bird. The hero is welcome only on troubled days. Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed. Habit has made pepper a thing to eat Without that, pepper is not a thing to eat. 210 Ah! Safo has fallen! The thing is not easy for all. Imam! I call out to you, Allah! Misfortune is going to fall on Jimini. Ah! Manjun! 215 He spoke to the omen reader, And spoke to the cowrie thrower. He spoke to the great holy man. He spoke to the man of the Koran. "Come help me in this child affair, 220 Those of you who speak with Allah." 175 He spoke to the spirit master. "Come help me in this child affair, Those of you who know the cowries, So that Kanji can have a child." 225 Ah! Master! The thing is not easy for all. The man of the house and the man of the bush are not one. Some men like the house, They don't like the bush, They don't like the house. 230 The brave of the house and the brave of the bush are not one. Having used pants to put on is better than being a useless child. Having used caps to put on is better than being a useless child. Having used gowns to put on is better than being a useless child. 235 Man, the hero is welcome only on troubled days. The brave may die, he never puts an end to his problems. Naked Buttock Battler and Naked Chest Battler. Look to the Green Head Smasher for the Green Eye Gouger. You who have offered me a skull 240 As a face-washing bowl, 176 And offered me a skin As a covering cloth. You have given me a great tongue So that I may speak to the world. 245 The brave offered me fresh blood As face-washing water, And gave me a tail As a hut-sweeping broom, And offered me a thighbone 250 To use as a toothpick. It is the hunter who has done this for me. There was no reason for Kambili's return. Ah! Death does not pass a man by if he be charming. Death does not pass a man by if he has a great family. 255 Death does not pass a man by if his life be easy. The Jim.ini conflict was not easy, Kambili Sanafila! The child cries for the breast, Kambili! Death is not hard but for "Who comes after me?'' It's the sound of the call for the traditional dish. 260 The birth ofKambili was not easy for Jimini. "Has the Omen King been called? And have you called the cowire thrower? And called the water reader? 177 And called the blackbag man? 265 And called to the learned holy man? So that they come to the palace in Kayirawane." "They are all in the palace in Kayirawane." "Ah! Moritinjan! Where has Fadama the Bard gone? Go then and get the execution sword 270 And place it beside the reason-seekers!" It's blade was of gold, it's handle of silver. All totems may be violated, But the Man-Killer-King's totem is not violated. Man, the hero is only welcome on troubled days. 275 A name is a thing to be bought; a name is not to be forced. It's the voice ofK.abaya's harp-playing Seydou! The slave does not know his destiny; it is Allah alone. Ah! Allah has been good to harp-playing Seydou. Playing before the European is not easy for all. 280 The strings have been good to the Kabaya smith. Thus, to each slave, the sound ofhis awakening. It is the work of Allah, It is the voice of Daman's harp-playing bard, no lie! Look to Camara's sacred tree for the scared tree ofMecca. 285 The wing descending makes its noise. Should Camara's arrow miss you, 178 Lighting will have missed you. Seydou, make your harp-strings sing for me! It's not easy for all. 290 The battle atJatola wasn't easy. The hunt at Felen Mountain wasn't easy. The battle at laban Mountain wasn't easy. Dagadalakolen wasn't easy. Mother ~o 295 the Owl has gone to rest, Allah! The debt of death is never passed by for the living. There was no reason for Tenenkun Moussa's return. The world has cooled off. Ah! The battle has begun! Jimini will not be pleasant! 300 Kanji gave the ten kolas to Samori. He spoke to the blackbag man. Telling them to assemble in one meeting hut in Kayirawane, And called the executioner to sit beside them. He spoke to the blackbag man. 305 ''Man, come help me in this child affair." He came with his black bag. He came shaking his black bag. Eight women were there, each staring at the others. 179 The ninth had become the outcast wife. 310 Theoutcastwife'snamewasDugo. Dugo, the goatherd, Because of vicious bitterness, Because of the wives' evil jealousy. If you are not afraid of evil jealousy, 315 You are not afraid of anything, Ah! Vicious jealousy is bad! The thing is not easy for all. The wives' vicious jealousy will not succeed. Ah! Dugo the Scorned! 320 The favorite wife's child won't succeed. The lazy man's wife's child won't succeed. The big-bottomed wife's child won't succeed. He will die from his exploits. He'll never master the hunter's powder. 325 Ah! Do not make fun of the outcast woman-child! The omen for staying here is not easy on things with souls. A slave passes a late evening; a slave doesn't stay long among you. Should you come and find a slave gone, he may be hell's slave. Allah, may you lighten Last judgment for my friend. 180 330 Born for a reason and learning are not one. (If you speed up the strings, I am not able to speak.) Parisian's man ofthe hour, I say "Bravo!" Look to the cat for the hunting wildcat. 335 Great buffalo fighting does not please the coward. A coward doesn't become a hunter, And become a man of renown. A name is a thing to be bought; a name is not to be forced. A small deadly thing in hiding is up to no good. 340 Hot Pepper of the Game, good evening! Ahl The bagman had come! And come shaking his bag. What words did he say? He spent a long time shaking. 345 He said, "My father Imam, my mother Imam! "Yes," the reply. He said, "Toure ni Manjunl" "Yes," the reply. "Kanji is going to have a child. He is going to be a vicious hunter. 350 He will become a hunter of great name. The whole world will know ofhim. He will kill a man-eating lion, Allah!" 181 "Man," he replied, "there's nothing wrong with • But nine women cannot be pregnant with one child, 355 So get yourself together and look for the mother's name quickly. Will it be my dark wife? Will it be my favorite wife? Or will it be my outcast wife?" So he put the black bag up to his ear. 360 "Ahl Manjun! There are no lies in this child affair." He will be a child offortune. He will not be an unfortunate child. He will be the man of the hom and the man of destiny. Then look to the cat for the hunting master. Look to the sitting-stool for seizing all the smells. 365 "A woman will give birth to a vicious hunter in Jimini." "Ahl" he replied, "Kanji! Hear the bagman's words! A noble woman will bear a son." "Will it be the pretty light woman?" 370 Kanji continued, "Blackbag man, hurry yom footl Hurry your mouth! And tell us the name of the child's mother. So that we can make sacrifices 182 In order to solve this child affair." The blackbag man shook and shook, 375 And finally said he had no way of knowing the name of the mother. "The bag is only for signs. It does not know people's name." "Aha!" he said, "Where has the executioner gone?" The Imam Samori's likeness was Konke the Sword. 380 When he went off to Last Judgment, He had displeased Samori, Who said to bring him to Konke's place. That was not easy for the living. They took away the bagman, 385 And trimmed a bit off his height. If he had kept telling evil lies, He would have made the army flee, Since he was there telling lies in Jimini. And his head was cut off at his neck, 390 Making his two shoulders inseparable friends, Saying, that vagabond will not put an end to the world. "You will not make my regiment rebel! You didn't know the mother's name, cheat! Disdain is on you!" 183 395 Ah! The bagman,s head was cut off at his neck. His two shoulders became inseparable friends. And thus he died, quite dead. He became but an object of disdain for the hunters, Kambili. He called to the cowrie thrower. 400 "Come help me with this child affair, You have no equal in reading omens." Well, the cowrie thrower came. He came with his winnowing basket, And came with his ten and two, 405 The scattering of cowries began. He said, "Toure ni Manjun! Ah! Master, I would not trick you. A woman is going to bear a child. He will not only be a hunter, 410 He will be a lion-killing hunter. He will save your regiments, He will rescue the champion fanners, And rescue all the wood gatherers.,, "Ah!" he answered, "Cowrie thrower! 415 I didn,t ask you for a big pile of words, Huny up quickly and tell me the mother's name. 184 Nine woman cannot be pregnant with one child. No slave knows Allah! Look well to it!" The cowrie thrower scattered the cowries 420 And scattered them again, Master. He spoke to the man-Killer King. "Toure Di Manjun," he said. "May it please Allah the King, And please his prophet, Mohamed, 425 I have no means ofknowing the mother's name. The cowries are only for signs, Toure." "Ah!" your own mouth has sung your funeral song, Man. Your own mouth has sung your funeral song! Seize the cowrie thrower. 430 And take him to the place ofKonke the Sword. So that he will not scatter my army." The cowrie thrower's head was cut off at his neck. His two shoulders became inseparable :friends. He became a cotpse, quite dead! 435 Kambili's birth was not easy for JimiDi. The Man-Killer King's totem is not broken between heaven and earth. The dust ofdeath is heavy. Ah! Look to the tracking dog for the hunting dog. J8j Greet the sitting stool for seizing all the smells. 440 He called out to the old sandal man. "Come help me in this child affair, You who speak the bitter truth. Hurry the old sandal man along, Allah!" The old sandal man came. 445 He bought a piece of balenbon bark And the rib of a ram, With a cowrie on the top of his head. He fell in to scrapping. He took the balenbon bark 450 And placed the ram's rib on top of it, And scrapped and scrapped and scrapped. He rose up, saying "Toure ni Manjun!" "Yes!" "Man-Killer King!" "Yes." ''KalVi will have a young son. 455 He will become a great brave. He will kill the man-eating lion. He will kill the great python. He will become a vicious hunter, no lie. Kambili will finish the man-killing lion, 460 And save all your warriors, And save all your bird hunters. 186 He will save the little calves." Ah! It was none but Manjun's voice. He said, "Old sandal man!" "Yes?" 465 ''Nine women cannot be pregnant with one child. Quick like a flash, Tell me the mother's name. If you do, you can go." He rubbed the old sandal back and forth. 470 He spoke out to the Imam. He said, "Toure ni Manjunt" "Yest" the reply. "Man-Killer King!" "Yes!" the reply. "I have no way ofknowing the mother's name. Their task is but to give signs, 475 Therefore the old sandals do not speak." "Ah!" he replied, "Where has the execution sword gone? Call out to the executioner That he come with his head-cutting sword. That he bring my enemy-killer sword. 480 Take this old sandal man, And leave him at the place of Konk.e the Sword, So that he not destroy my anny. He has been telling evil lies in Jimini." For a man going to cast off his soul, 187 485 Walk.ing is not a pleasure for him. The old man waddled from side to side, Allah! He went following Morifinjan. They walked and walked and walked, Until they arrived at the execution place. 490 He would never tell lies like that ever! Their work was telling vicious lies. They went through Kanji's pants, And went through his good gowns, And went through the livestock, 495 And went through all the calves. They have gone through the goat herd. They have gone through the chicken flock. Their job is but filth, Master. Cut some off of his height, 500 And leave him at Konke the Sword's place, So that he will not destroy the army. The old sandal man's head was cut off at his neck. Big trouble bas begun in Jimini! The little man fell floppong about like a tramp in the cold. 505 Look to the Hot Pepper Man for the thing not easy for all. The mixed-up man's life was shortened. Ifl insult the king, I have insulted Allah! 188 Kamara, King of the drum, give praise to Allah! There is no man more fierce than the king fighter. 510 Ah! The reason-seekers! Pressure was put on the reasonseekers! Then a birth-giving woman with bitterness in her belly, She will not give birth to one with hairy calves. A brave in hiding is up to no good. The homed viper in hiding never leaves the dangerous grass. 515 Ah! The spirits will love him! They called out to the bard That he call the Komo man, The Komo-hyena man. It was Nerikoro. 520 Nerikoro's master was called Numari the Elder. They called out to the Komo. "Come help me in this child matter. Come with your Komo mask. Come with your Komo bell. 525 Ah! It was Nerikoro. "Come with all your Komo bells, Come with all your good bards. Come with all your good drums, Allah! 189 Help me in this child affair." 530 Kanji can do no more in the child affair at Jimini. The reason-seekers have emptied his band. A name is bought; a name is not to be forced. Nerikoro, the Komo man has come! Fakoli was a smith, Samori! 535 If an insult is made to a smith, pleasure will sour. The world's first child was a smith, An insult to a smith, pleasure is ruined. Ahl Smith! Samori! If you insult a smith ... 540 The world's first child is the smith. An insult to a smith, pleasure is ruined. The forgers of hoes are smiths. Nunkulumba The pen is from the smith. 545 Nunkulumba The axe handle is from the smith. Nunkulumba The origin of the forge is from the smith. Nunkulumba 550 The source of the execution sword is the smith. Nunkulumba 190 The source of the bullet is the smith. Nunkulumba The pestle is from the smith. 555 Nunkulumba The pounding mortar is from the smith. Nunkulumba Ah! If you insult the smith, Man-Killer King! If an insult is made to a smith ... 560 The world's first child was a smith, my people. An insult to a smith, pleasure will sour. (Hurry your hand on the string, string-player!) If an insult is made to a smith, (Hurry your hand on the strings, harpists!) 565 An insult to a smith, pleasure will sour. Ah! Smiths, people of the smiths! If an insult is made to a smith, The world's first child was a smith, Samori. An insult to a smith, pleasure will sour. 570 (Hurry up on the strings, harpists!) If an insult is made to a smith, Pleasure will be spoiled. The skinning-knife is from the smith. Nunkulumba 191 575 The plow is from the smith. Nunkulumba The beginning of killing the lion is from the smith. Nunkulumba The hoe is from the smith. 580 Nunkulumba Don't be cruel to the smith! Pleasure will sour. You'd better not bother the smith, Fula! If you insult the smith, pleasure will sour. 585 Fa Jigi was a smith, my people. An insult to a smith, pleasure will sour. And he said, "Kulumba, the Komo bard! Ah! Kulumba! Bring this message to Samori No slave should offend another slave. 590 I'm really bothered by this child affair." Ah! Namu-sayers! Thus Nerikoro addressed himself to Kulumba: He said, "Kulumba of the smiths! Kulumba! Ah! 595 I have been called for the child affair, Jogosan Kulumba, For Kanji's child affair, Jogosan Kulumba. No lie has been told in this child affair, Ah! 192 To each slave the reason for his awakening ! I'm going to speak to the women." 600 He said, ''Birth-giving women! Your talent is in piles of lies! The slave knows nothing, Kulumba of the forge. Kulumba, won't you stop trading for slaves, Ah! You have made your work the slave trade, Kulumba 605 You will be battered by the stick, And be both a corpse on land, And a corpse in the water." He then spoke to the Imam. "~my 610 Man-Killer King! If you're not afraid of the Man-Killer King, You're not afraid of anything!" Ah! Toure ni Manjun! The Komo-hyene danced and danced. And changed himself into an eagle, 615 And rose, wings flapping, Saying his powers were not for earthly battles, Kambili. Ah! E! My time has come. Yes, the time for rising off the ground has come! Now's the time. 620 Rising off the ground time has come! 193 No slave should offend another slave. Nerikoro's time has come. Now's the time. The Komo Nerikoro's time has come. 625 Imam, my time has come! Man-Killer King, my time has come! Ah! My time has come! The Komo Nerikoro's time has come. Ah! My time has come! 630 The good Komo's time has come! Ah! The time has come! The Komo Nerikoro's time has come. Ah! The time has come! The time to leave the earth has come! 635 Ah! The time has come! The Komo Nerlkoro's time has come. No slave should offend another slave. My time has come! Ah! The time has come! 640 The Komo Nerikoro 's time has come. Ah! The time has come! The time has come for those of the smiths! Ah! The time has come! 194 The rising off the ground time bas come. 645 Well, Jogsan Kulumba! Bard of the Komo, man of the moment, a good speech! The Komo thus changed himself into an eagle, And rose up into the clouds, flapping. And went to light on a mountain at Kona. 650 Since that time, Nerikoro bas not been seen. They spoke then to Kulumba the Bard. "Jogosan Kulumba, stop dealing in slaves; You will be mastered yourself by it, no matter what." They gathered around Kulumba. 655 The slaves gathered around Kulumba on the clearing on the hill, And beat Kulumba with a stick, And killed Kulumba, And burned Kulumba, And gathered Kulumba's ashes, 660 And tossed them in the water, Throwing them into the deepest part. Ahl Comrades! I don't tell lies. Ah! Everything has been explained, But the Komo-Hyena's thing can't be explained, 665 Today's people have explained everything. 195 But Neri's thing cannot be explained. Today's people have finished explaining everything, But the Komo-Hyena's thing cannot be explained. They've succeeded in explaining everything, 670 But Neri's thing cannot be explained. Those who study have finished explaining everything, Well, the Komo' s thing cannot be explained. Today's people have explained everything, But the Komo Neri's thing cannot be explained. 675 Today's people have finished 1racing everything, Well, Neri' s thing cannot be explained. Today' s people have explained everything. But the Komo Neri's thing cannot be explained. Ah! Namu-sayers! 680 Ah! E! Namu-sayers! It was Nerikoro who thus was lost. As for Kulumba the Komo's bard, He packed up his bags And went off somewhere between here and Last Judgement. 685 The slaves beat him with sticks, And opened wounds on Kulumba, Jogosan Kulumba, And made him a corpse on land, Kulumba. 196 The smith went back where he came from. Ah! E! The slave does not know his end! 690 Ah! Namu-sayers! The learned holyman thus moved onto the scene. They called out to the learned holyman. The one holyman, come bless me with your staff. A dead man has no worries. 695 Ah! Master, come with your staff, Master holyman! A dead man bas no worries. Ah! Master, come with your staff for a salute to death. A dead man has no worries. Ah! Come offer me your staff: Master holyman! 700 A dead man does not move. Learned Master! Come with your staff, Master holyman! A dead man feels no pain. Ah! Come with your staff, learned master! A dead man has no worries. 705 Ah! Come with your staff, learned holyman! It's the salute to the dead man. Ah! Learned holyman, come with your staff. A dead man has no problems. Well, Master, come with your staff, learned holyman. 710 dead man has no pain. 197 I say, learned holyman, come with your staff, king of holyman. A dead man has no problems. Ahl Holymanl And master, come with your staft1 A dead man has no pain. 715 Ahl The holyman has come. The man of the Koran has come. Ah! The man of the Koran has come, Kambili Sananfilal The man of the Koran has come, Kambili! Man, the hero is only welcome on troubled days. 720 It is not good to put aside tradition for one day's pain. Death may put an end to a man, it does not end his name. There is no other source of pity beyond Allah. Hearing the wretched out is better than mine-is-at-home. Ahl The holyman has come! 725 The holyman of the Koran has come! The man spoke to the Imam, "I've been called for the child affair. I have come to solve the child affair." Ah! And then the holyman splie saying he would enter the pmyer The holyman entered the prayer house, 730 And the door was closed on the man of the Koran. 198 Ah! I will be a question ofdisdain! Ah! Lies are evil, Namu-sayers! The holyman spent seven days in the prayer house. He said, "Jalo and Jakite, 735 Sidibe and Sangare!" The call for the tent raisers and the tent movers. Four families ofFula, four families of Jatara! The Fula and the bullet were bom on the same day. Death may reach a man, 740 It does not reach his renown, Bari Sinasi! While he was there, they called Bari the Omen Reader. They said, "Bari the Omen Reader! Put your hand in the dust So that you can help us resolve this child affair today." 745 The brave put his hand in the long bow dust. He drew sisteen arcs. The sections of the long bow, twenty-four. Namusa Naburume 750 Bala without death Bala without awakening Nonkon Forokoro Titumu Mansa 199 Kenken Mamuru 155 Filanin Fabu Twenty-four sections of the long bow. E! Jimini has called me for the child affair! Nanusa Naburuma 760 Bala without death Bala without awakening A bell was in Bari the Omen Reader's hand And he sang the praises of the dust. The bird of omens was the speaker of omens. 765 The spirits took Bala away. From that day to this, Bala hasn't died, but Bala hasn't awakened. No one knows where Bala has gone. There is no King of Omens who knows where Bala has gone. For a person who has gone off with the spirits, 770 It is not known whether he is living or dead. Ah! Namu-sayers! The brave put his hand into the dust. Kumadise has appeared! Maromaro has appeared! 200 775 Karalan has appeared! Jibidise has appeared! Teremise bas appeared! Nsorosigi ni kate bas appeared! Ahl Namu-sayersl 780 This one bas become jibidisel This one has become k:aralanl The omen has come out! The omen has become yeremine. It's the omen for the birth of the child. 785 The old brave was sitting like a grasshopper, Keeping as still as a fisherman with his hook, Listening with both ears like a cat waiting for a mouse. He cried out, "Toure ni Manjun! Ahl Here's the problem! 790 I have found out the mother's name. I have found out the mother's family name. Let us go over in the corner, So I can tell you the mother's name, And then tell you the father's name. 795 Should that be said before the other women, They will prepare a poison, And give it to the husband. 201 If it's given to the husband, The child affair will never be resolved." 800 Aht Namu-sayers! Toure called out to Morifinjan, And called out to Fadama the Bard. He said, "Morifinjanl And you, Fadama the Bard, 805 Come, let's go. Let's go over into the comer after Bari. He is going to tell the child's name, As soon as we get in the comer. The thing is not east for alii" 810 And Bari said, "Toure ni Matgun, The child's name is Kambili. The mother's name is SananfiJa Dugo, Dugo who bas been put out as a goatherd, Because of vicious bitterness. 815 She will bear a vicious hunter for the world." Ah! It's not good. The co-wives' collective calumny will not succeed Family calumny will never succeed. Mother Dugo, did you hear? He said Dugo the Owl will give birth. 202 Ahl The mother's name is Dugo. 820 The child's father's name is Sananfila Kanji. They will bear an invincible child. The little one, hope of the group. And bear a protector of orphans, And bear a friend to the smiths. 825 Ahl Allah may refuse to do something, But Allah is not powerless before anything. Death is not hard but for "Who-comes-qfter?" The birth of one child is maJdng trouble in Jiminil Ahl Lies are not good, Kambili the Hunter, Kambili Sananfiall 830 Don't you see that the holyman bas come back onto the scene? It was none but Bari the Omen Reader's voice, "Go get a horsehead kola, Allah, And make it a sacrifice for the child affair." The Imam would put himself against people for nothing 835 And destroy those people's souls. He said, &&Ah! Ahl Sananfila Kanji! Go get a horsehead kola for me, So that I can put it in the dust. Bring the hom of a ram, 203 840 So that I can place it in the dust. And bring me the foreleg of the ram, I So that I can put it in the omen dust. Bring me a little bag, Bring me a small bow, 845 And bring me a rifle, And put it all in the dust, Kambili. Ah! Come then, Let us make the sacrifice!" No matter how long the day, it is never without end. 850 Old age does not let you sit down, if you don't have someone to do your part. They took out a small bow, And brought out a young boy's bag, Allah, And brought out a rifle. The rifle's name was Kume. 855 Kume was laid on the omen ground. They made the sacrifice for Dugo's Kambili. On Thursday morning, Bari took the horsehead kola And went to find Dugo. 860 Dugo was found in the goatherding place. Dugo was alone, ccying by herself: 204 It was none but Bari the Omen Reader's voice. He said, ''Beloved Dugo!" "Yes," the reply. "Dugo of the palace!" "Yes," the reply. 865 "What are you crying about, Beloved Dugo? Ah! Favored Dugo, why do you cry so?" "I'm crying for this child affair." ''Favored wife Dugo, why are you crying up on the bill?" "I'm crying for this child affair." 870 "Ah! Dugo of the Palace, why do you cry?'' "I'm crying for this child affair." ''Man-pleasing Dugo, why do you cry so?" "I suffer for this child affair." "Ahl Goatherd Dugo, why are you crying?" 875 "I'm in misery over this child affair." "Ah! Dugo the Despised, why do you cry?" "I'm crying over my fate." "Favored Dugo, why are you crying?" ''I suffer for this child affair." 880 Ah! And what song did Bari sing then? Ah! Favored Dugo, hush now, Dugo. Each day's dawning is not the same. Dugo, hush now, Dugo of the palace. Each day's dawning is not the same. 205 885 Ah! Queen of the orphans, hush now, favored one. Each day's dawning is not the same. Sometimes the day is against us. It's not forever. Each day's dawning is not the same. Ah! Man-pleasing woman, hush now, beloved Dugo. 890 Each day's dawning is not the same. Ah! Tall and beautiful Dugo, hush now, beloved. Each day's dawning is not the same. Sometimes the day is against us, it's not forever. Each day's dawning is not the same. 895 And what song did Dugo respond with? Ah! Falsity is not good, Bari. I have become the despised one. Ah! It's the work of Allah. There's no way to say it 900 It's Allah's work. Here I am married, Bari. I have never had my man, Bari. I've yet to sleep with my man, Bari, Because ofthe wives' vicious jealousy, Bari. 905 Ah! It's the work of Allah. There's no way to say it. It's Allah's work. 206 If you don't help me, Bari of the Omens, If you don't help me, 910 I'll never see the pleasures of this world. Ah! It's the work of Allah. There's no way to say it. It's Allah's work. Death is not hard, 915 Death is not hard, Bari. Death is not hard unless one leaves nothing behind. 125 Ah! It's the work of Allah. There's no way to say it. It's Allah's work. 920 Ah! We salute you, Kambili Sanafilal Last Judgment does not pass a man by if he comes from Mecca. Man, don't you know many good men ofMeccahave gone to rest? Death does not pass a man by if he has raised a great family. Death does not pass a man by ifhe has mastered the world. 925 No matter how tall the man, he'll end up one long mound. Look to Y arasuru for the soul-seizing angel. And Bari of the Omens said, "Dugo!" "Yes," the reply. 207 "Take this horsehead kola, And climb up in the tree, 930 And eat the kola in the shea tree, beloved Dugo." Ahl Dugo took the borsebead kola from Bari of the Omens. She climbed up in the tree, And ate the kola in the shea tree. "I'm powerless," she said, 935 "I will give my hand to Allah. I'm going to go with Allah the King." At that time Dugo could do nothing, Because of the co-wives' evil calumny. Although Dugo had been four years there, 940 Dugo and Kanji had never entered the same hut; The reason for this was simply bate. Ah! Namu-sayers! The preferred wife's child won't succeed. The whore wife's child won't succeed. 945 The big bottom-swaying wife's child won't succeed. The thieving wife's child won't succeed. The slut wife's child won't succeed. He'll never master the hunter's powder, Kambili Sananfila. 208 So Dugo ate the horsehead kola, 950 And Bari of the Omens returned to his home. He called out, ''Favored wife! Go look for a little pot, Allah. I will prepare a sacred pot for the birth of a child for Kanji, So that Kanji can leave an heir behind." 955 Ah! Namu-sayers!· The favored wife ran galump, galump, And went and bought a new pot, And came and gave it to Bari the Omen Reader, And went to look for a young boy's bag, 960 And gave it to Bari of the Omens, And went to buy one white kola, And came to give it to Bari of the Omens. "Bari, here's your one white pullet. Here's what you need for your birth pot, Bari. 965 Here is your bag, Bari. Help me in this child affair, Bari, Without that, the pity for my man is too great." Ah! The hunter and evil treachery are never far apart. Allah may refuse to do something. 970 Allah is not powerless before anything. Death is not hard but for "Who are my heirs?" 209 Pretty words and truth are not the same. Bari of the Omens walked on and on And came to the door of the house 975 And pulled off three strips of nere baric And put them in the bag. The nere bark was to be the wood for the pot. Aht Namu-sayerst He sat down at the base of Kanji's house, 980 And called out to the favored wife. "Haul up some water, To pour on the birth pot" Ah! The big one jumped up And hauled up some water from the well 985 And came to give it to Bari of the Omens. She said, "Bari, look well to it, Bari, So that I am the one to bear Kal\ji's child.'' Ah! The hero is only welcome on troubled days! The brave is more crafty than the woman. 990 Men are the masters oftreachery. He said, "You four women, sit down, And turn your backs. No women can see a Komo's pot, If your eye falls on the Komo's pot, 210 995 Your body will swell. Head lice will land on you. Body lice will cover you. They will rustle in your hair, And get in your underarm hair, 1000 And go attack the hair of your crotch. Don't you look at my pot!" The women sat down and turned their backs to Bari. He put the nere bark in the pot, And poured the new water on the pot, 1005 And put a cover over it, And mixed up his ashes, And put them on the birth-giving pot, And took out a kola,. Birth-giving pot, This is your one white kola. 1010 Ah! Kanji will have a child, Ifthe kola does not face the ground. The kola is something for the future, don't hurryl You take one part of the kola." The kola fell in favor of the birth-giving pot 1015 "You took one part. You left a part for me. Let me spit the kola on the pot, 211 And cut off a chicken's head over the pot." The chicken jumped and jumped, 1020 And fell over on its back among the pieces of kola. It's not easy for all. The favored wife jumped up And stood over the corpse of the chicken. She said, "As for this chicken corpse, 1025 No woman can touch the Komo's sacrificial chicken," Bari took the chicken corpse and gave it to the young smiths. He said, "Woman, I would not lie to you! I will give an order." Ahl Kanji intervened. 1030 It was none but Kanji's voice. He said, ''Bari of the Omens, do your best, So that I will have an heir." "My brave, be still, You will have a child for sure. 1035 Amanmayrefuseto do something, But the braves are not powerless before anything." The sacrifice of the pot thus ended. Ahl Namu-sayers! A name is bought, it is not to be forced 212 1040 A small deadly thing in hiding is up to no good Don't you know the holyman has started to act? The learned holyman has started to act. He said, ''Imam! Let me out of the prayer hut. 1045 I have seen the star of the child's mother. I have found out the mother's name. I have found out the father's name. If there is a woman near you I cannot say the name. 1050 I will write it on holy paper. The ancestor of the spirits, Samuwurusi, He sent me one of his assistants, Telling me to write the name down. "Toure ni Manjun! 1055 Let's go into the comer. I myself cannot give you the holy paper. Samawurusi, Ancestor of the spirits, He has given me one holy paper, It will be told on Thursday, 1060 Thursday in the morning, At the time of the second morning prayer, At the time of the hot morning sun. 213 A whirlwind will rip off the roof of the hut. The holy paper will leave with it, Imam. 1065 It shouldn~t get by the young boys When they have caught the holy paper They should bring it to the village Imam. You should come into the mosque. That which you will see on the holy paper, 1070 Is the child's name And the mother's name. Ah! Namu-sayers! When Thursday had already dawned, The door of the house was flung open. 1075 A tornado ripped off the roof of the hut Ah! The holy paper was blown out by the wind, Making it spin around, Making it spin round and round. They assembled all the young boys of the village. 1080 The Imam said, "Young boys of the village,!" "Yes," the reply. If the holy paper gets by you, The vulture is going to lean on the young boys. Ah! Namu-sayers! There was one young boy among the boys of the village, 214 1085 What was his name? His name was Sanson. When Sanson put human meat on the fire by the Niger, He would reach out his sorcerer's arm and take water from theSankara And put it on the human meat Don't you know that young man's intuitions served him well? 1090 He grabbed the holy message, Grabbed the holy message from the tornado In order to give it to the Imam. He called out to Fadama the Bard, And called out to Morifinjan, 1095 "Let's go find the Imam, So we can find out the mother's name And find out the father's name, And if the learned holyman has told the truth." Ah! Namu-sayers! 1100 They took holy message and bought it to the village Imam. There they read the message. It said the child's name was Kambili Sananfila. His father's name was Sananafila Kanji. His mother's name was Dugo Jalo. 11 OS Dugo was to give birth to a boy 215 He was to save all the people, An rescue all the great farmers, And save all the learned holymen, And save all the wandering merchants, 1110 And save all the travelers Aht The holyman slaver! The holyman buyer ofthe world! A hunter was going to be hom! Ah/ Falsity is not good/ Many brides may talce a husband, 111 S They all don't give birth to hunters. Mother Dugo the Owl will give birth. A name is bought; a name is not to be forced A .fish may escape a net, He won't get out ofone stretched out all over. 1120 The writing was read by the Imam. It was none but the Imam's voice, Saying, "Toure ni Manjun! The child's name is Kambili. His mother's name is Jalo Dugo. 1125 His father's name is Sananfila Kanji. Ah! He'll be invincible!" Didn't you hear the learned holyman's words? "Call out to Bari the Omen Reader, 216 That he help me in this child affair." 1130 Ah! Namu-sayers! Bari the Omen Reader came forward. The Imam's wife, his~ Sanmkeren, She had just given birth to Sarakeren Mori. They spoke to Bari the Omen Reader, 1135 "Go look for some game, Bari. Go looking for some meat for the sauce, And come give it to the new mother." "I really need some meat from the bush." Bari the Omen Reader went off into the bush, Allah. 1140 The learned holyman will prepare a plot in Bari's absence. Ahl Treachery is not good! Treachery always ends up on its author. When the well gets old, Its frame no longer sees the light ofday. 1145 It has fallen down into the well. Ah! Namu-sayers! Haven't you heard what the holyman said? He said to sacrifice a black cow to the child, And sacrifice a white kola to the child, 1150 And close the door of the hut on the black cow, And close it on the white kola. 217 "When Bari returns from hunting game, If he can tell about the cow, And should he tell about the kola, 1155 I will withdraw from the child affair. Just give me my payment. I've really done all I can." Ahl Since the very beginning ofthe world, The holyman and treachery have never been far apart. 1160 There is no end to the holyman 's wants. Ahl Namu-sayersl Almighty Allah may refose to do something, But Allah is not powerless before anything. Death is not hard but for "Who-are-my-heirs?" 1165 Won't the birth ofthe child talr8 place? Namu-sayers! Intelligence is a thing hard to come by. Bari the Omen Reader has come! Bari returned from the hunt. 1170 Bari had killed an antelope buck. He killed the antelope buck, And brought the buck antelope back And gave it to the Imam. "I really missed on this antelope!" 218 1175 And it was given to the new mother. Ah! Namu-sayers! The brave sat down and gave Bari of the Omens his blessing. He said, ''Master, I salute you! I salute you for your hardships! 1180 The Fresh-Heart Cutter and the Fresh-Liver Cutter! Killer of the Ruthless and Killer of the Hardy! Cracker of Green Heads and Gouger of Green Eyes! Eater of Cold Meals and Drinker of Cool Water! Man, your mother gave birth to a vicious horned viper, Allah. 1185 Ah! Such is the work ofAllah! Man, Look to Sac/co for the thing not easy for all! A name is bought, it is not to be forced Ah! The harp-playing bird ofKabaya has come. Praising a man is not pleasing to his enemy. 1190 Every day talk improves a man more than every day argument. The hero is only welcome on trouble days. Since the world was created Braves have been born only one at a time. A name is bought; it is not to be forced 219 1195 The white man in hiding is up to no good The horned viper in hiding never tires ofstriking. Ah! Bari the Omen Reader! The holyman has stacked up an evil plot in Bari's absence. He said, ''The thing that the hut door is closed upon, 1200 If you strive and strive, And tell the name of the thing in the hut," He said, ''Let them give you the money for the child affair, I'll be off for home," ''Namusa. 1205 Naburuma The great dust The hidden kola Kola and a black thing Jitumu Balaba 1210 Jitumu Mansa Nonkoforokoro Twenty-four kaladen Kaladen twenty-four!" He dipped his hand into the dust. 1215 "Don't you see kumad.ise has come out? Don't you see that maromaro has come? 220 Don't you see nsorosigi has come? Aha! Kate has now come out! Jibidise has just come out!" 1220 Namu-sayers! The omen became yeremine, Allah! "Ah! It's like a stomach. It looks like a young boy's stomach." Ah! And thus the brave spoke out. 1225 He said, ''Toure ni Manjun!" "Yes," the reply. ''The thing that the door is closed on, It seems to be very black." 1bat was the voice of the first year of the omen. A person doesn't swear on that 1230 He then gave out the voice ofthe second year ofthe omen. "The thing that the door is closed on, Is a four-legged thing. A very, very pitch black thing, And one white round thing, 1235 That is underneath its foot" Once again he dipped his hand into the dust And stirred it around. And the omen said, "Bari the Omen Reader! The thing that is in the house, 221 1240 Tell it to the Imam, It's a black cow. There is a white kola beneath it." Namu-sayers! Now the pressure was put on the learned holyman. 1245 He transformed himself into a black cat, And went to enter the hut through the eaves, And broke the kola, Splitting it into two halves. Ah! Now the affair became offensive to Allah! 1250 Treachecy will always end up on its author. Allah does not like the plotter. Ah! Nam.u-sayers! The holyman was there in a little hut He was like a small and deadly thing, Kambili Sananfila 1255 Ah! Bari of the Omens, Allah wrote a holy water message, And gave it to Gabriel. He came and put it on one kola half. The holy water was put on one kola half. One became a white male cowbird. 1260 One became a white female cowbird. Bari of the Omens called out, "Open up the door of the hut!" 222 When they opened up the door of the hut, The black cow sprang out; the two cowbirds sprang out. 1265 From that day to this, black cows and cowbirds are never apart. And because of the sacrifice, Whenever Kambili 's birthday approaches, You will see the white kola water on the cowbird's back at the Seventh month. 1270 Mother Dugo the Owl, it's an eternal thing! They called the learned holyman. "Ah! Learned holyman, come to us. That which you spoke to Bari of the Omens about, Well Bari has told about the black cow. 1275 Bari has told about the white kola Bari has told about the things inside." The Imam continued, "You tried an evil treachery, And changed yourself into a black cat, And entered the hut through the eaves. 1280 You split the little white kola. Bari of the Omens saw all that. Allah entered into the matter And had holy water put on the kola halves, 223 Making one a white male cowbird, 1285 And making the other a white female cowbird. Such was not the holyman's intention." Ahf The teamed holyman came forward, And they addressed Bari the Omen Reader. "Your plotter has come. 1290 Your toe-stubbing stone has come. The author of that evil plot has come. How shall we treat him then?" And the holyman said: Bismilai 1295 Arahamani Arahimi Tahiyatulai Jakiyatulai Salam.uralen 1300 Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble MayAllahsavemefromBari! Ah! Namu-sayers! Bari of the Omens broke out laughing. He said, "If you should see something new 1305 In the hands of the village miser, It's a matter of'All are not the same.' 224 Let him go! Let the old hound go. Let the old ass go. 1310 Don't take anything from him. If you should kill an unreasonable man, You have not killed a good man, But you will still have other problems because of it. He will carry his evil burden to Last Judgement. 1315 Let this old hound loose," Ah! The holymanran off full tilt, crying, "Ow, Ow, Ow!" And threw himself into his hut, Giving thanks to Allah the King. Bari was back in the woman affair. 1320 The child affair remained with Bari. The holyman was out of the child affair. Ah! Namu-sayers! Yes, Bari was the king of Omens in the Wasulu. Now here is a man of very reddish hue. 1325 He was neither a sorcerer or a worthless man. I speak ofNumisa the Red. Ah! The wearer of long pants spoke out, Saying, "Ah! Namu-sayers! 225 Words are more beautiful from the father's mouth than the uncle's 1330 Toure ni Manjun, I do not tell lies to you! Have a long robe sewn And have sleeves put on it of twelve strips of cloth. It should be a Fula's treachery robe. When they have sewn the robe, Toure, 1335 They should dip it in red dye, Toure. They should darken it with clay. They should give it to the Fula man. I'm going to put my talents into action, So that Kanji will have a child." 1340 Ah! Namu-sayers! They sewed the robe And gave it to Bari of the Omens. Ah! Namu-sayers! And what instructions did Bari give to the wives? 1345 He said, "You women, here is where you are. Before the end of this month, Up to the fifteenth day of the next month, No one should stick their head into Kanji's sleeping hut. Should you put your head in there. 1350 The Komo' s pot will get you, 226 And swell up your body. You will get stuck in the door of the hut. Head lice will cover you. Body lice will cover you. 1355 They will rustle in all your hair. They will make your underarm hair rustle. And go twist and turn the hairs of your crotch. Don't dare go near that pot!" Aht That really bothered the women, no lie. 1360 And the women said, "What sort of a pot is this?" Bari replied, "No pot of mine can be explained." Ah! Namu-sayers! The old brave was using his talents to hide the woman. When the women had finished eating their afternoon meal, 1365 None ofthem was thinking about entering their man's hut. Each went back to her hut And slammed the door, bang!' "Wait a minute, Mother, let me it. I'm never ever going to mix in man's secrets 1370 So that the people won't destroy my life." "Ah! Ignorant brave, don't ever let the dawn catch you, So that the people won't kill the woman on me." When the cock would crow, "Kekereke! Who has needs?" 227 Couldn't you hear Bari of the Omens say, "Me!" 1375 The old brave would run on tiptoe,jen,jen,jen, And stop by the gate of the goat pen And stop by the husband's door. "Won't you bring that child out, So I can bring her back to her old place, 1380 So that the old hags don't try to wrong this people's child?" He went and brought her back to the goat pen each time, He would then run tiptoeing And go throw himself into his sleeping hut As if he had done nothing. 1385 Ahl Namu-sayerst Kanji thus spent a month, Together with Bari or the Omens, Taking the woman in and taking the woman out, The favored wife sat down 1390 And analysed the situation. "Ohl The pot business has made me sick!" She sprang up quickly, buttocks like a bush hut roof, Her great belly looked like a Moorish drum. The incorrigible's head was flat like a Mande drum, 1395 Her mouth, like a Mande tobacco box. 228 She sprang up with her great belly rolls, Galump, galump, galump, And went and seized the birth pot, And smashed it in the middle of the compound. 1400 "Ah! This pot business has really made me sick! Whether the pot bas any value or not, If Allah is to give Kanji a child, Kanji will have a child. I'm sick ofBari's pot business!" 1405 This was not at all pleasing to Bari of the Omens! Didn't you hear what that bitch said? She said that there was nothing in the pot, Besides worthless nere bark. Therefore it was a treachery pot 1410 "Ah! Namu-sayers! By that time, the despised wife bad become pregnant Bari said, "You favored wife, man, You have done wrong, You have broken the birth pot. 1415 If you don't bring out a white kola And sacrifice it to my birth pot .... Ah! Favored wife, you will swell up, You will stick in the door of the hut 229 And there you will become a corpse. 1420 Body lice will cover you. Head lice will cover you. They will rustle all your hair, And rustle the hair under your anns, And twist and turn the hair of your crotch 1425 If you refuse the kola. Ah! The favored wife ran off And brought one white kola And came and gave it to Bari of the Omens. She said: "Bari, make a sacrifice to your worthless pot 1430 I'm going to sleep with my man today, Bari. Allah in his great majesty, Bari, He will make me the chosen one." Ah! Namu-sayers! Words are more beautifulfrom the father's mouth than the uncle's. 1435 From the child who has circumcised his father, It is useless for the uncle to hide his sex. It is better to hear the despicable out than to say "mine is home." ''Have you finished nosing around the pot business?" The favored wife sat down and thought. 230 1440 She said, "Ah! Ah! I'm going to go out to the goat pen, So that nothing comes unexpected." She ran off at a trot And went to go out to the goat pen, 1445 And stopped at the gate of the goat pen. She exclaimed, "Ah! So it's Dugo the Red, Allah! It's the despised one!" And she pouted out her lips. She went back and stood before the hunter. 1450 She said, "Bari of the Omens! Tell the Imam! Tell Kanji! Tell them that the despised wife is pregnant She's been made pregnant by the ram! 1455 If it doesn't come out a goat child, Toure, I'll sweep your courtyard with my rear end, And throw out all the garbage." Ah! Namu-sayers! She said all there was to be said. 1460 That's better than saying nothing at all. Ah! To each slave his reason for coming, To each slave his reason for awakening! 231 The omen for staying here is not good. Ah! Namu-sayers! 1465 Ahl The child affair has started to heat up! The favored wife said, "If he doesn't come out a goat child, I'll sweep the courtyard with my buttocks." A little old lady came forward, gwiligigwologo, And, like a liar who has missed the market, 1470 Said that she went and saw the despised wife there. Ah, Toure ni Manjun," she said I saw it myself. The ram mounted her before my very eyes. If he doesn't become a goat child, 1475 You can trim a bit off my height." The little old woman was setting up an evil plot Ah! Namu-sayers! The favored wife went on to the market, And went and bought some rice, 1480 And bought some choice meat, And bought some things for the sauce, And came and cooked Kanji some rice in oil. She cooked the rice for Kanji, And cooked the meat till it was done, 232 1485 And put it on the rice in oil, And then who did she give it to? She gave it to Kanji. Ah! The brave ate it all up. When he had filled himself with the rice, 1490 The favored wife let down the mosquito net, And sprayed perfume about the room, And filled the room with incense, Saying that she would become the chosen one. Ahl Namu-sayers! 1495 The favored wife has beaten all the other women out! The favored wife spent the night with Kanji. When the day had lightened, She announced, "Ah! People, I have something to tell you. As for me, I am going to spend the next four nights here." 1500 Kanji said that that would never ever be for the best. "It is better that you come one after another. After all, no one knows who will have this child." She then said, "If I don't spend four nights here, Kanji, 1505 You won't get me out without killing me." And so the favored wife spent four nights with Kanji. After the fourth, in the morning, She took a seeding stone, 233 And took some charcoal and a little oil And crushed the charcoal with the stone, 1510 And poured the oil overit, And rubbed it over her nipples, And puffed out her belly before Kanji, There beside the fire. he exclaimed, ''People, my favored wife is pregnant! "Ah!" 1515 Many thanks, Bari ofthe Omens! The pot that Bari prepared has turned out well. My favored wife has come out ofit pregnant." To this she replied, "I am somewhat sure." Ah! Namu-sayers! 1520 And after nightfall around about midnight Dugo's Kambili would get up and walk about As the dawn was lightening, He would come back And throw himself back down on his mother's mat as if nothing happened 1525 "Mother!" she cried, "Mother!" During the day, here I am Dugo pregnant. During the night, here I am Dugo with empty stomach. I can do no more with this thing inside me, Mother." 234 Ah! It's the female magician who defeats the sorcerer! 1530 Ah! Namu-sayers! Man, words are pretty in their father's mouth more than in their uncle's. The woman magician came with her little knotted string Which she tied around Dugo's waist, man. Kambili did not come out again. 1535 The time for Kambili's birth has arrived! The birth pains took the tall Dugo out at the goat herding place. Dugo ran on foot And called to her Mother. She cried, "Mother, Mother, Mother, Ah! Mother! 1540 My stomach is hurting me. Call the old women, Call the midwife women. Tell them to bring some mats To close off the goat pen from view. 1545 Tell them to lay some on the straw. It's time for me to give birth." Ah! Dugo laid down. She laid down on the mat, to each his destiny. Dugo gave birth to a young boy. 235 1550 The boy resembled his father just like two mushrooms. Ah! Namu-sayers! She called out to the old women. "Come and cut the cord, And arrange all of the other matters for the child." 1555 Whenever a Wasulu child is bo~ The underside of his tongue is treated with an herb. So, they went out and got three grains of the herb And brought out some salt And put it in a mortar. 1560 At this time, the favored wife was wa1king towards the stream. She had just left the path leading to the stream, When she heard the new bom child's cries. The noise made her whole stomach run. The big fat one came huffing up (taliba, taliba). 1565 Her ear remained on the new born child's crying. "Ah! Now the disdain bas fallen on met I have been stricken by a man's totem, And that has ruined the child affair for me. Ah! Kanji, you must pardon me." 1570 It was none but a wise brave's voice: "Every flower on a tree doesn't give fruit; 236 Were it not so, the branch would break. Man, should one man not succeed, then another will. " She went off, her buttocks like the roof of a bush hut, 1575 And went to sit in her sleeping hut, legs crossed. The old women had arranged the child business. There was an old woman there of fine speech, She pounded the herb with one blow of the pestle, And took out the herbs, 1580 And put them under Kambili's tongue. That is the Wasulu people's mouth medicine. Don't you know that a Babbara child's tongue is not so treated. Ah! Namu-sayers! It is the case that the humpback is goodfor hoeing. 1585 To each his reasonfor coming. Namu-sayers! To each has family name! It was Allah who created the art ofhunting. Since the world was begun, man, Kings have always come from the hunters. 1590 No child would be born without the hunter, The hunters are the first to prepare for the child Minkayiru 's job is to give them souls. We all find grace under the wing ofGabriel. 237 The dream ofhis grace is in all people. 1595 The world has now reached the back ofits cave. It's a question ofto each his reason for coming. Ahl Namu-sayersl They arranged the child business and continued on, And went to tell Samori 1600 They said, "Toure ni manjun! Man-Killer King! King of the Sword! King of the Warrior! Kanji's despised wife has given birth to a son. 1605 He resembles Kanji like two mushrooms." Ah! Namu-sayerst What was that? All groups can be broken; However, a killing group cannot be broken. Should you leave it, you will befoul yourself. 1610 Man, ifyou were to do that, A bit would be trimmed offyour height. Master, that is never done. Everyone knew very well about the Man-Killer King. Ah! Toure ni Manjun broke out laughing. 1615 Kanji broke out laughing. He called to the favored wife, 238 ''Favored wife, aren't you going out to the goat pen?" She went dragging her feet, tunyuku, tanyaka, And stopped before the goat pen, 1620 Sticking out her lower lip, You might say like a winnowing tray, And ran back, galump, galump, galump. "Toure ni Manju.n, please pardon me. The child looks like Kanji. 1625 He became a manchild. Then when a ram mounts a woman, The child must come out a manchild" They told the little old woman to go out to the goat pen. The little old woman hobbled along, gwiliki, gwoloko, 1630 Like a liar who missed the market, And stopped at the gate of the goat pen. And she said, "Amazing!" The ram mounted Dugo And it turned out a manchild. 1635 Allah is all powerful." And Samori answered, "There's nothing wrong with that." "Favored wife, why don't you wrap up your skirts, So you can sweep the courtyard with your bottom? 239 I don't want to see a bit of garbage by the time day dawns." 1640 And so she wrapped up her skirts, man. Namu-sayers! Ah! Then jealousy is not good. Evil jealousy. I was being evilly jealous. 1645 I must sweep the yard with my bottom. Evil jealousy. Then evil jealousy is not good. Then the wives' evil jealousy can't succeed. Evil jealousy. 1650 Then evil jealousy is not good. Ah! Come sweep the house, clean it up. Evil jealousy. Then evil jealousy is bad. Ah! Imam, I'll never say a thing like that! 1655 Eviljealousy. Evil jealousy is bad. She swept the yard and skinned her bottom. Evil jealousy. Then evil jealousy is bad. 1660 Ah! Tome ni Manjun, my bottom is skinned. 240 EVil jealousy. Then evil jealousy is bad. Pick up your tail and leave my father's house. Evil jealousy. 1665 Then evil jealousy is bad. Ah! The favored wife got up and left, Her bottom reddened like the hearth of a forge, And called out for her comrades, And leaned down over her bed, 1670 And raised up her great bottom. "For God's sake, bring a fan, And come and fan my bottom. My bottom is blistered and burned!" Ah! Namu-sayers! 1675 They then called the little old woman. She came up to them, gWiligi gwologo ''Toure ni Manjun, before you kill me, Please first full me up right to the top." "You will cat your last meal's millet. 1680 Cook some rice for the old woman. Boil some rice porridge for the old woman. Steam some peanuts for the old woman. Cook some sweet potatoes for the old woman. 241 Cook some cassava for the old WOI118D, 1685 And stir up some milk for the old woman, And saturate the milk with honey. You're going off to Last Judgement, So you won't do evil to my child." The old woman popped in a little of each. 1690 And then she spoke, "Aht Toure ni Manjunt Aliham.udu diyalaye Aribila lamina rm filled up." 1695 He called the executioner, Ah! "Fadama the Bardt Morifinjant Take the little old woman off quickly And leave her at Konke the Sword's place So that she won't cause my army to run 1700 The old woman has no equal as a troublemaker. The old woman has no equal as a master of poison. She must not be allowed to do evil to the child." Ahl Namu-sayersl The old woman's head fell, 1705 Cut off at her throat, Her two shoulders became inseparable friends. 242 Bits of peoples' remains are not good. The old woman had reached her destiny. Allah was not unhappy with Tome. 1710 The grandchild had escaped from her at the right moment. Old grandmother, you won't be fmmd near him! Ah! Namu-sayers! Dugo's Kambili has entered the scene. When the man-seizing man had just begun to walk 171 S Kambili was already fighting with the chickens, Dugo's Kambili was already fighting the ducklings. From one day to the next, there were nothing but warnings. One day, when the morning had dawned, Kanji went out to the harvesting place, 1720 Kanji, mounted on a white stallion, Saying he was going to meet the harvesters. But he'd forgotten his tobacco bag at home Arriving at the edge of the village, He turned and hurried back home. 1725 And as he was hurrying back home The favored wife went to find the despised Dugo. She said, ''Despised Dugo t" "Yes," the reply. "It was the King who told me That I should mash up Kambili, 243 1730 And give him to the horses. Kambili is a child of evil sign." Despised Dugo left herself in the bands of Allah, And took Kambili and gave him to the favored wife. She put him down inside a mortar 1735 And raised the pestle high overhead, Saying she would pound Kambili up. It was then that Kanji arrived. Nothing happens without Allah's will. Ahl Jealousy is evil! 1740 The women's evil jealousy can't succeed. Kanji came, pulling up the reins behind the favored wife. "What kind of thing is that in the mortar, Making a noise like that?" She replied, "I was just playing a game with the little man. 1745 I wasn't doing anything to him." "With the pestle raised up like that, You call it a game?" And he struck with both barrels, Yes, fired both barrels at the favored wife, 1750 Putting on ball right in her ear, Putting the other ball in her chest, Laying the butt to her head, smash! 244 "Ahl Favored wife, pick up your tail, And get out of this child affair. 1755 You have always made me feel dirty!" Namu-sayers! Then he dragged off the favored wife, And threw her off at the edge of town, And threw her into a ditch, 1760 Then called to the despised wife. "Get out of the goat pen, And come take my favored wife's hut." There's no way to say it, It's Allah's work! "Should anyone play with the Kam.bili affair, 1765 I will play with him!" The favored wife thus left the Kambili story, no lie. If you don't fear evil jealousy, you fear nothing. Ah! Mother Dugo the Owl has traveled afar! Ah! Mother Dugo the Owl has traveled afar! 1770 Great-eyed Nightbird ofthe Hunters! Rl-wind ofthe animals! Something in thefields; the baboon is never empty-handed Nothing in the fields; the baboon is never empty-handed Whether or not a man agrees, the baboon will come. 1775 When the white grain corn has flowered, 245 He won't leave without something under his arm; Without something in his mouth. K.ambili the hunter spoke out, "My Father, Kanji, he said: "Yes?" the reply. 1780 "Tell the people of the smiths, To make some young boy's arrows, And, to strike a young boy's bow. The rifle will never be for me. rm going off on a lizard hunt." 1785 He and his comrades went off, Saying they were off on a lizard hunt. Whenever Kambili saw a rabbit, It would end up in his bag. If he was given one look at a rabbit, 1790 It was sure to become a corpse. The rabbit on a leash, skittering from side to side behind Kambili. The rabbit on a leash will never take a straight path. Look to Mother Dugo the Owl for the Big-Eyed Nightbird. Death may reach a man; it doesn't reach his name. 1795 Eating the traditional dish is not an evil deed Words are beautiful from the father's mouth more so than the uncle's. 246 Learning something and doing something are not the same, Kambili. He went out one morning. He and the young boys went off, 1800 Saying they were off to look for lizards. There was a leopard down in the forest. A leopard had given birth down in the forest. Her two babies were down in the forest. He put them both in his bag. 1805 Ah! And then the mother leopard came. She was coming to save her babies. He pulled out his young boy's arrows, And put one into her nose, And put another into her eye. 1810 The beast cried in pain. The beast started to run off. Kambili went on home And took out the spotted beast's babies, And gave them to his true father. 1815 "Father, yourmothercatgave birth in the forest I have taken her two babies." "Ah! Kam.bili, won't you ever stop? These aren't kittens, Kambili. 247 They're the babies of the spotted beast, Kambili. 1820 They're the babies of the leopard." He called out the hunters. They went out after the mother beast. The beast had become a corpse. And they brought the leopard's body back. 1825 And put the two leopard babies in a cage, Kambili. When the sun was up the next morning, He said he was off to the hunting ground, And he went and found a female buffalo He had just given birth to a calf. 1830 And, once again he took the buffalo calf, Tying a rope around it's neck, And, dragging it along behind him, bumpety, bumpety. The buffalo on a leash was behind Kambili, Twisting and turning like that. 1835 He said, "Now that's a scrambling thing!" So then he tied up its limbs, And stuck it in his bag. Its mother ran as if to die, And went off after Dugo' s little child. 1840 He offered her just one arrow, And the buffalo became a corpse. 248 He continued on with the buffalo baby. "Father, your big cow is really furious. She gave birth to this out in the bush. 1845 I have taken her newborn baby. Ah! Father, your big cow is furious. Your big cow is furious. I'm not kidding." He came with the buffalo baby, And gave it to his true father. 1850 It was none but the father's voice. He said, ''Kambili the Hunter! Kambili Sansmfila! Man, you're not old enough yet" He called out to Bari of the Omens, "Bari, You are to watch over my offspring 1855 So that no beast cause him to lose his life. Watch over my little offspring, So that no buffalo cause this angel to wither away." Thus he became Bari's student, Kambili SananfiJa. Kambili's harp-player was Yala the Smith. 1860 Look to the traclcing dogfor the hunting dog. Yala the Smith was brought out to sing his praise. Mother Dugo the Owl, after he was circumsized, Dugo's Kambili and the game were not exactly like twins. There was the buffalo on a leash behind Kambili 249 1865 There was the buffalo calf on a leash behind Kambili. The buffalo was on a leash behind Kambili every day. The dwarf antelope was on a leash in Kambili's hand. He .bad finished killing all the kinds of game in the bush. The only thing left was to catch them alive. 1870 Ah! Namu-sayersf There was a lion falling on the people of Jimini. A lion bad begun to fall on the people of Jimini. Don't you know that slavery is hard? Slavery is not good. 1875 When a slave makes the thirty day fast, He does so for his master. When the slave sacrifices a three year old bull, He does so for his master. Ahl Slavery will never succeed. 1880 No matter how you was the intestines, They will always smell like excrement. The Jimini nobles made a plan. Cekura bad a wife His wife's name was Kumba. 1885 They changed her mind, taking her from Cekura. Ahl They took Cekura's wife from him. And Cekura was a man who could change into a lion! 250 Ah! Namu-sayers! He sent word to all the lion people. 1890 He said, "Lionmen!" "Yes?" the reply. "Let us eat all the people of the village. Let us eat all the cows of the village. Let us eat all the sheep of the village. Let us eat all the dogs of the village. 1895 Let us make this fight for my wife." The slave's wife bad been taken from him. So the fight for his wife wasn't pleasant around Jimini. Don't you know Cekura was deeply offended? And so he sent word to the lionmen. 1900 Whoever went out to defecate, He was made into a toothpick. Whoever was going out to the fields, They turned him into a toothpick. Whoever went to water the garden, 1905 They turned him into a toothpick. And made it hot for the village people. And made it hot for the herds of oows. And heated it up for the flocks of sheep. They really made it hot for the people. 251 1910 Ah! There seemed no end to the bits of people around Jimini. When night bad fallen, Master, As soon as you bad closed the door of your hut, He would pull out his stick-like tail And bang on the door with it, 1915 And do the best of greetings, Kambili. No sooner would you say, "Be welcome," And open the door a crack, Than he would jump in and grab one of you. He would turn him into a toothpick, Kambili Sananfila. 1920 Ah! The Jimini man-eating lion was really playing in Jimini. The lion was going to eat up the whole army. He bad already finished with the water carriers, He bad finished the best of the farmers. he lion had finished with the horsemen. 1925 The lion had finished with the learned holymen. The lion had finished off the king's children. Ah! It was an awful situation in Jimini! The voice of death was in Jimini. Lots of noise was in Jimini. 1930 It's a story about Dugo the Owl, the soul-seizing angel. 252 There was no joy in the Jimini lion business That lion's name was Cekura. His apprentice's name was Faberekoro. Cekura was seizing the people in Jimini. 1935 Faberekoro would finish up their remains. This created a serious problem for Samory, And so he advised the hunters' group. "If you don't apply yourselves, if you don't apply yourselves, I will come to doubt the hunters." 1940 This warning given once, This warning given twice. It was given before the harp-player, Yala the Smith. Yala the Smith took his harp, And went straight to Kambili 1945 The son ofDugo the Owl Bird. The son ofDugo the Night Bird. The doubter doesn't profitfrom his friend, Allah! That is not easy for the harp-player. A hunter~ death is not easyfor the harp-player, Allah. 1950 A hunter dies for the harp-player. A farmer dies for the glutton. The holyman dies for the troubled 253 The Icing dies for his people. To each dead man his funeral song, Kambili. 1955 Ahl And should an old bard die, Call out the hourglass drummer. Call out the iron pipe rhythm man. Call out the jembe drummer. Have them come sing my fUneral song. 1960 To each dead man his funeral song, call Kambili! Ah! And should it come to the old smith, man, And should it come to the old smith, Don't you know that should a smith die, Ahl gone ofmy Wasulu smiths should die, 1965 Ifone ofmy smiths by the forge should die, Ifthe protector ofthe world's stomach were to die, Ifthis man ofthe peoples' hope should die, Call out to the Komo man. Have him bring a brilliant K.omo. 1970 Have him come with a goodjembe drum. Have him come with a true-ringing bell. Have him come with a good rhythm rattle. Have him come sing the fUneral songs, Father. To each dead man his funeral song, K.ambili 's call. 1975 It's a sorrowfUl thing. 254 I am afraid ofthe hunter's death, Kambili. Ah! Namu-sayers! At this time, kolas had been sent out for a wife for Kambili. And what was Kambili's :first wife's name? 1980 Her name was said, Kumba. They tied up ten kolas, And went off to marry the beloved Kumba. And brought her and gave her to Dugo's Kambili. It was the way of doing a marriage. 1985 (Man, pay attention to the rhythm! Don't miss the rhythm whatever you do!) Ah! To each slave his reason for coming. To each his destiny. Putting tradition aside for just one day's pain is not good. 1990 Hot Pepper ofthe Game, Kambilt Sananflla! They have done the wedding dance! Ah! All the holymen are by the mosque, But all of them are not holymen! Master, you filled him with knowledge. 1995 Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (Man, hurry your hand on the harp-strings.) The family name is joy! Master, you filled him with knowledge. 255 Ah! You filled him with sorcery! 2000 Ah! Some are studying at the mosque, But they all don't give birth to saints! Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! All the holymen are by the mosque, 2005 But they all don't know how to read! Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Those without hope in the Koran, Father, The spirits are calling to you. 2010 Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Mother Dugo the Owl! Bird! I play my harp-strings for you. Master, you filled him with knowledge. 2015 Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (Man, I can't hear the sound of the harp. The harp isn't playing!) Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! 2020 Ah! Should you see a man with bad habits, You've seen a man who'll die young. 256 Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! The irreproachable of Balendala, 2025 Well, you've seen a terrible thing! Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Even if you see him naked, He looks like a dangerous thing. 2030 Master, you filled him with knowledge Ah! You filled him with sorcery! All the hunters go off in the bush, But all are not masters of the powder. Master, you filled him with knowledge. 2035 Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (Man, tighten that string! Tighten that string a bit!) Master, You filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! 2040 Don't you all go off to the fields? But all are not champion fanners. Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Of all those who make the pilgrimage, 257 2045 They all don't know what it means. Master, you fill him with knowledge. (Ahl Harpist, you'm slowing down my words!) Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! 2050 Mother Dugo the Owl Bird, You've given birth to a powder masted Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! AhJ It's true that all women give birth, 2055 But all don't give birth to huntersl Master, you filled him with knowledge. Aht You filled him with sorcery! Some women give birth to sons, But all don't give birth to kings. 2060 Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (Hurry your hand on the strings. You make it bard for me to speak.) Master, you filled him with knowledge. 2065 Ahl You filled him with sorcery! Aht Hunter, no matter how you hurry, Man, the hero will get there before you. 25.8 Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! 2070 Mother Dugo the Owl, Soul-Seizing Angel. Ah! Young smiths, I say the beast bas become furious. Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Dugo has given birth to K.ambili! 2075 The man-eating lion has become furious in Jimini Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! It's the call for Mother Dugo the Owl, The Big-Eyed Night Bird! 2080 Master, you filled him with knowledge. Ah! You filled him with sorcery! Ah! Dugo's K.ambili, can't you stop The man-eating lion? Master, you filled him with knowledge. 2085 Ah! You filled him with sorcery! (Ah! Rhythm man, rhythm man! Slow down a little!) Speaking is not easy; not being able to speak is not easy. I'm doing something I've learned, 2090 I'm not doing something I was born for. 259 They had thus finished the wedding procession. The wedding speeches bad been given, Allah! When the message bad been given to Kambili, It was none but the hunter Kambili's voice: 2095 "This man-eating lion, Allah! If the man-eating lion is going to die, (Pay attention to the rhythm.) Ahl If the man-eating lion is going to die in Jimini, The lion is going to die with one shot in J"uninil" 2100 A.h! The dancers ofthe war dance have decreased The dancer ofthe warrior's dance has gone to rest Soloba Jantumanin has gone to Last Judgement. No reason was given for the powderman 's going to rest. Soloba Jantumanin has gone to Allah. 2105 The bullet master has gone baclcfor sure. The darlcness of Last Judgement is never empty of strangers. It's the call for Dugo the Owl, Kambili Santmjila. Greet the tracking dog as the hunting dog. Loolc to the chair for seizing all the smells. 2110 A. sandal that's stepped in dung leaves its bits behind Loolc to the catfor the wild hunting cat. They finished with the wedding ceremony. 260 Toure ni Manjun came out. He came out with ten red kolas, 2115 And went to give them to Kanji. He said, "Kanji!" "Yes,U he answered. "Go tell the hunters in Jimini, If the man-eating lion doesn't die in Jimini, The vulture will settle on the hunters' children." 2120 Ah! The totem of the Man-Killer King is not broken! "If the Jimini man-eating lion doesn't die, The vulture will finish eating the children; The beast will finish all the good children; The beast will finish up all the grass cutters; 2125 The beast has finished up the horsemen; The beast has finished up all the wood gatherers; The beast has finished up all the great farmers; The beast has gone through all the good children. Don't you see there's not even a way to get to the market? 2130 The beast has finished eating all the market people. Don't you know that this powder business has heated up? The Jimini battle was no pleasure, Kambili SananfiJa. Greet the tracking dog as the hunting dog. Greet the chair for seizing all the smells. 2135 Look to the drying sun for the sun ofthe midday meal. 261 Greet the loincloth as breeze-catching cloth. The man's totem 18 not the loincloth. Neither is the women's totem the loirlcloth. The loincloth has become nothing but breeze-catching cloth. 2140 Look to the undryable for the unburnable. Mother Dugo, it's the call for early death in the Terende bush. The brave seated. a dangerous thing. The brave standing, a dangerous thing. A smDII deadly thing burned up wouldn't.fill a hom 2145 Although the great snake may like to coil, He can't be used as a head coil. Who has ever seen a snake as a head coil? It's the callfor the Hot Pepper ofthe Game. It's the call for the Hot Pepper ofthe Beast 2150 Buffalo fighting is not easy for the coward B&fffalo fighting is not easy for the trembler. The voice ofthe wild dog ofthe plain, "Arise andfight/" The wild dog~ voice in the plain, "To the attack!" Great stallion ofthe plain without saddle. 2155 His belly, great; it's not.from begging. 262 His mouth, white; but his mouth hasn't dipped in the worthless one's mother's flour. His tail is close to the ground; the worthless one's hand won't get it. His ear, great; it wiU never be the worthless one's mother's scoop. J(y hand is now in my traditional thing; 2160 Kabaya Sedou 's hand is now in his traditional thing, no lie. A man dies for his sharer ofsecrets, Father. A man dies for his sharer of hopes, Allah. A man dies for his sharer ofwealth, Man. .A man dies for his sharer ofsecrets, no lie. 2165 Kanji took his harpstrings there. Kanji took his harpstrings to Jimini, And presented himself to Dugo's son. He said, "Dugo's Kambili! The king brought out the man-killing kolas, 2170 Saying to give them to my men, To give them to my hunters group, Saying, if the Jimini man-eating lion doesn't die, Come Thursday next, The vulture will descend on the hunters, Kambili." 2175 Ah! The speech was bad! 263 Ah! I'm afraid of the widow's headband, Kambili. I'm aftaid of one blast ofthe whistle, Kambili. I'm aftaid of one blast of the whistle, Kambili. I'm afraid of cold tears, Kambili. 2180 "Ah! It'snotaJie!" saidKumba "' don't ever want to become a widow! Allah! There is no one to inherit me, father. I don't want to get mixed up in it. Ah! Do your best, Kambili, do your best! Do your best!" 2185 Born for a reason and learning are not the same. Putting tradition aside for one day's pain is not good. Hot pepper ofthe Gamel The brave sat down and thought. He said, "Kumba! Beloved Kumba!" "Yes?" she replied. 2190 She said, "Kambili the Hunter, K.ambili Sammfilal The man-eating lion is going to die in Jimini. I will go to the hair-dressing place at my namesake's house. With Cekura's mother, Marama. I was the loving wife of Cekura in Jimini. 2195 I grew up by the side of his robe in Jimini. The wife of Cekura's host instructed me. I know Cekura himself. 264 ~1, No other is seizing the people, If it's not Cekura." 2200 And so dley.called Bari the Omen Reader. Bari began to read the omens. "Namusa Naburuma Woro dogolen 2205 Woro faransan Jitumu Mansa Nonkon Forokoro FilaniFabu Kenken Mamuru 2210 Jonyayiriba Twenty four parts of the bow. This is sigi. This is maromaro This is karalan. 2215 This bas become teremise. This bas become Regret, Another Regret. This nsorosigi. This yeremine. 2220 This has become karalan. 265 Ahl The omen bas become maromaro, Man. The onien has become a longbow omen. The earth..shaking reason bas come out. Bring me a headhair, 2225 Yes, bring a hair of the lion's head, And bring some hair from under his arm, And bring some hair from his crotch. And bring the sandal o:ffhis foot, And bring a pair of his old pants, 2230 And lay them on the omen board. When we find a means to the man-eating lion, Should we do that, the man-eating lion will die." (Sleep bas made your eyes heavy! Pay attention to the rhythm.) The debt of Last Judgement is never forgotten for the living. 2235 A. slave spends a late evening. The slave doesn't stay long among you. The o111enjor staying here is not easy on things with souls. A. name is a thing to be bought; a name is not to be forced MY hand is dipped in my habitual thing, 2240 The thing is not for all! Ahl It was none but Kumba's voice. 266 "Kambili the Hunter," she said, "Kambili Sananfila! I will go have my hair done at Mamma's place. I will never betray you." 2245 She took ten kolas, And came with the ten white kolas, And put them in a little calabash, And brought out greeting gi~ And put them in the little white calabash. 2250 "I'm doing this for my husband, Kambili. Please forgive me, Kambili. I'm going after the hair of his head, Kambili. I'm going after the underarm hair, Kambili. I'm going after the sandal, Kambili. 2255 I'm going after the old pants, Kambili. • That done, the man-eating lion will die, Kambili." Ifyou are not afraid offemales, Master, Ifyou are not afraid offemales, You're not qfraid ofanything. 2260 The woman's hand bows how to strike a man's desires in any case. Beloved Kumba went off to meet Cekura, And entered Cekura's place at about two o'clock. She called, "Cekura!" "Yes," the reply. 267 "I have come to the hair-dressing place." 2265 Don't you know this made Cekura happy. It was none but the maneating lion's voice. He said, "The hunters are going to kill you this time, And I, Cekura, will cry. Ah! Little hypocrite, didn't I tell you, 2270 Marrying a hunter will never succeed? A hunter is nothing! When a hunter enters the bush, He may spend a whole week. He has no need for his wife. 2275 When a hunter sees some antelope, He has seen the game he will kill ... It's a case ofbeingjealous of the game. He has no concern for having children, Allah!" This put Kumba in a difficult situation, beloved Kumba. 2280 Kumba responded, saying, "So it is. You've just said my reason for coming. Cekura, that's my reason for coming. I'm no longer in this hunter's marriage. I'm fed up with this hunter business. 2285 He and his shoulder talismans ... The hunter and his side talismans are never apart, 268 Saying you shouldn't touch the hunter's bag; woman's taboo talisman is inside it Don't put yom hand on his shirt; 2290 A woman's taboo talisman is on it. When he has gone off to the bush, He can come back and spend three nights, Without touching his wife, He has then no desire for his woman." 2295 She continued, "Cekura!" "Yes?" "There's just one thing about what I've said ... I beg you That you hurry up this affair between us So that I can go back soon. 2300 Kambili's :funeral, I don't want to miss it" And he called out, "Marama, Kumba is here to have her hair done. He went and bought some grains of rice, And went and bought some white chickens, And went and bought ten white kolas, 2305 And came and gave them to my Kumba. He has some rice prepared, And had those chickens' meat cooked up, And went and pomed out some milk, 269 ADd saturated the fresh milk with honey, 2310 And gave it to the beloved Kumba. "K.UIIIba, don't you see this drinking wamr? As for me, I'm well offthese days, beloved Kumba. I don't really need any ofthis. But me, I'm apiust these people, for vengeance." 2315 When night bad &lien, As soon as they bad finished eating, They lay down together. He put his leg ove Kumba, And she said, "Oet your hind leg off of me!" 2320 He laid his hand on her, And she said, "Oet your claws off of mel" Ahl Cekura was in a hurry. "I have found the way, The way to destroy Kambili. 2325 Those nights between Kambili and me, I can count them. They don't go beyond ten nights. None ofthem ever accomplished anything beyond hunting game, Charging off to game-hunting. 2330 I have no desire to be married to a hunter. 270 If you give me an old pair of pants, They'll be used as a means to get Kambili. Bring me some hair off your head, We'll find a means to get Kambili today. 2335 Bring me some hair from under your arm, And give some from your crotch, And take off your old sandals ... Take the sandals off your feet. We'll use them as a means to get the rugged one, Master. 2340 When all that's done, he'll become a corpse. And I will begin marriage to Cekura once more. Ah! Take up the weapon! Don't you &it. Do not hesitate!" Words are like the writing of a holyman; 2345 They don't suit the heart ofevery young man. Speech is something to be learned in every day of this world Intelligence has become a thing hard to get, Master. Look to Mother Dugo 's ogre for that which scares the children. Cekura gave some of the hair offhis head, 2350 And gave the hair from under his ann, And gave some hair from his crotch, 271 And gave the old pair of pants, And gave the sandals off his feet, And went and took an ol~ 2355 used hat,, And put it all in one calabash, An old cloth, wrapped around it for good. "After that, there is only me." She sai~ "Cekura, oh, Cekura, My hair has been dre~ 2360 I'm going right off with these means, So that no one does it before me. As soon as the hunter is killed, I will come and marry Cekura. There is no other person I want in this worl~ 2365 If it is not to be Cekura." These words were sweet to the old hyena's ears. He hunched back his shoulders. He tried to hold back his joy. He gave a little laugh. 2370 He sai~ "Don't betray me, He sai~ "Don't betray me between this world and Last Judgement." And she repli~ "I would never betray you in this world." Kumba brought back the things for her means, 272 And came to give them to Bari of the Omens. 2375 He laid them in the omen dust, And made an offering to the omen, An Earth-shaking Reason sacrifice, And went to bury it in the old market in Jimini, By the old nere-1ree there. 2380 Ah! Mother Dugo the Owl, Kambili took the occult black powder ofNyaji. Kambili had become an adept, old hunter. Kambili took out a kola of red hue, And took out a white pullet, 2385 And went to sit at the crossroads. ''If we are to go towards the east, Nyaji, For me to kill the man-eating lion, Nyaji, Tmn the kolas face to the ground." The two halves turned face up. 23.90 ''If we are to go to the south, Ny•i, For me to kill the man-eating lion, Nyaji, Tum the two kola halves face to the sky." The two kola halves turned face to the ground. "If we are to go to the west, N~i, 2395 For me to kill the man-eating lion, Nyaji, Tum the two kola halves face to the sky." 273 The two kola halves turned face to the ground. "Should we go to the north, Nyaji, For me to kill the man-eating lion, Nyaji? 2400 Tum the two kolas face to the sky." The two kola halves turned face to the ground. "Should I sit in the old market, Nyaji, To kill the Jimini man-eating lion, Nyaji? Have to kolas turn face to the ground." 2405 And the two kola halves turned face to the ground. Look to the talisman's Angel ofDeath for that not easyfor all. The praise for Tears ofthe Game. No man becomes a hunter ifhe has no good talismans. You don't become a hunter ifyou have no knowledge ofthe occult. 2410 Nothing is pleasing to a man without a reason. Nothing is displeasing to a man without a reason. Ah! It's a question ofreason, Kambili. He went off also with a hamac. He went off with the hamac for his blind, 2415 And went to tie it to the nere-tree in Jimini, At the outskirts of Jimini town, And lay down in the old market. 274 He was seated on the thing Kumba had brought, And then made a single trip, 2420 Coming to speak with Toure. He said, ''Toure ni Mm\jun, Won't you give me a young boy, For me to tie to the nere-tree before the lion, For me to tie before the man-eating lion?" 2425 So they came with a young boy. The boy was coming from the cattle pasture. He called out to the young boy, Who was blowing a flute like so: Victorious bull, bellow!· 2430 Stop and hold up your head. Victorious bull, bellow! Stop and hold up your head Victorious bull, bellow! Stop and raise your head on high. 2435 He called, "Hey, young boy, flute-player, Come over here. I'm calling you. Put aside singing about victorious bulls, And come arrange something else first" And what did the young boy say/ 2440 "Ah! Toure ni Manjun, didn't you think about it?" 275 He said, "Ifl am taken from the pasture, for Allah's sake, The cows will eat someone's millet because of me. The cows will destroy someone else's property because of me. What has put you against me this time, Toure ni Manjun? 2445 You have killed my father, And killed my older brother And killed my very mother, And you gave me to her co-wives. I have become a lifeless child. 2450 What are you thinking o( Toure? What have you got in mind now?" And his stepmother cried out from the house: Ah! I have no child. Oh! I have no child. 2455 Ah! I have no child, Imam. I have no child. Ah! Oh! I have no child. Oh! I have no other child. You say to tie him before the beast, hnam. 2460 You say to tie him before the man-eating lion. Ah! Oh! I have no child. Ohl I have no other child. 276 Ahl Have mercy on me, Toure ni Manjun. Have mercy on me, Allah! 2465 To tie a person up before the beast today, Even his real mother is afraid. Ah! Oh! I have no child. Oh! I have no other child. "Get your butt out of here and go sit before the beast! 2470 A little fish is put on the hook, In order to catch a bigger fish. Put the rope around the young boy's neck now!" And he was taken and tied to the nere-tree. Kumba tied up an amulet, 2475 And put it in her talisman hom In the black amulet powder. And went to give it to the young boy. "Young man, take this amulet" Fear took hold of the young boy. 2480 A fly came and sat on the young boy's head. It said, "Young boy, don't be afraid. Nothing will happen to you." It was Sansinba, She was called the Mother of Hunters. 2485 "Should the man-eating lion come, 277 I will give you four baobab seeds; He will never ever reach you." Kumba spoke to her husband, "Kambili the Hunter, Kambili Sananfila, 2490 Oo and sit in your hamac. I am going to look for Cekura. Ah! The beloved Kumba traveled and traveled, And went to the outskirts of Jimini, And went to call Cekura. 2495 Cekura was in the bush. There was a little old careless lady, Who said she would go pick plants for the sauce. It was none but her grandchild's voice, Saying, ''Grandmother, please don't go." 2500 ''The lion man, I am his old guardian." ''The lion bas gone through the old women. If you go out to pick the leaves, If you are not capable of a great act, You will be in a soul-losing act, there's little doubt. 2505 Everyone is afraid ofCekura." The old woman went to pick the leaves, And was leaning over, picking the leaves. Coming back from the meeting with someone, 278 He grabbed her by the jaw, 2510 Surprising the little old woman, And broke her into two pieces, Giving one to Faberekoro, Grabbing the other by the bottom, Making her his toothpick. 2515 Ah! The little old woman was the last meal he would make of people. Dugo's child came. And sat in the hamac of the blind. He climbed with his trace-erasing stick, And so climbed up in the nere-tree. 2520 Born for a reason and learning are not the same. A man doesn't become a hunter, Ifhe can't control his fear, The coward doesn't become a hunter, Or become a man ofrenown. 2525 Death may end the man; death doesn't end his name. The omen for staying here is not easy ofthings with souls. A slave spends but a late evening with you; A slave doesn't stay long among you. Look to the rolling stone for the pebble crusher. 2530 Look to the deathless for the sightless. 279 Kambili the Hunter, Kambili Sananfila. Kumba bas gone off with Cekura. Kumba herself was a lionwoman. Cekura was a young lionman. 2535 He followed Kumba, tengwe, tengwe! If a woman is not capable of tricking a man, She will never pass Last Judgement. And she came up with Cekura, And brought him before Kambili. 2540 Kumba, the irreproachable, Kumba was a lionwoman, And could change herself into a wicked homed viper, And she could change herself into a buffalo, And change herself into an owl. 2545 Kumba had no match as a sorceress. Kumba had no match as a snakeperson. Kumba had no match as the spotted beast. Kumba could become an owl, the big-eyed night bird. She brought the man-eating lion, 2550 And stood him before her true husband. It was none but the young boy's voice. "When you see a man-eating lion, You should be afraid. 280 But I'm not afraid of you, Master; 2555 I'm tied up quite well. Aren't you going to seize this young boy? I'm really bothered by these ropes cutting through me." The lion was about to kill the young boy, When he said, "Young boy, you're not alone here. 2560 I'm afraid of this young boy. Ah! Young man, you spoke too well!" He said, "Ah! Young man! You, the well-tied one, I'm not going after you; I have my doubts." 2565 Kambili's Kum.ba said, "What are you afraid of now? There's nothing whatsoever here. So you refuse to take you thing here for nothing." The lion circled around the young boy, And circled around the young boy again, 2570 And went to sit on his haunches, And set his eyes on the young boy. And there was Kambili sleeping! Cekura had a talisman, The name of which was Sleep. 2575 He had fallen asleep, Master. The hunter was sleeping in the tree. 281 And what song then did the young boy sing? Ah! And so he's sleeping! Won'tyou awake? 2580 It's the sleep of solitude. Won't you awake? Ah! It's sleep! Won't you awake? It's the sleep of sitting alone. 2585 Won't you awake? Ah! It's sleep! Won't you awake? It's the sleep of solitude. Won't you awake? 2590 The brave stretched and lay back down again. He said, "Ahl The man-eating lion has come!" Nam.u-sayers! He made his one leg like a fork of the bush, And mad his elbow like a hanger of the bush, 2595 And separated Danger from Imprudence, And fired the packed-down powder at the right time. Ah! The shot went off like an iron dnun, Master. Dust rose up behind the man-eating lion. The bullet traveled straight and true. 282 2600 The young boy was overcome with joy. Jimini heard the sound of the victory shot, That victory sound like a clap of thunder. The dust of their feet like the fog, Coming to lose K.ambili in the dust completely. 2605 Mother Dugo the Owl Bird, we salute you! Dugo's Warrior Bird, we salute you! The Game's True Hunter, we salute you! The lion was dispatched with one shot. The lion was dispatched with one shot 2610 The man-eating lion was dispatched with one shot. Ahl The hunters came, And came and took K.ambili, And put him in between them, And raised him up above them. 2615 "You have taken us from under the execution sword, Kambili. You have rescued the hunters, And saved the farmers, And saved the whole army. May Allah not keep you behind. 2620 May Allah not take the breath from you, Kambili." Don't you know the man-eating lion has died? 283 The lion was dispatched with just one shot. They tied the lion on a pole, And set Kambili up on its back, 2625 And took him before the Imam. He said, 'Vfoure ni Manjun, The young boy who was tied before the lion, He should be my apprentice. The young boy knows how to master his fear." 2630 The young boy's name was Sanson. Sanson was given to Kambili. And what else did the Imam do? He brought out one young girl, And made her a reward for the lion, 2635 And brought out the young boy, And made him a reward for the lion. The Imam spoke out, And spoke to Bari of the Omens, And mounted him on a white stallion. 2640 "Call out to Dugo's Kambili, And mount him on a white stallion, And bring out a double-barreled shotgun, Master, And give it to Dugo's Kambili." It became the master rifle. 284 2645 Whatever was so brought out, Master, It was all given to the little hunters. And he brought out firing caps, One thousand pounds of rice grains, It was the reward for the lion. 2650 There was a whole week of harp-playing in Jimini. They made it a whole week long. Kanji spent the whole week Playing his fiery dance. Yala the Smith spent the whole week 2655 Playing the hunter's harp. Ah! The lion has died. The Jimini man-eating lion has died. A! E! Ah! Here! No slave knows Allah. The lion has died. 2660 Ahl Hey! Ah! Here! No slave knows Allah. The lion has died. Ah! If the Jimini man-eating lion didn't die, The lion would have destroyed all the soldiers. Ah! Hey! Ah! Here! No slave knows Allah. 2665 The lion has died. He has killed the man-eating lion. The lion had gone through the grass-cutters. 285 Ah! Hey! Aht Here! No slave knows Allah. The lion has died. 2670 He cried out, "Ah! Harp players! Can't I say a word to you? Sing a song for Kumba, why don't you?" Ah! Kumba has charm, Kumba of Jimini. Kumba has charm. 2675 The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! You have killed the man-eating lion. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! A woman to surpass all women. Kumba has no match among the women. 2780 The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! She lies beside a hunter brave. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ahl Kumba didn't betray the hunter brave. The lion was left in the dust. 2685 The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! Ah! Kumba the fearless! Ah! Hey! Jimini loves Kumba. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! She lies beside her hunter brave, 2690 The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! 286 Ahl The likes ofKumba have yet to be seen. The likes of Kumba have yet to be seen. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba. The fearless one of the hunters' women. 2695 No red sorcerer can equal Kumba. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! Ahl Woman of the spirits! The gracious, the beautiful Kumba. Ahl The likes ofKumba have yet to be seen. 2700 Dugo's child's Kumba has no equal. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! Kumba was given to the hunter brave. The lion was made to cry in despair. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba. 2705 Ah! The Jimini man-eating lion has been killed. The reason was Kumba. The gracious, the beautiful Kumba, ah! BibHography Armstrong, Karen. A Short History ofMyth. New York: Canongate, 2005. Anene, Joseph and Godfrey, Eds. Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. lbadan: lbadan University Press, 1966. Anene, 1. C. "Peoples of the Windward Coast" Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. lbadan: lbadan University Press, 1966, pp. 234-244. Austen, Ralph A., Ed. In Search ofSunjata: The Mande Oral Epic As Hzstory, Literature, and Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Belcher, Stephen. Epic Traditions ofAfrica. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Biebuyck, Daniel and Mateeme, Kahombe, Eds. The Mwindo Epic. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. Bird, Charles S., Mamadou Koira, and Bourama Soumaouro. The Songs ofSeydou Camara, ''Kambili,"Volume 1. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974. - - . "Heroic Songs of the Mande Hunters." In African Follclore. Richard M. Dorson, Ed. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1972, pp. 275-293. 287 288 Bird, Charles and Ivan Karp, Eds. Explorations in African Systems ofThought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980. Blackburn, Paul. Ed. Poem of the Cid Norman: Oklahoma University Press, 1991. Bowra, C. M. Heroic Poetry. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1952. Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Princeton University Press, 1968. Charry, Eric. Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music ofthe Maninkn and Mandinkn of Western Africa. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000. Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie and fuechukwu Madubuike. Toward the Decolonization ofAfrican Literature. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1983 Conrad, David C. Su,Yata: A West African Epic of the Mande Peoples. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004. Conrad, David C. and Barbara E. Frank, Eds. Status and Identity in West Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. Cope, Trever. Ed. lzibongo-Zula Praise Poems. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1968. Crowder, Micheal. West African Resistance: The Military Response to Colonial Occupation. New York: Afi.icana Publishing Corporation, 1971. Dalby, David, Ed. Language and History in Africa: A Volume of Collected Papers Presented to the London Seminar on Language and History In Africa. London: Frank Cass and Co. Ltd., 1970. 289 Demane, M., and P. B. Sanders. Lithoko-Sotho Praise Poems. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1974. Diabate, Toumani. The Mande Variations. Compact Disc. ~ndo: World Circuit Records, 2008. Dorson, Richard, Ed. African Fol/clore. New York: Anchor, 1972. duBois, Page. Trojan Horses: Saving the Classics from Conservatives. New York: New York University Press, 2001. Duran, Lucy. Jelimusow: The Superwomen of Malian Music: Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature. Graham Furniss and Liz Gunner, Eds. London: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Edwards, Viv and Thomas Sienkewicz. Oral Cultures Past and Present: Rappin 'andHomer. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, Inc. 1990. Finnegan, Ruth. Oral Literature in Africa. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1976. Fischer, Ernst. The Necessity ofArt: A Marxist Approach. Tmns. Anna Bostock. New York: Penguin Books, 1963. Ford, Clyde. The Hero with an African Face: Mythic Wisdom of Traditional Africa. New York: Bantam, 1999. Forde, Daryll and P.M. Kabeny, Eds. West African Kingdoms in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967. Furniss, Graham and Liz Gunner, Eds. Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 290 Gleason, Judith. Ed. Leafand Bone: African Praise-Poems. New York.: Penguin, 1980. Hagin, Peter. The Epic Hero and The Decline of Heroic Poetry. Folcroft, Pennsylvania: Folcroft Library Editions, 1964. Hale, Thomas A. Griots and Griottes: Masters of Words and Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. --,.--.. Scribe, Griot, and Novelist: Narrative Interpreters ofthe Songhay Empire. Gainesville: Florida University Press, 1990. Haley, Alex. Roots. New York: Doubleday, 1976. Harris, Sam. The End ofFaith. New York: Norton, 2005. Heaney, Seamus, Ed. Beowulf. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Hitchens, Christopher. God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve, 2007. Ho:ffinan, Barbara G. Griots At War: Conflict, Conciliation, and Caste in Mande. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Homer. The Odyssey. Albert Cook, Ed. New York: Norton, 1974. Innes, Gordon. Kaabu and Fuladu::. Historical Narratives of the Gambien Maninka. London: Unversity ofLondon, 1974. Johnson, John William and Jeli Fa-Digi Sisoko. Son-Jara: The Mande Epic. Bloomington: Indiana' University Press, 2003. - - -.. Sunjata, Three Mandinka Versions. London: University ofLondon, 1974. Johnson, John William, Thomas Hale and Stephen Belcher. Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. 291 Jordan, A. C. Towards an .African Literature;. The Emergence of Literary Form in Xhosa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. - - . . Tales from Southern .Africa. Berkeley: University of CalifomiaPress, 1978. Kane, Cheik:h Hamidou. Ambiguous .Adventure. Trans. Katherine Woods. New York: Heinemann, 1963. Kunene, Daniel P. Heroic Poetry of the Basotho. University Press, 1971. Oxford Kunene, Mazisi. Emperor Shaka The Great A Zulu Epic. London: Heinemann, 1979. Laye, Camara. The Dark Child. Trans. James Kirkup. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969. Lord, Albert. Singer ofTales. New York: Atheneum Press, 1974. Miller, Christopher L. Theories of .Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology In Africa. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1990. Monteil, Vincent. "The WolofKingdom ofKayor." West African Kingdoms in the Nineteenth Century. Ed. Daryll Forde and P.M. Kaberry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967. pp. 2~81. . Niane, D. T. Sundiata: An Epic ofOld Mali. Trans. G. D. Pickett. Longmans, 1965. O~o, Isidore. "Does the Epic Exist in Africa? Some Formal Considerations." Research in African Literature, Volume 8. No.2. (1977), pp. 174-190. 292 Okpewho, Isidore. The Epic in Africa;, Towards a Poetics ofOral Performance. Columbia University Press, 1979. - - . African Oral Literature: Baclcgrounds, Character, and Continuity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. - - . "African Oral Epics." The Cambridge History ofAfrican and Caribbean Literature, Volume 1. F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi, Eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 98-116. Parry, Adam. Ed. The Making ofHomeric Verse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971. Pointer, Fritz. "In Praise ofK.ambili Sananfila" African Literature Today, 16. Trenton: Africa World Press, 1989. Quint, David. Epic and Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Radine, Paul. African Folktales. Princeton University Press, 1952. Salaam, Nubia Kai Al-Nura. An Investigation of Malinke Historiography: From Sundiata Keita to Almamy Samori Toure. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 2005. Sandars, N. K., Ed. The Epic ofGilgamesh. New York: Penguin, 1977. Scheub, Harold. The Xhosa Ntsomi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975. Scheub, Harold "Oral Narrative Process and The Use of Models." New Literary History. n.d., p. 353. Sisoko, Fa-Digi. The Epic ofSon-Jara: A West African Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. 293 Soyinka, Wole. Myth, Literature and the African World London: Cambridge University Pres~ 1976. Stevnso~ W. Taylor. "Myth and the Crisis of Historical Consciousness." The American Academy ofReligion. Lee W. Gibbs and W. Taylor Stevenson, Eds. Missoula, Montana: University ofMontana Press, 1975. Stoller, Paul. Embodying Colonial Memories: Spirit Possession, Power, and the Hauka In West Africa. New York: Routledge, 1995. Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. New York: Harcourt, 1976. Suso, BambaandBannaKanute. Sunjata: Gambian Versions ofthe Mande Epic. Lucy Duran and Graham Furniss, Eds. London: P~19. Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition. Trans. H. M. Wright Chicago: Aldine, 1965. Index A Achebe, Chinua, 19 Aftican Americans, 29, 33 Atiican Epics, 6-7 Age-Grading System, 123, 139 Aidoo Ama Ata, 19 Akan,69, 79 Alexander the Great, 13, 78 America, 5, 9, 11, 13-15, 29, 33, 52,55 Anene, Joseph, 49 Angelou, Maya, 19 Aphorisms, 6, 20, 83, 87-88, 9397,99-101,114-18,120,122 Arabic, 11, 15, 37 Annab, Ayi Kwei, 19 Armstrong, Karen, 16, 19 Audience, 24, 38, 75, 77, 83, 85, 100, 104, 114, 117, 128, 139, 152 The Avesta, 11 82-83, 85-86, 88, 90-92,.95-96, 99-100, 103-04, 109, 112-13, 117, 120, 132, 138, 141, 14344, 146, 165, 172, 177, 188, 191, 194-95, 201, 214, 241, 253 Battuta, Ibn, 31 Beowulf, Epic of, 10, 78, 84, 130 Bhagavad Gita, 11 Bible, 11, 13 Bird, Charles, 19, 26, 38, 49, 59, 73, 75, 79-80, 82, 100, 109, 127, 138, 144 Bowra, C. M., 4, 46, 70 Breath groups, 70, 88-89 Brown, Godfrey, 49 Buddha, 10, 23 c Camara, Seydou, 21-22, 27, 36, 38, 40-41, 43-44, 47, 52-53, 57-58, 68-70, 75, 78, 82, 87, 92-93, 96-97, 100, 103, 10708,111,114-15,117,122,124, 126-29, 138, 140, 142-43, 147, 152, 155, 160, 163,166, 177 B Baraka Amiri, 19 Bard, 19, 29,40-41,43-45,47,51, 53-54, 61-63, 68-70, 74, 79-80, 295 296 Campbell, Joseph, 3, 8-9, 57, 66 Charry, Eric, 19, 22, 71, 73, 105, 108 Chiasmus, 91,95 Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa, 6, 1920 ChriStian,8, 12-13,15,17-18,49 The Cid, 9, 23 Cope, Trever, 44, 64 Crowder, Michael, 49 D De Gaulle, Charles, 19, 24, 39, 53, 141, 149, 152 Diabate, Sidiki, 73 Diabate, Toumani, 73 Diawara, Mamadou, 29 Diop Cheikh Anta, 19 duBois, Page, 5, 51 Duran, Lucy, 19, 30-31, 34 E Eastman, Charles Alexander, 13 Emecheta, Buchi, 19 Empire, 22, 31, 37, 47, 49, 52, 71, 108, 129, 141 ofGabu, 71 of Ghana, 31, 37, 39, 69, 79 of Mali, 3, 19, 30-32, 34, 37, 39, 41, 58, 68,73-74, 129, 141 ofSegu Tukulor, 47 ofSonghay, 37 Epic(s), 3-7, 9-10, 18-23, 25-27, 34-36, 41-45, 47, 49-53, 57, 59, 61-63, 65, 69-71, 73, 77, 79, 81-84, 91, 93, 96, 99, 103, 105, 108, 111, 113, 116, 120, 122-25, 127,129-31,134, 138, 140-41, 143-47, 150-51, 155, 157-58, 163 Beowulf, 70, 78, 84, 130 Gilgameshi 10, 35-36, 59, 84, 130 Kambili, The Epic of, 3-4, 6, 9, 15-16, 18-21, 23, 25-27, 34, 36, 39, 41, 43-45, 4749, 52-53, 58-69, 73, 75, 77-79, 81-87, 89-90, 9294,96, 99- 101, 105, 10809, 111-13, 115-17, 12232, 134-39, 141-43, 145, 150-53, 155-61, 163, 16567, 170-71, 173, 176, 183, 185, 192, 197, 201-03, 206-07, 214-15, 221, 23334, 242-49, 251-54, 25860, 262-63, 266, 269-70, 272-73,277' 279-280,28283 AIWindo,l8,20,27,53,59,6162, 70, 78, 83, 130-31 Sara,35,216 Shalca, 18, 50-51 297 Silamaka, 129 Sundiata Son Jara Su'fliata, The Epic of, 22, 34, 119, 146 Epithets, 39, 49, 67, 70, 78, 84, . 93, 96-97, 151 Essex, Barbara, 12 Europe, 3-6, 15, 49, 51-52, 69, 177 F Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 148 Finnegan, Ruth, 4 Fischer, Ernest, 23, 41, 53 Ford, Clyde, 7, 10-11, 19, 128, 139 Forde, Daryll, 41 Formulaic, 44, 54, 67, 78, 80-81, 84-85, 92, 97, 106-07, 113, 120, 142-44, 146, 149 G Gabu, Empire o~ 71 Gambia, 33, 41, 71, 116, 126, 139 Ghana, Empire of; 31, 37, 39, 69, 79 Gilgamesh. The Epic of, 10, 3536, 59, 84, 130 Goddess, 13, 59, 130 Greece,10 Griot and Griottes, 7, 18-19, 23, 29-33, 36-38, 41, 54-55, 68, 70-71, 73, 75, 120, 124, 126, 142,146 H Hlgin, Peter, 21 Hale, Thomas, 19, 29, 31-33, 35, 50,55,71, 73,135,156 Haley, Alex, 19,33 Harris, Sam, 10, 17-18 Hawking, Stephen, 14-16 Hero(es), 3, 8, 10-11, 14-15, 2021, 23, 25-26, 35, 40, 43, 4647, 51-53, 57-67, 82, 86, 90, 92-93, 98-101, 105, 108, 11214, 123, 125-31, 134, 136-42, 145, 149, 151-56, 158-59, 166, 172, 174-75, 177, 197, 209, 218,257 Heroic Poetry, 4, 20, 24, 36, 44, 47, 70,78,149,152,154 Hitchens, Christopher, 15-16 Homer, 22, 42, 44, 54, 70 Hunters, 39, 65, 74, 86, 89, 98, 107, 109, 112, 124, 128, 133, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144-45, 148, 156-57, 160, 183, 185, 215, 236, 244, 247, 252, 25657, 260, 262, 267, 276, 282, 284 I The Iliad, 42, 78, 84 Innes, Gordon, 81, 116, 139, 145 298 Islam, 10-11, 22, 32, 49, 63, 8889, 99, 103, 105, 108, 113, 127, 134, 145, 160 Kouy• Mamadou, 7, 19 Krishna, 23 Kunene, Daniel, 19, 24-25, 39, 141, 149-50, 152, 154-155 J Kunene, Mazisi, SO, 52 Janke, Waali, 119-21 Jeli, 37 Jesus, 8-10, 16, 21, 131 Johnson, John, 19, 34, 58, 140 Jordan, A.C., 23, 25-26, 38 L Latin America, S, 15 Laye, Camara, 241 Lord, A. B., 42,81 The Lotus Sutra, 11 K Kabeny, P.M., 41 Kagan, Donald, 51 Kambili, The Epic of, 3-4, 6, 9, 15-16, 18-21, 23, 25-27, 34, 36, 39, 41, 43-45, 47-49, 5253, 58-69, 73, 75, 77-79, 81-87, 89-90, 92-94, 96, 99101, lOS, 108-09,111-13,11517, 122-32, 134-39, 141-43, 145, 150-53, 155-61, 163, 165-67,170-71, 173,176, 183, 185,192,197,201-03,206-07, 214-15, 221, 233-34, 242-49, 25 1-54, 258-60, 262-63, 266, 269-70,272-73, 277,279-280, .282-83 Kendall, Martha, 59 King, Martin Luther Jr., 8 Knight, Roderic, 71 Koran, 11, 15, 86, 94, 174, 197, 255 Kountche, Seyni, 30 M The Mahabharata, 11 Mahfouz, Naguib, 19 Mali, Empire of, 3, 19, 30-32, 34, 37, 39, 41, 58, 68, 73-74, 129, 141 Malinke, 3, 7, 35,37-38, so Mande, 4, 19, 22, 31-32, 34, 37, 41,46,59,71,73,93,104,227 Mandinka, 11, 19, 21, 23, 26-27, 31-32, 39-41, 43, 47, SO, 52-54, 58, 68, 70-71, 73, 79, 81, 85, 88, 103, 105, 108-09, 116, 119, 122-123, 125-27, 134, 137-39, 141-45, 149, 153 Mateene, Kabombo, 131 Miller, Christopher, 55 Mlodinow, Leonard, 15 Mode(s), 8, 19, 54, 77, 80-83, 8586, 90, 94-96, lOS, 116-18, 120, 122, 143-46 Mohammed, I 0, 23, 68 299 Monomyth Monteil, Vinvent, 41 Muslim, 12, 15,17, 18, 64, 75, 89, 105, 145 The Mwindo Epic, 18, 20, 27, 53, 59,61-62,70,78, 83, 130-31 Myth(s), 8, 10-11, 13-17, 23, 31, 41, 44, 45 N Narrative Mode, 81-82,86,94,96, 116-17, 120,144,146 Ndebele, Njabulo, 19 Newton, Huey P., 15 Niane, D.T., 19 Niger, 30, 32, 214 Nigeria, 69, 79 0· The Odyssey, 21, 42, 52, 54 Okpewho, Isidore, 4, 6, 19, 24, 26-27, 41-42, 44, 49, 62-63, 65, 68-69, 77-79, 82-84, 129 Oral Epic, 3-4, 6, 41-42, 44-45, 62, 70, 73, 77, 138, 151 Oral Literature, 4, 24, 26, 42, 84, 122 Oral Tradition, 5, 37, 51, 70-71, 85, 119 Orature, 23-24 The Ozidi Saga, 18 p Paradise, 13, 35 Pany, Milman, 42, 54, 77, 81, 84 Performer/Performance, 24, 30, 34, 38, 42, 45, 53, 58, 68-69, 75,77,80,83-85,94,124,127, 140, 143, 149-51, 155 Person, Yves, 48 Poet, 22, 25-27,29, 32, 36, 38-42, 45, 47, 53-54, 58, 62, 65, 67-69, 83-84, 92-93, 96, 99100, 107, 112-13, 116-18, 126, 128, 133, 136, 139-41, 143, 149-50, 152, 154, 156 Poetry, 4, 20-21, 24, 34, 36, 4142, 44, 47, 52, 54, 59, 62, 70, 78, 81, 91, 124, 129, 149-50, 152,154 Heroic, 4, 20, 24, 36, 44, 47, 70, 78, 149, 152, 154 Praise, 4, 19,31-32,34-35, 39-40, 51, 58, 63, 67, 78-79, 81-84, 88, 100, 103-04, 109, 113-18, 121-23, 132, 134, 137-39, 141-46,148-53,155,157,170, 188,248,273 Poetry, 4, 34, 78, 81, 149-50, 152 Proverb, 78, 81, 84, 145-46, 148 Mode, 81, 145 Singer, 31-32,39,81, 88, 14546, 149 Song,4, 31,34, 81-82,84,100, 103-04, 113-17, 143-44, 146, 157 300 Proverbs, 6, 19-20, 40, 59, 67' 78, 81-84,90,92,94,96,104,106, 116-18, 120-22, 124, 134, 143, 145-46, 148, 156 R Radin, Paul. 23, 25 The Ramayana, 11 Repetition, 67-68,91-92, 96, 113, 149-51 Rites of Passage, 37, 125 s Salaam, Nubia Kai Al-Nura, 4, 6, 16-17, 19, 31, 35-36, 50-51, 105 Samori Toure, 3, 21-23,43,47-51, 53, 59, 65, 68, 79-81, 86, 95, 100-01, 103, 111, 113, 115, 130-31, 143, 159, 178, 182, 189-91, 237-38 Sara, The Epic of, 35,216 Scheub, Harold, 23-24, 67 Segu Tukulor Empire, 47 Senegal, 32, 41, 72 Senegambia, 32,71 Senghor, Leopold, 19 Shaka, The Epic of, 18,50-51 Silamaka, The Epic of, 129 Songhay Empire, 37 Song Mode, 81-82, 95-96, 116-17, 143 Soyinka, Wole, 19 Spiritual Hero, 10-11 Stevenson, W. Taylor, 17 Stone, Merlin, 11-13 Sundiata Son Jara Sunjata, The Epic of, 22, 34, 119, 146 Supernatural, 3, 8, 14-15, 2526, 40, 57, 62-63, 65, 108, 125, 127, 129, 138, 141, 156 T The Tao Te Ch1ng, 11 Tasks, 111, 113 The Torah, 11 Toure Ni Manjun, 49, 170-71, 173, 192,225,231,237, 239, 241, 260,274-76 Traditional, 4, 8, 10, 16-17, 23-26, 38-39, 41-43, 48, 54-55, 62, 64, 69, 74, 81, 83, 85, 87, 89, 99,103-05,108,113,125,13435, 138, 141, 145, 149, 153, 160, 166, 170, 174, 176, 245, 262 The Tripitaka, 11 u Uganda,4 United States, 9, 33 Upanishads, 11 v Vansina, Jan The Vedas, 11 Virgin Birth, 8, 10-11, 16, 128 301 w West Afiica, 13, 18, 29, 32, 37, 48-49,69,80,82,89, 129,138, 154 Western Sudan, 64, 79, 85, 104, 153 y Yoruba, 69, 79 Yugoslav, 70 z Zulu, 11, 50-51 Fritz B. Pointer Fritz H. Pointer is Professor Emeritus in the Deparbnent of English and African American Studies at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. He holds an M.A. in African Languages and Literature from the UniveiSity of WisconsinMadison and an M.A. in African Studies from the University of California-Los Angeles.