Posted by: Dr. Y. | December 6, 2019

Malagasy Tale: Trimobe and the Little Girl

Madagascar conte_Trimobe-12-créatures-légendaires-qui-hantent-Madagascar-1

Trimobe (Source: La Mozeration @Tokikycity, Mada-Actus Info)

A little girl who has been abandoned in the woods by her two evil sisters, meets the monster Trimobe, who tells her, “You will be my daughter, Rafara.” He takes her home, locks her in his den and feeds her with food. His plan is to “eat her when she will be well-fed and plump.”… Days go by.

One night, a small hungry mouse asks Rafara for food. Rafara, listening only to her good heart, gives the mouse food. To thank her, the mouse gives her a staff, a rock, and one egg, while advising her to flee as quickly as possible.


The bird

Rafara runs away. The monster pursues the little girl and quickly catches up to her. Rafara throws her staff while saying, “Dear staff, gift of the mouse, turn into a lake,” and the staff becomes a lake. But Trimobe in a few sips drinks it all. The little girl then throws the rock while saying, “Dear rock, gift of the mouse, turn into a forest,” and instantly the rock turns into a forest. Trimobe, thanks to his powerful and sharp tail, cuts all the trees down. Rafara then throws the egg while saying, “Dear little egg, gift of the mouse, turn into a mountain!” She finds herself at the top of the mountain. The bird Vovondreo who was passing by, agrees to take her with him in exchange for colorful rocks.

Her father welcomes her with joy. He wants to punish the two evil sisters but Rafara, so kind, intercedes on their behalf in front of her father. Rafara grows up to be so beautiful that the king’s son asks for her hand in marriage.

This is a short version of the tale on Contes a Rever, translated to English by Dr. Y.


Riz / Rice

Le chagrin est comme le riz dans le grenier : chaque jour il diminue un peu (proverbe Malgache – Madagascar).

Sorrow is like rice in the attic : every day it diminishes a little (Malagasy proverb – Madagascar).

Posted by: Dr. Y. | December 2, 2019

‘Antsa’ by Jacques Rabemananjara


Jacques Rabemananjara (Project for Innovative Poetry – PIP)

Today, we will join the poet Jacques Rabemananjara in singing the praises of the Great Island… you know the one and only, Madagascar! Published in 1956 in Présence Africaine, Antsa is an ode to the Great island, a love song to Rabemananjara’s land of birth, Madagascar. Jacques Rabemananjara, like Léon Gontran Damas, was also part of the Negritude movement in France; he was said to be the most prolific writer of the negritude generation after Léopold Sédar Senghor, and he had the first négritude poetry published. He was a Malagasy politician, playwright and poet, who served as a government minister,  and later rose to the rank of Vice President of Madagascar under Philibert Tsiranana. He was one of the heroes of the Malagasy independence.




As you read Antsa, enjoy the island of syllables of flame, feel the love, the sweetness sweeter than honey, the patriotism expressed like the most ardent lover, the most faithful, feel the oneness with the homeland as no owl’s cry or burning could disturb the love the author feels for his motherland. Enjoy it, and try expressing it for the land of your birth… not the people… the land and its beauty!


Antsa par Jacques Rabemananjara


Ile !

Ile aux syllabes de flammes !

Jamais ton nom

Ne  fut plus cher à mon âme !


Ne fut plus doux à mon cœur !

Ile aux syllabes de flamme,

Madagascar !


Quelle résonnance !

Les  mots

fondent dans ma bouche :

Le miel des claires saisons

Dans le mystère de tes sylves,

Madagascar !


Je mords la chair vierge et rouge

Avec l’âpre ferveur

Du mourant aux dents de lumière

Madagascar !


Un viatique d’innocence

dans mes entrailles d’affamé,

Je m’allongerai sur ton sein avec la fouge

du plus ardent de tes amants,

du plus fidèle,

Madagascar !


Qu’importent le hululement des chouettes

le vol rasant et bas

des hiboux apeurés sous le faîtage

de la maison incendiée !oh, les renards,

qu’ils lèchent

leur peau puante du sang des poussins, du sang auréolé des flamants-roses !

Nous autres, les hallucinés de l’azur,

nous scrutons  éperdument tout l’infini de bleu de la nue,

Madagascar !


Antsa by Jacques Rabemananjara



Island with syllables of flames!

Never your name

Was so dear to my soul!


So sweet to my heart!

Island with syllables of flames,



Such resonance!

The words

Melt in my mouth:

The honey of clear seasons

In the mystery of your forests,



I bite the virgin and red flesh

With the bitter fervor

Of the dying with bright teeth



A viaticum of innocence

In my guts filled with hunger,

I will lie on your breast with the passion

Of the most ardent of your lovers,

Of the most faithful,



No matter how much the owls hoot,

The low flying and frightened owls under ridge

Or the burning house! Oh the foxes,

May they lick

Their pungent skin from the chicks’ blood, the haloed blood of pink flamingoes!

We, the hallucinated of the azure,

We madly scour the infinite of the blue from the clouds




Antsa, 1956, Présence Africaine


Omar Tall

Mural in Dakar showing Omar Tall (Source: Wikipedia)

At first I was thrilled by the news that France had returned the sword of the Senegalese hero Omar Tall, … until I read the fine prints! Then I read that this was a temporary return, more like a 5-year loan to Senegal, until the French parliament approves whether to permanently return it or not. Moreover, the sword was already on loan at a Museum in Senegal. Nevertheless, you will notice like me that the media titled it a ‘return.‘ In reality, this is more like a publicity campaign for the French who seemingly appear to be returning looted treasures.

Before delving into the excerpt below from the BBC article, it is good to say a few words about Omar Saidou Tall or Umar Tall, and why he is so venered by Senegalese. Omar Saidou Tall was a religious, political, and military leader who fought against French colonization in the region then known as French Sudan which encompassed Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. He opposed a fierce resistance to the French from 1857 to 1859. Senegalese tend to remember him as a hero of anti-French resistance, while Malian sources tend to describe him as an invader who paved the way for the French by weakening West Africa. We will go deeper into his life and legacy in the next post.


France has restored to Senegal a sabre that belonged to a 19th Century Islamic scholar and ruler.

It is part of a commitment to return to its former West African colonies key items of their cultural heritage.

The artefact originally belonged to the revered west African leader Omar Saidou Tall, who led an anti-colonial struggle against the French.

… Mr Philippe [France’s prime minister] said it was “the first step” in a project aimed at returning more Senegalese artefacts currently in French museums, which hold at least 90,000 artefacts from sub-Saharan Africa.

Last year a group of experts commissioned by France’s President Emmanuel Macron recommended that African treasures in French museums be returned to their countries of origin.


Omar Tall’s Sword (Source: RFI)

Their official report states that most of the Africa collection in Paris’ Quai Branly museum – approximately 46,000 pieces – was acquired with some degree of duress [not sure that they will return all these artefacts and leave their museums empty].

It’s symbolic. It had been lent to us before, but now it is being restored to us,” the head of Dakar’s Museum of Black Civilisations Hamady Bocoum told AFP news agency about the sabre.

The curved iron, brass and wood sword has been kept in its leather sheath in the museum in Senegal’s capital on loan from France. But Sunday’s ceremony saw the item formally returned for a period of five years.

The next stage will be for French MPs to vote on whether to permanently return this and other artefacts.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | November 20, 2019

Proverbe sur l’Avarice / Proverb on Greediness


Chien / Dog

Le chien s’est dechiré la gueule en mangeant de trop grands morceaux (Proverbe Azande – République Centrafricaine, République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), Sud Soudan). – Ne pas avoir les yeux plus grands que le ventre.

The dog tore its mouth while eating very big pieces (Azande proverb – Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan). Do not have eyes bigger than the stomach.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | November 18, 2019

The Sahara was Home to World’s Largest Sea Creatures

Sahara_ancient sea creatures

Some of the sea creatures that lived underwater in the location where the Sahara desert is today. (Source: American Museum of Natural History 2019)

Given that Africa is the cradle of humanity, it totally makes sense that it would also be the place where some the world’s largest sea creatures hail from. The excerpt below from the Guardian reveals that the Sahara was home to some of the world’s largest sea creatures. Enjoy!


Scientists reconstruct extinct species using fossils found in northern Mali from ancient seaway

Some of the biggest catfish and sea snakes to ever exist lived in what is today the Sahara desert, according to a new paper that contains the first reconstructions of extinct aquatic species from the ancient Trans-Saharan Seaway.


Map of Mali with its capital Bamako

The sea was 50 metres deep and once covered 3,000 sq km of what is now the world’s biggest sand desert. The marine sediment it left behind is filled with fossils, which allowed the scientists who published the study to build up a picture of a region that teemed with life.

Between 100 m and 50 m years ago, today’s arid, boulder-strewn northern Mali “looked more like modern Puerto Rico”; the sun shone on some of the earliest mangroves, and molluscs lined the shallow seabed, according to Maureen O’Leary, the palaeontologist who led the study.

Sahara_ancient sea creatures_1

Reconstruction of sharks feeding on a dyrosaurid crocodily form. (Source: American Museum of Natural History 2019)

The study also formally named the geological units, literally putting the area on the geological map for the first time, showing how the sea ebbed and flowed over its 50 m years of existence, and building up information about the K-Pg boundary, the geophysical marker of one of Earth’s five major extinction events, in which the non-avian dinosaurs became extinct.

With 1.6 m catfish, 12.3 m sea snakes and 1.2 m pycnodonts – a type of bony fish – O’Leary and the other scientists developed the idea that in the late Cretaceous and early Paleogene period, the animals were experiencing gigantism.

Evolutionary biologists have long talked about the phenomenon of island gigantism, where species that live on small islands can sometimes develop very large bodies, possibly because they have more resources or there are few predators, or both.


Nike Crow_1

Le corbeau au col blanc / White Collared Crow

Le corbeau au col blanc évite la saleté (Proverbe Kiswahili – Kenya, Tanzanie, RDC). – Un homme intelligent fuit les palabres.

The white-collared crow avoids dirt (Kiswahili proverb – Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)). An intelligent man runs away from trouble.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | November 13, 2019

The African Crow: The Crow with a Nike Collar

Nike Crow_1

A crow snacking on some bread

A few years back, my father was visiting Melbourne in Australia, when he heard a bird crowing around. So he asked an Australian lady nearby what bird that was, and she answered the crow… and my dad went on to tell her that in his country, the crow had a white collar, and sounded just like that… so the lady chuckled and said, “so you have a Nike-collar crow in your country.” So meet the Nike-collared Crow.

Nike Crow_Rwanda_1

Crows in Rwanda

When I first moved to the West, I never understood why people taught of the crow as a bad bird, or rather a bird of bad omen. When I asked, they told me because of its black coat, and black feathers, and because of its cry. This sounded totally weird to me… why? Because in African culture, the crow is not a bad bird, or a bird bringing ominous news. It is actually a good bird. Not only that, but the crow is not an all-black bird, but it has a white collar. I was surprised to find this white-collared bird in Cameroon, in Rwanda, and in other places, thus telling me that the white-collared crow is indigenous to Africa.

With the white collar, isn’t your perception of the crow changed?

Nike Crow_Cameroon_2

Crows in Cameroon


Lionheart (2018 film)

I was quite stunned when I heard the reason why the Nigerian movie Lionheart (2018 film) had been disqualified from the Best International Film section of the Oscars: because of … too much English in it! Can you imagine that? Isn’t English the official language of Nigeria? So no movies made in English by Nigerians should be accepted? But an Algerian movie with French in it (French the language of the colonizer) gets accepted in that section? In other words, a Jamaican movie sent to the academy cannot be in English, a Ghanaian, Ugandan, Canadian, or Australian one should not be in English, etc… even though English is the official language in these countries? But an Algerian movie could be in French, an Ivorian or Comoros movie in French, and these would be qualified as ‘international’ enough! This does not even take into account that Lionheart (2018 film) does have sections in Igbo, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria. I think, as always the oscars academy has shown why they are really not inclusive at all, and above all, quite narrow-minded!

Below is the article from The Guardian.



The Oscars

[…] The Academy was considering a Nigerian movie called Lionheart in its best international feature film category. I watched Lionheart when it came out last year, partly because of the novelty of seeing a movie from Nigeria’s burgeoning Nollywood film industry on Netflix.

Directed by and starring the Nollywood titan Genevieve Nnaji, it is a captivating look at family, class, sexism, politics and the texture of life in the Niger delta. It’s both very Nigerian and very relatable for audiences who know nothing about Nigeria. It’s incredible that Nigeria has never had an Oscars submission before, but this is a good choice for its first. Yet Lionheart has just been disqualified because there is too much English in it.

In fact, Lionheart does feature the Igbo language, which millions of people in eastern Nigeria speak. But the film reflects the way many Nigerians – as former imperial British subjects – speak in real life. As in most of anglophone west Africa, education, politics and formal economic activity is conducted in English, which people interchange with the dozens – in Nigeria’s case, hundreds – of African languages that they also speak. This is the legacy of empire. And this legacy of empire, even though they were once part of it, is what some American institutions don’t seem able to comprehend.

Flag and map of Nigeria

Flag and map of Nigeria

So the American Academy expects films competing in its “international feature film” category to emphatically not be in English. Its rules are very clear on the matter, stating that “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

But these rules have nonsensical implications. For example, the Algerian film Papicha, which is a favourite in the category, features a good deal of French – the language Algeria inherited from its colonisers. The message seems to be that as long as your imperial power spoke what Americans regard as a “foreign” language – in other words, anything but English – you can speak it and remain authentic. But if you share an imperial past with the US to the extent that English is your nation’s lingua franca as a result, then it is somehow less authentic to speak it. …


Main et gant / hand and glove

Nous sommes comme salive et langue (proverbe Zulu – Afrique du Sud, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini). – Comme main et gant, impossible de se séparer.

We are like saliva and tongue (Zulu proverb – South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini). – Like hand and glove, impossible to be separated.

Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: