Posted by: Dr. Y. | May 24, 2019

The Orphan and the Wicked Villagers

Troupeau de vaches

Boys leading a herd of cows

There was once, in a village, a very rich man who owned many herds of cows, goats, and sheep. He had only one child, a son, still very young whose mother had passed away after giving him life!
When the old man felt his own death coming, he worried: who was going to advise his son so that he would not get devoured by the man-eating worms, the man-eating worms that migrated between the two great rivers where every day he went to water his flocks? The villagers could not do it. On the contrary, they would be jubilant at the idea of seeing his son devoured by the man-eating worms. They would happily split his herds among themselves!

Cailcedrat1

Cailcedrat (Source: paysdelaTeranga blog)

He was going to entrust his son to a tree, an old cailcedrat :

  • I am going to die, he said. I entrust my son to you so that you counsel him.

Then he passed away.

In the morning, before taking his flocks to pasture, the young boy would sing to the tree.

  • My father entrusted me to you, great cailcedrat. Should I take my flocks to Toubalitou? Or should I lead them to Diabalidia?

The tree shook its heavy branches laden with leaves three times, and said:

  • Go to Toubalitou. Do not go to Diabalida. The man-eating works will be at Diabalida today!

The young boy led his flocks to Toubalitou, and in the evening came back safe and sound to the village. The villagers were astonished and furious. Someone must be advising the boy for him not to be eaten by the worms! They were going to find out who was counseling him. They hired a hunter for that task, who brought back the secret. They cut down the tree, burnt it, and threw the ashes in the river.

Turtledove Cameroon

A turtledove at dusk

When the orphan came for counsel, he found nothing. He cried, and still sang his song. One never knew. It was a turtledove who answered him. And once again he got home safe and sound. People were once again surprised. They were furious at the hunter, he had lied to them.

The hunter once again told them the new secret, and promised them that he would kill the turtledove. However, he never could. He became insane, and still runs to this day firing shots at the sky taking it for his turtledove.

Since that day, wise men and women tell their children never to kill a turtledove.

The French original can be found on Ouologuem Blog. Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

fumier1

Fumier / Manure

Celui qui marche sur le fumier, devra se laver les pieds (Proverbe Bahumbu – République Démocratique du Congo (RDC)). – Qui s’y frotte, s’y pique.

Whoever walks on manure, will have to wash his feet (Bahumbu proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)). – If you go looking for trouble, you will find it.

Lebombo bone_2

The Lebombo bone

Have you ever heard of the Lebombo Bone? It is even older than the Ishango bone. It is indeed the oldest known mathematical artifact in the world. Discovered in the 1970s in Border Cave, a rock shelter on the western scarp of the Lebombo Mountains in an area near the border of South Africa and Swaziland (now Eswatini). The bone was found on the Eswatini side, and dates from 35,000 BC. It consists of 29 distinct notches that were deliberately cut into a baboon’s fibula.

The bone is between 44,200 and 43,000 years old, according to 24 radiocarbon datings. This is far older than the Ishango bone with which it is sometimes confused. Other notched bones are 80,000 years old but it is unclear if the notches are merely decorative or if they bear a functional meaning.

According to The Universal Book of Mathematics, the Lebombo bone’s 29 notchesmay have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians, because keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar.” However, the bone is clearly broken at one end, so the 29 notches may or may not be a minimum number. In the cases of other notched bones since found globally, there has been no consistent notch tally, many being in the 1–10 range. The Lebombo bone resembles a calendar used by the early men of the area, coming from the San clans of Namibia; this way of making tallies is still used by the San people today.

 

Lebombo Ishango bones

Top image: Lebombo bone. Bottom: Ishango bone with prime numbers engraving (J.D. Loreto and D.H. Hurlbert Smithsonian)

According to The Universal Book of Mathematics, the Lebombo bone’s 29 notches “may have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians, because keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar.” However, the bone is clearly broken at one end, so the 29 notches may or may not be a minimum number. In the cases of other notched bones since found globally, there has been no consistent notch tally, many being in the 1–10 range. This resembles a calendar used by the early men of the area, coming from the San clans of Namibia. These represent the earliest unambiguous evidence for modern human behaviour.

To anyone who ever doubted it, Africa is indeed the cradle of humanity… and women (if it is indeed a lunar tool) were quite advanced mathematicians 35,000 years ago, using calculators to make lunar calendars!

Water stagnant2

Eau stagnante / Stagnant water

Les eaux stagnantes sont mangeuses d’hommes (Proverbe Luba – République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), Zambie, Angola). Méfiez-vous des gens qui ne disent rien.

Stagnant waters are man eaters (Luba proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Angola). Beware of people who do not say anything.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | May 10, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day 2019

For this year’s Mother day, I decided to post Lesline’s rendition of “Sweet Mother” by Prince Nico Mbarga. As I told you in my past post, Mbarga’s ‘Sweet Mother‘ is the most loved and most popular African song of all times. Enjoy Lesline’s rendition of this African classic on The Voice Afrique Francophone season 1, and remember to love and pamper your mother this Sunday! Happy Mother’s day.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | May 8, 2019

Proverbe pour les Mères / A Proverb for Mothers

Nail6

Doigts et ongles / Fingers and nails

On ne peut séparer l’ongle du doigt (Proverbe Kossi, Bakossi – Cameroun). – On ne peut pas séparer l’enfant de sa mère.

The nail cannot be separated from the finger (Bakossi proverb – Cameroon). – You cannot separate the child from his mother. 

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

African Joke: Water in the Carburetor

Carburetor

Carburetor

– “The car cannot start,” says a woman to her husband. “There is water in the carburetor.”

– “Water is the carburetor? But how could you possibly know that? You don’t even know what is a carburetor!

– “I tell you again,” says the woman, “there is water in the carburetor. I am absolutely certain of it.

car-drowned-in-pool_1

Car in the swimming pool

– “Ok. I will go see what I can do. Where is the car?”

– “In the swimming pool…

The original in French is found on Nouchi.com . Translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com

Frog3

Crapaud / Frog

Le crapaud ignore que sa peau est lisse (Proverbe Douala – Cameroun). – Quand on est laid, on ne se moque pas des autres.

The frog does not know that its skin is not smooth (Duala proverb – Cameroon). – When you are ugly, do not laugh at others.

Togoland - flag

Flag of the German colony of Togoland

Below is the translation of a letter in which the Kings and Chiefs of Little Popo and Grigi in Togoland (actual Togo) are asking for their lands to be placed under the protection of the German Imperial Majesty the Kaiser, i.e. to be placed under German protection, or rather placing (not knowing the full extent) their lands under German protectorate. This was signed on March 5th of 1884. Remember that Little Popo is now known as Aného in Togo. Grigi might have been the town of Glidji.

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Togoland_Map of Togoland in 1885

Map of Togoland in 1885

I. We, the signatories, Kings and chiefs of Little Popo and Grigi, express our gratitude to Your Majesty for having assisted us in upholding peace in our land.

II. There would be no threat and no uncertainty, if the British government would refrain from interference in the affairs of our lands, which it desires, while we desire her not to have it.

III. We ask Your Majesty to provide us with protection and to avoid such an annexion.

IV. We implore Your Majesty to come to our aid, as we have placed ourselves fully under your protection.

V. We humbly request to take quick action.

signed
King Aiaushi Agbanor of Little Popo and Grigi,
Caboceer Quadjovi,
chief Pedro Quadjo
and 11 other signatures

to His Majesty, the Kaiser of Germany

Togoland - flag

Flag of the German colony Togoland

Today, I present to you the text of the treaty signed between King Mlapa – the King of Togo, or rather his representative Chief Plakko or Plakkou, and the Consul General Gustav Nachtigal thereby placing his land under German protectorate. This is the famous July 5th 1884 treaty which marks the beginning of the German protectorate in Togoland and the birth of this German colony in West Africa. As you read it, remember that Porto Seguro is now Agbodrafo and Bagida is Baguida in Togo. Note also that when it is said ‘King of Togo,’ Togo in this case refers to the area around Togoville, the village which gave its name to the entire country. As always, European colonizers used one main treaty in one area of the country (mostly coastal) to claim ownership over the rest of the country. The original in German can be found in Geschichte der deutschen kolonien by Horst Gründer, UTB (2018) p. 91-92

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Nachtigal

Gustav Nachtigal

Bagida, July 5th 1884

The Consul General for the German Reich, Dr.  Gustav Nachtigal, in the name of His Majesty the Kaiser of Germany, and Mlapa, King of Togo, represented for himself, his heirs and his chiefs by Plakkou, carrier of King Mlapa’s stick, have come to the following agreement :

Article 1
King Mlapa, desiring to protect legitimate trade, which mostly is carried out by Germans, and to grant the German merchants full security for their lives and property, requests the protection of His Majesty the German Kaiser, so that he is enabled to uphold the independence of his territory, which stretches from Porto Seguro‘s eastern border to the western border of Lomé or Bey Beach. His Imperial Majesty grants such protection, with the reservation of legitimately acquired rights of third parties.

Article 2
King Mlapa will cede no part of his lands and sovereignty rights to any foreign country of person, and he will not sign any treaty with any foreign power without the previously given approval of His Imperial Majesty.

Togo, Lome, Verladen von Baumwollballen

Lome, Togo: loading of cotton bales, early 1900s

Article 3
King Mlapa grants protection and free trade to all German subjects who live in his land, and promises never to grant merchants of other nations privileges, preferential treatment or protection beyond what is granted to the Germans. King Mlapa, without His Imperial Majesty’s approval, will refrain from collecting tariffs other than those presently collected, which are
1 Shilling for every ton of palm kernels
1 Shilling for every barrel of palm oil
which are to be paid to the chief of the respective location.

Article 4
His Majesty the German Kaiser will respect all trade treaties previously signed by King Mlapa and others, and will in no way place burdens upon free trade in King Mlapa‘s land.

Togoland_Map of Togoland in 1885

Map of Togoland in 1885

Article 5
His Majesty the German Kaiser will not interfere in the manner the tariff so far has been collected by King Mlapa and his chiefs

Article 6
The signatory parties reserve matters of mutual interest, not included in this treaty, for future agreements.

Article 7
This treaty takes force immediately, reserved ratification by the German government.
In order to testify, we have signed in the presence of the witnesses which have signed

Witnesses

Togoland_1908

Painting of Togoland in 1908 (R. Hellgrewe)

J.J. Gacher, J.B. Ahpevon, interpreters
H. Randad 
Josua Lenze
Mandt, Lt. at sea
Dr. Max Buchner
Chief Plakko 
Chief Adey of Lomé or Bey
Coodaycee 
Hadji, 2nd chief of Bey 
Okkoo
Nukoo
King Garsa of Bagida

signed Dr.  Nachtigal

1 Translator’s footnote : Here a text originally written in English, and printed in German translation in the RTA, has been re-translated into English. Thus it might differ slightly in diction from the original text. 

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