Proverbe sur la patience et la discrétion / Proverb on Patience and discretion

haircut5On ne conduit pas chez le coiffeur un enfant qui n’est pas encore né (Proverbe Dogon – Mali). – Ne vendez pas la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué.

We do not take a child who is not yet born to the hairdresser (Dogon proverb – Mali).- Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Description of Djenné’s Market in 1825

René Caillié

Here is a description of the Market of the city of Djenné, another one of the crown jewels of the Empire of Mali, by the French explorer René Caillié. Bear in mind that René Caillié was the first westerner to return from TimbuktuMali. Also note the description of Suya by a European in 1825!


The Kola merchants stand at one end of the market, placed in two lines, each having in front of them a small basket of Kola nuts that they sell in retail,  eight or ten cowries* each : the low price came from the large quantity of these fruits found in the entire country ; but they are normally worth fifteen to twenty cowries.

La grande mosquee de Djenne (Mali - heritage du grand empire du Mali)
La grande mosquee de Djenne (Mali – heritage du grand empire du Mali)

A few Butchers were established in the market; they lay their meat like in Europe: they also put in skewers small pieces of meat that they dry with smoke, and which they sell in retail. There is in this market a lot of fresh fish and dry ; earthen pots, calabashes, mats, and salt which is sold in retail, because that which is sold wholesale stays in shops.

Timbuktu_Rene Caille House 1905-06
René Caillié’s house in Timbuktu

We see an infinite number of merchants in the streets carrying their merchandise and yelling like it is done in Europe : these are fabrics of the country, things homemade, kola nuts, honey, vegetable butter and animal, milk, firewood. This last item is rare here; women bring it from 12 to 15 miles around. Millet stubble is also sold in the market; during my stay in this city,  every night I saw negro women who had bought this fuel for 10 cowries, to cook their supper …

René Caillé, Journal d’un voyage à Tombouctou et à Jenné dans l’Afrique centrale. Tome 2, P. 199 et s. English translation by Dr. Y.,

*Cowry: small white sea shells used as trade money in Africa up until a recent times.

Serpent (Cobra)

Proverbe Bamiléké sur la paresse / Bamileke Proverb on Laziness

Serpent (Cobra)
Serpent (Cobra)

Le serpent dit qu’il arrangera ses pattes quand it sera grand (Proverbe Bamiléké – Cameroun). – Une occasion manquée ne revient plus (pour le paresseux).

The snake says that it will arrange its legs when it gets big (Bamileke proverb – Cameroon). – An opportunity missed does not come back (for the lazy one).

Short Parents

Short parents, tall child

A short father and a short mother gave birth to 4 tall children. But these children weren’t just tall – they were vain. When they got old enough to think for themselves, they looked down their noses at their parents and said, “These people cannot be our parents. We are too big to have come from such little things.”

So they left their parents and went to ask the King to provide them with a new set. They knew he would never give them new parents if he knew they already had some, no matter how short they were; so they lied, and told him that they were orphans.

You should know that these children were planning on making a living by baking.

The King listened carefully, and then he said; “I will give you parents. But in return you must give me 2 sacks of charcoal. But this charcoal must not come from wood. You must make it out of pure fire.”


The tall children had no idea how to do this, so they went back to ask their short parents for advice. Of course, they did not want to tell them how they were trying to get new parents, more befitting to their tall stature; so they lied again, and told them they went to the King only to ask for food.

We asked him nicely, but he told us to make some charcoal from nothing but fire! How do we do it?”

Of course the parents wanted to help their children, so they agreed. “Okay. Go back and tell him that the charcoal is cooking, but that in order to prepare it properly you need to have jars filled with the King’s tears.”


They went back to the king and did as their parents had asked. The King said, “I have no tears. But I now know you have not been telling the truth. You are being too clever. Someone must have told you to play this trick. The only people who would help you in this way must be your parents.”

And so the tall children had to go back and live with their short parents.

So what is the lesson of this story? Whether they are rich or poor, or tall or short, strong or weak, you must love your parents as they are. They are irreplaceable in your life. You can search the whole world but you will never find anyone else who will be parents for you.

This is a Congolese tale from Melvin Burgess blog.

16 June 1976: Soweto Uprising from Sarafina!

Sarafina poster (Wikipedia)

In order to remember the 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, I decided to share with you these images and song from the movie Sarafina! which focused on the 1976 Soweto riots. It is simply beautiful! The character says: “They fear you because you are young, they fear you because you are the future; How fearful they must be that they shoot you children? How powerful you must be that they fear you so much. You are powerful because you are the generation that will be free. The violence, the beatings, the torture, the killings, all this is the bad pain of our free nation. … Freedom is coming tomorrow!” In essence, this is a message for all the youth around the world: You are the future, you are strong, take hold of it, and do the best!

2018 FIFA World Cup: the African Teams

2018 Fifa world cup
2018 FIFA World Cup

Today, the whole world will be transported to the land of the Matryoshka dolls, and the entire globe will vibrate at the start of the biggest planetary sport event … Yes today, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will start in Russia, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great event. This will be one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent. Zabivaka, the mascot’s name means “the one who scores” in Russian, and we are looking forward to great goals and top scorers. This month, legends will be made, new talents discovered, and dreams will take off.

Five African teams will grace the tournament: EgyptNigeria, MoroccoSenegal, and Tunisia. We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond.  Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.

2018 Fifa1
Zabivaka the mascot

The Pharaohs of Egypt are among Africa’s best teams, being 7th time African Cup of Nations champions. This year, the big star is Mohamed Salah who, with his  Premier League Golden Boot award and more prowess, has become a legend in his home country.  Egypt is in a relatively easy group with the home team Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. Their goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, at 45 is also the oldest player at the World cup this year, and has been a favorite to watch during all the African Cup of Nations, in par due to his charisma, discipline, and sheer determination.

Morocco’s Lions of the Atlas are in group B with Spain, Portugal, and Iran. The group looks tough with Spain and Portugal, but we do wish them the very best. This is their first participation in 20 years, Medhi Benatia and his teammates do hope to have a great world cup.

2018 Fifa2
2018 FIFA World Cup groups

Tunisia’s Eagles of Carthage are in group G with England, Belgium, and Panama. This is a tough group. They are led by Wahbi Khazri, and although they have lost their top player Youssef Msakni to injury, they do hope for a good world cup.

The Lions of the Teranga of Senegal are led by Cheikhou Kouyaté are also a big team. They are in a relatively easy group, group H, with Poland, Japan, and Colombia. Their young coach, Aliou Cissé, has put a big emphasis on focus and determination. So we do hope to see them in the second round.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are led by their captain John Obi Mikel. At the last world cup, in Brazil in 2014, Nigeria was also in the same group as Argentina. The other teams in group D are Croatia and Iceland. With good discipline, the super Eagles should be able to advance in the competition as well.

fifa-world-cupThroughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have been often disappointed.  I might once again be disappointed.  However, this is a planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. To make for a fun event with great home support, we hope that the host team, Russia, makes it to the second round. For the world cup winner, Germany, the previous winner has as strong squad, as well as a pool of great talents, and they will be eyeing their 5th world cup. We hope the Mannschaft is very well-oiled, because there are 31 good teams to contend with! Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!

Praising an African King: Lobengula’s Praise Poem

Senegal_Wolof griot 1890
Wolof griot from Senegal, ca 1890

Last month, we talked about the griot tradition of West Africa. This African tradition of long lineages of storytellers, historians, and history repositories of the society, extends beyond West Africa, to all over the continent. For the Ndebele of Zimbabwe, the griot is known as the imbongi.

Below is a praise poem celebrating the Ndebele King Lobengula. The poem was recited in Ndebele by imbongi (griot/poet) Mtshede Ndhovu to T.J. Hemans around c.1970. Mtshede Ndhlovu was born when Mzilikazi (Lobengula’s father) was still on the throne, that is, before 1868, making him some 105 years old. His son, Bova Ndhlovu, acted as interpreter, assisting Hemans with the translation.

For the entire poem, with the Ndebele version, please check out African Poems .


King Lobengula of Matabeleland

Praise Poem for Lobengula

It roared like a calf. (1)
He who has books is at the river crossing. (2)
The cumulus cloud which rains from overcast sky. (3)
The words of a mountain, King of Mgabi Ndwandwe. (4)
The bird that builds with its beak pointing to a pool of water,
some say catch it some say leave it that it the way it builds. (5)
The black lion of Mabindela.
Grass does not burn in the Kalahari, some burns and bends. (6)
He was furious and then the tribes and commissioners were angry. (7)
Spoor of the leopard that disappears in rivers. (8)
The bush buck that strikes with its hooves and damaged the stones. (9)
Watch him, the destroyer, because he destroyed the commoners. (10)
He who is food they feed from for many many years,
when he dies where will they feed from,
they will eat jackals and roots.
He whose majesty is like that of his father Matshobana.
Cattle have popularity, they are lowing and attract afar.
He whose path is winding like that of ants.
The small bird of the spear, so small it can sit on the spear.

Praises Given to the Kings of the Amandebele,
T.J. Hemans,
Nada X, 3 (n.p., 1971).

Zimbabwe_Rudd_Concession between Cecil Rhodes and Lobengula 1880s
The Ruud Concession

(1) This praise-poem was recorded c.1970, when a new war for Zimbabwe was in progress. Lobengula is contrasted with Mzilikazi for failing to protect the nation. He is a calf compared to a bull and his roaring is not impressive.

(2) Lobengula signed the Rudd Concession in 30 October 1888, granting mining rights to the British South African Company. He assumed the miners would accept his kingship, but it was soon evident that the BSA were coming as colonizers. He who has books is Charles Rudd, the treaty bearer, and the river crossing is the Limpopo, the southern border to Ndebele territory.

(3) A reference to Lobengula’s responsibility as rainmaker. Later in praise [line] 12, he comes food they feed from.

(4) Unlike Mzilikazi, Lobengula drew his legitimacy as chief from his ancestry. See also praises 6 and 13.

(5) Lobengula’s succession was controversial, and his performance as king was disputed.

(6) Mzilikazi was called the tall grass in the Kalahari desert that will burn with men’s leather loin cloths (praise 6). Lobengula is the grass that does not burn.

King Shaka of the Zulu people

(7) The signing of the Rudd Concession led to anger on all sides, culminating the war of 1893.

(8) Lobengula’s policies were difficult to follow. See also praise 15, where his course is winding like that of ants.

(9) Again, this contrasts with Mzilikazithe bush buck that steps carefully on the rocks, implying diplomatic skills such as wariness.

(10) Mzilikazi’s victories, starting with Shaka, were against enemies of stature. Lobengula is credited with no military virtues and his anger is directed at commoners.

African Joke: A Rich Zimbabwean Pen Pal

Zimbabwean Dollars

A chick has a very rich Zimbabwean pen pal.

Every night, she loves on Skype, WhatsApp, Imo, Twitter, etc…

One morning, the guy surprises her by sending her a moneygram transfer for 60 millions as pocket money.

Given all the operations that she anticipates doing, she hires 2 security agents (100 000 FCFA) to accompany her, she hires a cab for the day, and buys a pretty handbag on credit to go retrieve the money…

Billet de 10000 FCFA (1992)
Billet de 10 000 FCFA (1992)


At the counter, they tell her that 60 Zimbabwean million dollars is 30 320 FCFA.

Imagine the rest. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

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

Description of Kong, Capital of Samori Touré, in 1892

Cote dIvoire_Kong_Une Mosquée de Kong 1892
A mosque in Kong, 1892

Below is a description of Kong, the last capital of Samori Touré, by a French explorer back in 1892. In 1892, it was a delight to the eyes, and even the French explorers and conquerors were stunned by its beauty! Enjoy!


Cote dIvoire_Binger Arrivée_à_Kong-1892
Arrival of the French explorer Louis-Gustave Binger in Kong in 1888

Kong is infinitely less dirty that Bondoukou, even though its population is six (6) or seven (7) times higher. The deleterious miasmas are less persistent probably because of the altitude (about 700 meters). At these heights, the wind beats any infection. Built on an elongated rump, the city is freshened up by the least breeze. The surroundings, except a few groups of large trees used as sheds for animals, are deforested as far as the eye can see. At this time of the year, this immensity is of a deep green similar to English lawns, the whole landscape is of an exquisite charm. – And the grace, charm, are rare things on this

Samori Touré

morose continent ! – The city, especially from the northwest, gilded by the setting sun, with its pyramidal minarets of its five mosques, the palm trees separating their thin silhouette from the sky, the superimposed terraces where groups of faithful appear at the time of prayer, is an unforgettable vision.  This is how Binger saw Kong for the first time, and I can imagine what must have been his surprise.

Marcel Monnier, France Noire, Plon ed. Paris, p. 204, 1894 . Translation to English by Dr. Y.