Many cultures in Africa are matriarchal, and it absolutely makes sense that the homeland is constantly portrayed as a woman in African poetry. Today we will talk about the poem “Congolese Eve” by Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard. Tati-Loutard is a Congolese author from the Republic of Congo or Congo-Brazzaville. As an accomplished writer, he has published several compilation of poetry, and has won several awards. In his writings, he does a deep expose of the art, life, and nature; he often incorporates the feminine element in his work. Similar to other African authors like Léopold Sédar Senghor (former president of Senegal) or Ferdinand L. Oyono (minister in Cameroon), Tati-Loutard is also a politician, who has occupied several posts in the government of his country.
Enjoy ‘Ève Congolaise‘ by Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard, published in Anthologie africaine: poésie, Jacques Chevrier, Collection Monde Noir Poche, Hatier 1988, p. 136. Translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com.
Je l’ai vue quand Dieu l’a créée sur la Montagne :
C’était une pleine nuit, la lune ayant atteint
Le plus haut niveau de ses crues de lumière.
Avant que Dieu ne parût comme jadis sur l’Horeb,
L’herbe alentour marchait déjà tête baissée
Sous la brise.
Il prit de la terre non battue de quelque pied,
Et la coula – vierge comme au Jour Premier –
Dans un long rayon de lune.
En un tour de main, ce fut le tour des seins ;
Et la grâce et l’esprit giclaient d’Eve
En eclaboussements éblouissants de lumière.
Puis vint le signal :
Dans l’espace nu, le vent se mit à tourner sur lui-même
Comme s’il avait mal de ne pouvoir se détendre
Dans un arbre. Dieu reprit l’air dans le tourbillon ;
Et dans le silence plein de clarté,
L’Eve congolaise descendit vers le fleuve à l’heure
Où le soleil sort en refermant derrière lui
La porte de la nuit.
I saw her when God created her on the Mountain:
It was a full night, the moon having reached
the fullest level of its light floods.
Before God appeared as He once did on the Horeb,
The grass around was already walking head down
Under the breeze
He took some dirt from some foot,
And the flow – virgin as on the First Day –
In a long moon ray.
In no time it was the turn of the breasts ;
And the grace and the spirit spurted from Eve
In dazzling splashes of light.
Then came the signal :
In the naked space, the wind started to turn on itself
As if it hurts not to be able to relax
In a tree. God took the air back in the whirlwind;
And in the silence full of clarity,
The Congolese eve descended towards the river at the time
When the sun comes out closing behind him
The door of the night.
Les raciness congolaises, op. cit.