‘L’Oiseau en Liberté’ / ‘The Free Bird’ de Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg

Souimanga bronze / Bronzy sunbird

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a bird? To take off and fly away, carefree? What comes to mind when observing a bird: a great sense of freedom; freedom to come and go, freedom to sing, no worries for tomorrow, and freedom to just be. Beauty also comes to mind, but liberty always prevail as one of the main descriptors. I recently stumbled upon this poem by Cameroonian author Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg, ‘The Free Bird’ which describes so well that sense of freedom which most of us aspire to. The author focuses on a bird, and describes the freedom the bird enjoys, the lightness, which is greater than all fortunes. I present here ‘L’Oiseau en Liberté‘ by Claude-Joseph M’Bafou-Zetebeg, published in Anthologie Africaine: Poésie Vol2, Jacques Chevrier, Collection Monde Noir Poche, 1988, and translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com . Enjoy!

L’Oiseau en liberté’ / ‘The Free Bird‘ de Claude-Joseph M’Bafou Zetebeg

L’oiseau qui passe là-bas,

L’oiseau léger

Qui bat des ailes

Et fend l’air là-bas à l’horizon,

N’a rien à lui au monde,

Mais comme il est joli

En liberté !

Et c’est en chantant

Qu’il vit sur la branche,

Le bel oiseau voyageur

Qui rythme les saisons.

Car rien ne vaut la liberté :

C’est la plus digne

De toutes les fortunes,

La liberté dont jouit l’oiseau

Qui vit sur la branche !

La liberté au feu sacré,

La liberté naturelle,

O la sainte liberté

Dont devrait jouir

Tout être

Dans sa facture naïve !

The bird that passes by,

The light bird,

Who flaps its wings

And splits the air over there in the horizon,

Has nothing of its own in the world,

But how pretty it is

In liberty!

And it is by singing

That it lives on the branch,

The beautiful traveling bird

Who punctuates seasons.

‘Cause nothing beats freedom:

It is the most worthy

Of all fortunes

The freedom enjoyed by the bird,

That lives on the branch !

Freedom in the sacred fire,

Natural freedom,

O the holy freedom

That every being should enjoy

In its naive craftsmanship !

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