“Eve Congolaise / Congolese Eve” by Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard

Congo_Brazzaville_Flag
Flag of the Republic of Congo

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.

African princess
African princess

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.

 

 

 

 

Eve Congolaise

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.

 

 

Congolese Eve

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.

Proud to be Black: A Quote by Bernard Dadié

Mwekassa1
Zack Mwekassa, Former World Champion of Boxing and Kick Boxing (Source: Glory KickBoxing)

Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir, … Je suis content de la forme de ma tête faite pour porter le Monde, Satisfait de la forme de mon nez Qui doit humer tout le vent du Monde, Heureux de la forme de mes jambes Prêtes à courir toutes les étapes du Monde.

I thank you God, for making me black, I am happy with the shape of my head shaped to carry the world, Satisfied with the shape of my nose which has to smell all the scents of the world, Happy with the shape of my legs ready to run all the steps of the world.

Bernard Binlin Dadié.  The poem above is titled “I Thank you God” or “I thank you my God,”

A Quote from Bernard Dadié: “Thank You God for Making me Black”

Laughter_1
Rire / Laughter

Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir, Je porte le Monde depuis l’aube des temps Et mon rire sur le Monde, dans la nuit crée le jour.

I thank you God, for having created me black, I carry the world since the beginning of times And my laughter on the world, at night created the day.

Aube_1
Aube / Dawn

Bernard Binlin Dadié.  The poem below is titled “I Thank you God” or “I thank you my God,” “Je vous Remercie Mon Dieu” de Bernard B. Dadie / “I Thank You God” from Bernard Binlin Dadie

‘A ma Mère / To my Mother’ by Camara Laye

isis-horus1
Isis and Horus, an African mother

I am sure every African child has read either the entire book or excerpts of ‘L’Enfant Noir‘, ‘African Child‘ by the Guinean author Camara Laye . It is a school classic. When we were in school, the teacher will often give us dictations from this book. The book focuses mostly about Camara Laye ‘s childhood and was written in the 1950s at a time when most African writers were talking about independence, negritude, panafricanism, etc. This earned Laye’s some tough remarks from Cameroonian author Mongo Beti and others about his lack of interest in panafricanism and African independences. Today, I present to you this poem, ‘A ma mère / To my mother‘ of Camara Laye to his mother (published in Coup de Pillon), which is in reality an ode to all African women, and all mothers around the globe. Good to note his mentioning of blacksmiths in this poem, especially given that Camara Laye’s family was Malinke and he was born into a caste that traditionally worked as blacksmiths and goldsmiths. The English translation is by Deborah Weagel. Enjoy!

A ma Mère

Femme noire, femme africaine,
Ô toi ma mère, je pense à toi…
Ô Daman, ô ma Mère,
Toi qui me portas sur le dos,
Toi qui m’allaitas, toi qui gouvernas mes premiers pas,
Toi qui la première m’ouvris les yeux aux prodiges de la terre,
Je pense à toi…

Femme des champs, femme des rivières
femme du grand fleuve, ô toi, ma mère je
pense à toi…

Ô toi Daman, Ô ma mère,
Toi qui essuyas mes larmes,
Toi qui me réjouissais le cœur,
Toi qui, patiemment, supportais mes caprices,
Comme j’aimerais encore être près de toi,
Etre enfant près de toi !

Femme simple, femme de la résignation,
Ô toi ma mère, je pense à toi.
Ô Daman, Daman de la grande famille des forgerons,
Ma pensée toujours se tourne vers toi,
La tienne à chaque pas m’accompagne,
Ô Daman, ma mère,
Comme j’aimerais encore être dans ta chaleur,
Etre enfant près de toi…

Femme noire, femme africaine,
Ô toi ma mère,
Merci, merci pour tout ce que tu fis pour moi,
Ton fils si loin, si près de toi.

To my Mother

Black woman, African woman, O mother, I think of you …
O Dâman, O mother,
who carried me on your back, who nursed me,
who governed by first steps,
who opened my eyes to the beauties of the world, I think of you …

Woman of the fields, woman of the rivers, woman of the great river, O
mother, I think of you …

O Dâman, O mother, who wiped my tears,
who cheered up my heart,
who patiently dealt with my caprices,
how I would love to still be near you.

Simple woman, woman of resignation, O mother, I think of you.
O Dâman, Dâman of the great family of blacksmiths, my thoughts are
always of you, they accompany me with every step,
O Dâman, my mother, how I would love to still feel your warmth,
to be your child that is close to you …
Black woman, African woman, O mother, thank you; thank you for all
that you have done for me, your son, so far away yet so close to you!

 

“Seche Tes Pleurs” de Bernard Binlin Dadié / “Dry your Tears Afrika” by Bernard B. Dadié

Bernard Dadie (Abidjan.net)
Bernard Dadie (Abidjan.net)

Today, We will look at a poem by the most celebrated Ivorian writer Bernard Binlin Dadié.  The poem below is titled “Dry your Tears Afrika” or “Sèche Tes Pleurs“.  Published in 1967, this poem is basically about Africa and her sons and daughters returning home.  It is about healing the wounds of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism.  This poem was actually translated into Mende, a language spoken by ~ 46% of Sierra Leone. It was also set to music by American composer John Williams for the Steven Spielberg movie, Amistad. Below is the original poem in French, written by Dadié.  The English version can be found below.  Enjoy the text, and the video of the poem sung in Mende with the English translation.

Sèche tes pleurs Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
dans l’orage et la tempête des voyages infructueux.
Sur le ris de l’onde et le babil de la brise,
Sur l’or des levants
Et la pourpre des couchants
des cimes des monts orgueilleux
Et des savanes abreuvées de lumière
Ils te reviennent
dans l’orage et la tempête des voyages infructueux. Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique
Ayant bu
À toutes les fontaines
d’infortune
et de gloire,
Nos sens se sont ouverts
à la splendeur de ta beauté
à la senteur de tes forêts,
à l’enchantement de tes eaux
à la limpidité de ton ciel
à la caresse de ton soleil
Et au charme de ta verdure emperlée de rosée.

Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
Les mains pleines de jouets
Et le coeur plein d’amour.
Ils reviennent te vêtir
De leurs rêves et de leurs espoirs.

Bee ya ma yee ah,
bee len geisia bee gammah.
Bee ya ma yee ah,
bee len geisia tee yamanga.
Baa wo, kah ung biah woie yaa.
Baa wo, kah ung biah woie yah, yah.
Oo be ya ma yee ah,
bee len geisia tee yamanga.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.Bee ya ma yee ah,
bee len geisia tee yamanga.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
bee len geisia bee gammah.
Oo bee ya mah yee ah
Bee len geisia tee yamanga.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.
Mu ya mah mu yah,
Mu ya mah mu yah,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.

Be ya mah yee ah,
bee len geisia tee yamanga.
Be ya mah yee ah,
bee len geisia bee gammah.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh,
Mu ya mah mu yeh, Afrika.