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.
“Les lignes de nos mains sont des lignes de Vie, de Destin, de Coeur, d’Amour. De douces chaînes qui nous lient les uns aux autres, Les vivants aux morts.”
“The lines of our hands Are life lines Destiny lines, Heart lines, Love lines. Soft chains Which bind us One to the other, The living to the dead.”
Bernard Dadié in ‘Les lignes de nos mains’ published in La Ronde des Jours, Edition Pierre Seghers, 1956. The English translation is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. [Note: punctuation was added to write in one line the first sentence].
It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of the great Ivorian writer Bernard Binlin Dadié. Bernard Dadié was a Baobab of African literature, and he was 103 years of age at the time of his passing. On his 100th-year birthday, he had complained of not being able to write as much anymore, given that he still had so much to say! Dadié was a literary virtuoso who brilliantly explored many genres from poetry, to fiction, to theater.
Many have wondered what was the secret of his longevity, and “his children always thought that Dadié was able to surmount all those obstacles and live so long because he was deeply in love with his wife,” said Serge Bilé [« Ses enfants ont toujours pensé qu’il a pu traverser toutes ces épreuves et vivre si longtemps car il était amoureux de sa femme » Jeune Afrique] writer, journalist, and whose mother was a cousin of Assamala Dadié (Dadié’s wife).
Dadié was born in Assinie, Côte d’Ivoire, and attended the local Catholic school in Grand Bassam and then the Ecole William Ponty. He worked for the French government in Dakar, Senegal. Upon returning to his homeland in 1947, he became part of its movement for independence: he denounced colonialism and neo-colonialism. Before Côte d’Ivoire‘s independence in 1960, he was detained for sixteen months for taking part in demonstrations that opposed the French colonial government.
Climbié, his most well-known novel was published in 1956, and was the first Ivorian fiction. With his theater piece The cities (Les Villes), played in Abidjan in April1934, Dadié gave Francophone Africa its first drama piece. I am sure there were others played in the olden ancestral days, but this was the first one written in Molière’s language. He was also the first to win the great literary price of Black Africa (le grand prix littéraire de l’Afrique noire) twice in 1965 with Boss of New York (Patron de New York, Présence Africaine, 1964), and The City where No One Dies (La Ville où nul ne meurt, Présence Africaine, 1969) in 1968. His other big novels are: Le Pagne noir – Contes africains (1955), Un Nègre à Paris (Présence Africaine, 1959), Les voix dans le vent (1970), Monsieur Thôgô-Gnini (1970) ou les poèmes du recueil La rondes des jours(1956). In recent years, his poem “Dry Your Tears Afrika” (“Seche Tes Pleurs” de Bernard Binlin Dadié / “Dry your Tears Afrika” by Bernard B. Dadié) was set to music by American composer John Williams for the Steven Spielberg movie Amistad. Lastly, a street bears his name in Abidjan.
Among many other senior positions, starting in 1957, he held the post of Minister of Culture in the government of Côte d’Ivoire from 1977 to 1986. As a twist on fate, next week will come out in Côte d’Ivoire, a book titled 100 writers pay tribute to Dadié (100 écrivains rendent hommageà Dadié) in the Éburnie éditions. Bernard Dadié is the symbol of Côte d’Ivoire‘s deep and rich culture, marking a literary resistance to colonialism and neo-colonialism, and a strong love for his people, continent, and race.
Today, We will look at a poem by the most celebrated Ivorian writer Bernard Binlin Dadié. The poem below is titled “I Thank you God” or “I thank you my God,” and it is an ode to us Africans, raising the self-esteem. Dadié writes here about his pride of being born Black, around independence, when the colonizer had almost beaten out of us our pride of being Black, our pride of being ‘us’. Enjoy! a great poem from Bernard B. Dadié.
Je vous remercie mon Dieu, dem’avoir créé Noir, d’avoir fait de moi la somme de toutes les douleurs, mis sur ma tête, le Monde. J’ai la livrée du Centaure Et je porte le Monde depuis le premier matin.
Le blanc est une couleur de circonstance Le noir, la couleur de tous les jours Et je porte le Monde depuis le premier soir.
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.
Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir, d’avoir fait de moi, la somme de toutes les douleurs. Trente-six épées ont transpercé mon coeur. Trente-six brasiers ont brûlé mon corps. Et mon sang sur tous les calvaires a rougi la neige, Et mon sang à tous les levants a rougi la nature.
Je suis quand même Content de porter le Monde, Content de mes bras courts de mes bras longs de l’épaisseur de mes lèvres.
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.
Ithank you God, for making me black, for making me the sum of all pains, putting on my head the world. I took the world to the Centaur And I have carried the world since the first morning.
White is a color of circumstance Black is the color of every day And I have carried the world since the first evening.
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.
I thank you God, for having created me black for having made me the sum of all pains. Thirty-six swords have pierced my heart. Thirty-six brasiers have burned my body. And my blood for all the suffering reddened the snow, And my blood made the east red.
I am still Happy to carry the world, happy with my short arms of my long arms of my thick lips.
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.