“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.

‘Antsa’ by Jacques Rabemananjara

rabemananjara
Jacques Rabemananjara (Project for Innovative Poetry – PIP)

Today, we will join the poet Jacques Rabemananjara in singing the praises of the Great Island… you know the one and only, Madagascar! Published in 1956 in Présence Africaine, Antsa is an ode to the Great island, a love song to Rabemananjara’s land of birth, Madagascar. Jacques Rabemananjara, like Léon Gontran Damas, was also part of the Negritude movement in France; he was said to be the most prolific writer of the negritude generation after Léopold Sédar Senghor, and he had the first négritude poetry published. He was a Malagasy politician, playwright and poet, who served as a government minister,  and later rose to the rank of Vice President of Madagascar under Philibert Tsiranana. He was one of the heroes of the Malagasy independence.

 

Madagascar
Madagascar

As you read Antsa, enjoy the island of syllables of flame, feel the love, the sweetness sweeter than honey, the patriotism expressed like the most ardent lover, the most faithful, feel the oneness with the homeland as no owl’s cry or burning could disturb the love the author feels for his motherland. Enjoy it, and try expressing it for the land of your birth… not the people… the land and its beauty!

 

Antsa par Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Ile !

Ile aux syllabes de flammes !

Jamais ton nom

Ne  fut plus cher à mon âme !

Ile,

Ne fut plus doux à mon cœur !

Ile aux syllabes de flamme,

Madagascar !

 

Quelle résonnance !

Les  mots

fondent dans ma bouche :

Le miel des claires saisons

Dans le mystère de tes sylves,

Madagascar !

 

Je mords la chair vierge et rouge

Avec l’âpre ferveur

Du mourant aux dents de lumière

Madagascar !

 

Un viatique d’innocence

dans mes entrailles d’affamé,

Je m’allongerai sur ton sein avec la fouge

du plus ardent de tes amants,

du plus fidèle,

Madagascar !

 

Qu’importent le hululement des chouettes

le vol rasant et bas

des hiboux apeurés sous le faîtage

de la maison incendiée !oh, les renards,

qu’ils lèchent

leur peau puante du sang des poussins, du sang auréolé des flamants-roses !

Nous autres, les hallucinés de l’azur,

nous scrutons  éperdument tout l’infini de bleu de la nue,

Madagascar !

 

Antsa by Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Island!

Island with syllables of flames!

Never your name

Was so dear to my soul!

Island,

So sweet to my heart!

Island with syllables of flames,

Madagascar!

 

Such resonance!

The words

Melt in my mouth:

The honey of clear seasons

In the mystery of your forests,

Madagascar!

 

I bite the virgin and red flesh

With the bitter fervor

Of the dying with bright teeth

Madagascar!

 

A viaticum of innocence

In my guts filled with hunger,

I will lie on your breast with the passion

Of the most ardent of your lovers,

Of the most faithful,

Madagascar!

 

No matter how much the owls hoot,

The low flying and frightened owls under ridge

Or the burning house! Oh the foxes,

May they lick

Their pungent skin from the chicks’ blood, the haloed blood of pink flamingoes!

We, the hallucinated of the azure,

We madly scour the infinite of the blue from the clouds

Madagascar!

 

 

Antsa, 1956, Présence Africaine

Jacques RABEMANANJARA

“Ils sont venus ce soir” / “They Came Tonight” by Leon Gontran Damas

Léon_Damas
Léon-Gontran Damas

They Came Tonight” is a poem by the celebrated French Guyanese author Léon-Gontran Damas. He is renowned as one of the founders of the Négritude movement, along Aimé Césaire and Leopold Senghor. In 1935, the three men published the first issue of the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student), which provided the foundation for what is now known as the Négritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s, aimed at raising and cultivating “Black consciousness” across Africa and its diaspora; this movement rejected the political, social and moral domination of the West.

Slavery_Ship1
Slaves on board a ship

They Came Tonight” is a poem similar to ‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo. In this case, it talks about when the Europeans came during slavery time, one night as the drums were thundering, and after that many Africans were taken away from their homes, from their loved ones, many were captured, and the day was never the same, history was never the same, families were destroyed, kingdoms destroyed, and to this day, Africa has not recovered for 400 years of slavery. This poem was first published in Pigments 1937, and later in Présence africaine, 1962.

 

Ils sont venus ce soir (Pour Léopold-Sedar Senghor)

ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie

des yeux
la frénésie des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues
DEPUIS
combien de MOI MOI MOI
sont morts
depuis qu’ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie
des yeux
la frénésie
des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues

They Came Tonight
for Léopold-Sedar Senghor

They came the night the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
the frenzy

of eyes
the frenzy of hands
the frenzy
of the feet of statues
SINCE
how many of ME ME ME
are dead
since they came that night when the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
frenzy
of eyes
frenzy
of hands
frenzy
of the feet of statues

“Nuit de Sine” Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Night in Sine” by Leopold Sedar Senghor

Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor

Today, I will publish another poem,” Nuit de Sine / Night in Sine,” by Léopold Sédar Senghor. The poem was published in Oeuvre Poetique, Paris, Seuil, 1990 P. 14-15.  The English translation was done by Melvin Dixon, in The Collected Poems, 1998, Univ. of Virginia Press.

Nuit de Sine

Femme, pose sur mon front tes mains balsamiques,
tes mains douces plus que fourrure.
Là-haut les palmes balancées qui bruissent dans la haute brise nocturne
À peine. Pas même la chanson de nourrice.
Qu’il nous berce, le silence rythmé.
Écoutons son chant, écoutons battre notre sang sombre, écoutons
Battre le pouls profond de l’Afrique dans la brume des villages perdus.

Voici que décline la lune lasse vers son lit de mer étale
Voici que s’assoupissent les éclats de rire, que les conteurs eux-mêmes
Dodelinent de la tête comme l’enfant sur le dos de sa mère
Voici que les pieds des danseurs s’alourdissent,
que s’alourdit la langue des chœurs alternés.

C’est l’heure des étoiles et de la Nuit qui songe
S’accoude à cette colline de nuages, drapée dans son long pagne de lait.
Les toits des cases luisent tendrement.
Que disent-ils, si confidentiels, aux étoiles ?
Dedans, le foyer s’éteint dans l’intimité d’odeurs âcres et douces.

Femme, allume la lampe au beurre clair, que causent autour les Ancêtres
comme les parents, les enfants au lit.
Écoutons la voix des Anciens d’Elissa. Comme nous exilés
Ils n’ont pas voulu mourir, que se perdît par les sables leur torrent séminal.
Que j’écoute, dans la case enfumée que visite un reflet d’âmes propices
Ma tête sur ton sein chaud comme un dang au sortir du feu et fumant
Que je respire l’odeur de nos Morts, que je recueille et redise leur voix vivante,
que j’apprenne à
Vivre avant de descendre, au-delà du plongeur,
dans les hautes profondeurs du sommeil.

 

Night in Sine

Woman, place your soothing hands upon my brow,
Your hands softer than fur.
Above us balance the palm trees, barely rustling
In the night breeze. Not even a lullaby.
Let the rhythmic silence cradle us.
Listen to its song. Hear the beat of our dark blood,
Hear the deep pulse of Africa in the mist of lost villages.

Now sets the weary moon upon its slack seabed
Now the bursts of laughter quiet down, and even the storyteller
Nods his head like a child on his mother’s back
The dancers’ feet grow heavy, and heavy, too,
Come the alternating voices of singers.

Now the stars appear and the Night dreams
Leaning on that hill of clouds, dressed in its long, milky pagne.
The roofs of the huts shine tenderly. What are they saying
So secretly to the stars? Inside, the fire dies out
In the closeness of sour and sweet smells.

Woman, light the clear-oil lamp. Let the Ancestors
Speak around us as parents do when the children are in bed.
Let us listen to the voices of the Elissa Elders. Exiled like us
They did not want to die, or lose the flow of their semen in the sands.
Let me hear, a gleam of friendly souls visits the smoke-filled hut,
My head upon your breast as warm as tasty dang streaming from the fire,
Let me breathe the odor of our Dead, let me gather
And speak with their living voices, let me learn to live
Before plunging deeper than the diver
Into the great depths of sleep.

 

 

Happy 2015!

Fireworks
Fireworks

Precious readers, may the year 2015 be the year of all great conquests, achievements, success, and greatness. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who visited my blog, and to all future visitors. 2014 was a beautiful year: the number of subscribers on Afrolegends.com has tripled, the number of visitors on the blog has doubled, the article Burkina Faso was cited by TIME Magazine online, while the article La SAPE was cited by The Guardian, and many articles were reblogged on multiple sites. For 2015, I wish you wonders without borders, peace, grace, and love.

Happy 2015 (Illustration by Osee Tueam, for Dr. Y, Afrolegends.com)
Happy 2015 (Illustration by Osee Tueam, for Dr. Y, Afrolegends.com)

Here were the top posts of 2014. Keep trusting, reading, sharing, and liking.

1. Samori Toure: African leader and Resistant to French Imperialism
2. ‘Love Poem for My Country’ by Sandile Dikeni
3. ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe
4. ‘Femme Noire/Black Woman’ by Leopold Sedar Senghor
5. The Ishango Bone: Craddle of Ancient Mathematics