From Mariama Bâ

If you need reading ideas, and if you want a glimpse of life for women in one corner of West Africa, check out Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter. I recently finished reading the original French version, Une Si Longue Lettre. The author’s depiction of typical family situations among Muslim West Africans, and the resulting social atmosphere, paints a memorable picture of the world I’ve stepped into. Several of the passages struck me as particularly poetic. And they seemed to narrate the scenes I see everyday now.


“Nous longions la corniche, l’une des plus belles de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, véritable œuvre d’art de nature. Des rochers arrondis ou pointus, noirs ou ocres dominaient l’Océan.” (p. 46-47)

“We would walk along the Corniche, one of the most beautiful in West Africa, a sheer work of art wrought by nature. Rounded or pointed rocks, black or ochre-colored, overlooking the ocean.”


“L’air marin nous incitait à la bonne humeur. Le plaisir que nous goutions et qui fêtait tous nos sens, enivrait sainement, aussi bien le riche que le pauvre. Notre communion, avec la nature profonde, insondable et illimitée, désintoxiquait notre âme. Le découragement et la tristesse s’en allaient, soudainement remplacés par des sentiments de plénitude et d’épanouissement.” (p. 48)

“The sea air would put us in good humor. The pleasure we indulged in and in which all our senses rejoiced would intoxicate both rich and poor with health. Our communion with deep, bottomless and unlimited nature refreshed our souls. Depression and sadness would disappear, suddenly to be replaced by feelings of plenitude and expansiveness.”


“Les baobabs tendaient aux cieux les nœuds géants de leurs branches; des vaches traversaient avec lenteur le chemin et défiaient de leur regard morne les véhicules; des bergers, en culottes bouffantes, un bâton sur l’épaule ou à la main, canalisaient les bêtes. Hommes et animaux se fondaient comme en un tableau venu du fond des âges.” (p. 57)

“The baobab trees held out the giant knots of their branches towards the skies; slowly, the cows moved across the road, their mournful stare defying the vehicles; shepherds in baggy trousers, their sticks on their shoulders or in their hands, guided the animals. Men and animals blended, as in a picture risen from the depths of time.”



1 comment
  1. William Johnson said:

    Lovely glimpse at your surroundings, Kyr!  Thanks for sharing this- Love, Mom


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