The Gambia’s only literary publication
Volume 2: Part 2
In the introduction of last week’s edition, some vital information was over sighted: that of the date of the second volume’s publication. The second volume of Ndaanan was published in March 1972. This volume also had few errors that were corrected in volume 3. The most important to note is about Tamba B.’s occupation. In the last edition, she was referred to as a student from a senior school. Tamba B. was actually a teacher.
Just after the editorial, a letter was sent to the editors and interestingly, it was signed by a Senegalese, Mr. James Benoit, working for the Senegalese High Commission which was situated at the time at 10 Cameron street (Nelson Mandela). It is an interesting encouraging letter meant to boost the courage of the founders and suggest other avenues for expansion. What's more interesting is the attempt to explain the meaning of NDAANAN.
NDaanan comes from the Jollof word Daan and is of the same family as Daanu: to fall. Among other meanings, Daan stands for the English verb to win, to gain the upper hand, i.e. Ku buray yaye daan: it is he who wrestles that wins, ku buray yaye daanu: it is he who wrestles that falls.
When a lady is concerned and you enter into rivalry with someone and you gain the upper hand and therefore are loved by her, Ya daan. Dianha be daanu na: and thus, for many reasons, not because you come from a good family, but perhaps you are more eloquent, more dressy or a man of means.
A NDaanan must have all the qualities, so to speak. Anybody may have them, a griot as well as a free born or a noble. So a NDaanan may be a griot as well as a free born or a noble man.
The writer continues to give examples of Ndaanans in Senegal claiming that they come from Saint Louis. In the thirties, the Louisian young men impressed people with their elaborate dresses and it consequently extended to Dakar. Danu dan daan, di diamalay. Before wishing success to Ndaanan above all other literary magazines, Mr James Benoit concluded by saying: “L’histoire est un perpetuel recommencement”. Ndaanan daan!!!
Ralphina De Almeida.
She is introduced as a Gambian living at the time abroad with her husband. She published a poem entitled Sun, Rain, Wind – Tropical elements. The poem is separated in three parts where each part expresses one of the elements. Sun has two stanzas of eleven lines each, Rain has three stanzas of five lines each and Wind has a six-lined stanza. The poem tends to describe the negative effects of the first two elements: the sun evaporates the water from the earth’s surface and creates excessive unbearable heat; the rain comes in torrents causing the destruction of plants and animals. The wind, according to the poet, is more soothing thus effacing all concern and bringing hope, endurance and joy.
Mr Jow published The Pond in this volume. It’s a story that has taken 12 pages out of the 48 pages printed. It’s a beautiful story about ponds in general but particularly focusing on the cause of the ripples on ponds. In the first three paragraphs of the story, a legend explaining the cause of the ripples is given. It’s the story of an unfortunate beautiful girl married to Buur-the-king. Her beauty surpasses all beauty in her time and she is lavished with all kinds of ornaments but she has no child. Her jealous co-wives, with the help of the king’s adviser, connive against her and accuse her of being a witch. This is proven by her inability to conceive as witches are believed to use their unborn babies to pay to their fellow witches. The king blindly believes this and furious, he asks the girl to be shaved, all her ornaments retrieved, and she is to be abandoned in the forest for the wild animals to eat. Out of pity, her pair of gold earrings will be left with her. Alone, she cries and cries and keeps crying until she is completely covered with tears. Those tears make a pond in which she is submerged. She is still crying and so the pond will never go dry. The shaking of her shoulders causes the ripples. It is believed that, at mid-morning, one sees her crying. However, whoever sees her crying in mid-morning, will die suddenly the same day.
This pond is in the heart of many villages where many people come to fetch water. In one of these villages call Kerr Mba, lives a woman. Her real name is Kordu Mboge but everyone call her Yai Kordu. She has no child but everybody’s child comes to her place. She plays with them and cooks for them. One particular child, an only child, turns out to be the only problem to Yai Kordu. Bai Modi is spoilt as his parents had several children but only Bai survived. It is believed this is due to the charms and the numerous sacrifices done that made Bai Modi stay. The child, however, is sullen. As almost all the families consider Yai Kordu as the mother of the village, they willingly bring their children to her and help her on the fish money, which she insistently refuses.
One day, a marabou arrives in the village and starts preaching about Allah. He stresses that sacrifices given in this world will be repaid in the here-after. A pond called the Pond of Kausara, awaits every believer. Crossing it successfully depends on how much good one does on this earth. Children who have died before or at birth will await the blessed and will lead them through the pond to eternal bliss. Yai Kordu sacrifices her most valuable item, a pair of gold earrings.
Several days later, Bai Modi leaves Yai Kordu’s place and goes to play elsewhere. He comes back later and eats, with reluctance, food kept for him by Yai Kordu. That night, Yai Kordu learns that Bai is seriously sick. The following day, she goes to visit him and greet the family. She receives a shocking reaction. Bai’s mother and grandmother refuse her access to Bai’s bed. To make it worse, they accuse her of witchcraft and insinuate that she gave Bai food to eat so as to sacrifice him to her witch friends, because she has sacrificed all her children before they were born. Yai Kordu feels so dejected and betrayed by the same people she has lived with for years. She rushes out of the house, runs out of the village, towards the forest. She keeps mumbling to herself over and over again that she is not a witch. She reveals her own children died in her womb before they even grew. That was not her fault she laments. In her hallucination, she keeps running again. She does not know where but her feet seem to know where to take her. To the pond. She arrives. The pond looks tempting. She wades through the pond up to the waist. It’s mid-morning. Something seems to be pulling her in the pond. Looking closer, she sees another woman in the pond, crying. As she looks closer, the lady turns and smiles at her. Yai Kordu gets a shock. Not only is the woman in the pond her double but she equally has her gold earrings. She smiles at her. Yai Kordu remembers she gave her earrings to the marabou. The one who talked of her unborn children helping the blessed cross the Pond of Kausara. Then she sees her double and some children running around her playing. The children look at her and smile, then she feels they are her children and she moves to touch them and falls.
The first person to come to fetch water will throw her calabash and run like hell. When everyone arrives to see what’s the problem, they find that the pond has stopped rippling – as if it’s at peace.
Mr Kujabi contributed a short story entitled The Fall Of The Witch Doctor. In a small village called Kubuneh, lives a witch doctor, Apamba, who terrorizes everyone. Every year he obliges the village to give him ten of their children as sacrifice so as not to have any flood. Where the children go, no one knows. One day, a famous hunter call Bala arrives at the village. Upon hearing this woeful tale, he tells the villagers that it’s not true and incites them to refuse to make the sacrifice that year. Apamba becomes furious, challenges Bala who turns out to be stronger and more cunning. Apamba escapes, his cave gets ravaged by the villages and gold found there seized. Apamba will later be found dead in a lake and the village finally lives peacefully. Offered a beautiful wife and showered with respect, Bala lives happily in the village.
Dr Lenrie Peters
Reflection Of A Beverage turns out to be a beautiful appraisal of palm wine. In the writer’s opinion:
Tapping for palm wine is the most hygienic form of milking known to man. To happen upon a hilltop in the bird noisy hours of morning and see a row of young palm trees with their bullies and bottles swaying gently in the wind in all their virgin breasted defiance drives one down to earth with a smack of childlike delight which defies analysis.
The wine in its making is untouched by hand and though it may contain the odd sizzled bee it never harbours toe nails or the dusts from peasant feet. Yet any industry quite so minimal in its production costs and so free of disputes deserves sacrifice and this the taper pays in coins of superstition. Thus certain trees are treated like prize bulls, their humours are respected, charms are laid at their feet, and their fallows days are hallowed.
Palm wine more than anything else truly reproduces the African personality. It is both gentle and virile; general and savage; sentimental. It is nevertheless a drink without conflicts, at once a symbol of negritude and its negation.
In this beautiful description of palm wine, the writer tries to sap from his experiences to put weight on the importance of the beverage and some of the fun it can bring. He further gives an insight into the ways of the palm wine bars. Here he gives the story of Pa Paul who frequents a bar called “Black Angel”. The writer narrates how, as a child, he frequents these bars so as to listen to Pa Paul’s stories. Pa Paul gives one of his famous stories. In a village call Kaulun, long time ago, a deadly illness strikes everyone and so the deaths get multiplying every other day. The oldest woman of the village, who is also dying of the illness, tells the villagers to go to the old man by the stream and get the palm wine from his compound. It will stop the illness. The house, however, has no door or window. The villagers decide to make a hole so as to see what is inside. By the time they finish the hole it is already dark. The oldest among the men decides to put his hand in first. As he put his hand inside, searching, he withdraws it suddenly with a scream and quickly hides it in his gown. Asked what the matter is, he replies that the bottle he held fell and broke. The second oldest also tries but no sooner has he got his hand inside the hole that he also suddenly withdraws it with a scream and hides it. He says he also dropped the bottle. The angry women say that the men are useless and then a fat woman comes forward and puts her hand in the hole to take the bottle. Hardly has her hand been inside, she withdraws it with a scream and falls rolling on the ground. Someone has her hand cut with an axe. The other two show their cut hands to everyone. What is the moral of the story? It is left for the reader to guess. When asked why the village disappeared, Pa Paul replies that there was no village in the first place.
Dr Peters concludes the story with: Yes. What wonderful dreams and cruel hangovers I have had with palm wine. Alas! The future for many Africans is to be Guinness all the way.