Epic Song of Biffeche

 Griots are semi-sacred singers of a special form of oral history that is handed down through the centuries in their music.  The following is the most famous of the epic songs of the Kingdom of Biffeche.  Along with a wealth of history it also relates the origins of the Biffeche war cry "walk backwards Barak Waalo!"

In the garden, Adam had no troubles.

Every day was the same, with no troubles.

Adam had a wife named Hauwa [Eve].

Their bodies were naked and beautiful.

There was also a snake with great powers.

That snake was immortal and it still lives today.

The snake lives in Africa.  It has many names.

The Sreer know about the snake.

 

Everyone knows that the snake told the secrets to Hauwa [Eve].

Then Hauwa told the secrets to Adam.

Then Allah Al Alim [the All-Knowing] said Get out.

And Adam and Hauwa left the garden, and the snake left the garden too.

The snake, he lost his legs.

But they are still inside him, as little bones.

As Adam and Hauwa left the garden, they whispered to the snake:

Thank you. The road ahead is interesting.

The snake said Roog will hear you.

Because the snake was older than Adam and Hauwa [Eve].

Let us go to Biffeche. It is almost as good.

 

All the descendants of Adam and Hauwa want a place like the garden.

They like rivers with fish, hills of sand, palm trees and gui.

They like green fields between rivers, just like the garden.

They like wise bours [kings] and happy people.

They all want to live in Biffeche.

They want to have no troubles.

They want djam.

 

Later, when No [Noah] got drunk, he cursed his son Aam.

But all of Nos three sons were good.

Aam was good, Sem was good, and Ibn No was good.

So Nos curse was foolish.

Drunk people do foolish things.

No lived 950 years and saved us all from the flood.

People who do foolish things may also do wise things.

 

Aam was black. Ibn No [Japheth] was toubab. Sem was brown.

They are all the same family.

We dont know the color of No and his wives.

They all liked to sing and dance.

Aam had the best legs and was the best dancer.

Ibn No had the best hair. Ibn Nos hair looked like gold.

Sem had the best eyes.

All three races are beloved of Allah Tabaraka [the Most High].

 

Then later came Misrae who was the uncle of the Fula

and all the Sreer and the Waalo-Waalo and the Tukolor.

His sister was also their ancestor, by a different line.

Another line came from Jordan, the place of black people.

They crossed the Nile River, and came into our country.

The Naar in Biffeche are descended from Sem and Misrae.

The American kings are descended from Ibn No and Faridarish,

and Bour Charlemagne too.

Toubabs sent by Allah to us, their cousins in Africa.

They come from the city of Saint-Louis in America.

They dont come from the city of Saint-Louis here called Ndar.

The Halpulaar love their cousins the Sreer.

The Sreer used to be masters of Biffeche many centuries ago.

Then people of the North drove them away, like an evil wind.

Then the Sreer made many great kingdoms in the South.

including Sine, Keguem, Baol and Saloum.

And the Ndut were wise and powerful, with the bravest warriors.

In 1960 the Sreer returned to Biffeche from the south, like a good wind.

But I will mention that later.

The snake followed the Sreer and appeared in many places.

The Waalo-Waalo live around Biffeche, of course.

There are not many Lamtoro here, a few Naar, and only one Italien [Italian].

Al Akbar [the powerful one] can send us kings from different groups and families.

Peulh, Sreer, Bagana, Toubab American, Bampoleur,

or from the rich land far east of Fouta Djallon,

where the sweet water comes from.

But we never had a bour italien [Italian king] of Biffeche.

No, never even in the infinite memory of Allah.

 

At night some hyenas came into the village of Nguyanguet to do harm.

There was a bad noise that everyone heard.

A Fula from Maka dropped her baby in the wet sand by the river.

She did not mean to do it. The hyenas were running behind her.

After the noise stopped, people listened, but it was quiet the rest of the night.

Except for the cries of the sad mother.

In the morning the people went out to look.

The hyenas were all dead, torn in many pieces.

The people looked for the babys dead body.

But the baby was alive nearby and sleeping in the wet sand.

Beside the baby there was a paw print in the wet sand.

It was not a hyenas print. The paw print was big. It was the paw print of a leopard.

The mother was full of joy and took her baby away.

She took the baby back to Maka.

You know that

a Fula loves her children more than jewels and gold.

The people of Nguyanguet looked at the paw print all day.

 

Later in Gambar the people heard of this and they were afraid.

At night they saw a Great White Leopard walking silently in the open land.

It rarely makes a noise. It never harms the Biffeche-Biffeche.

The same thing happened in many villages.

The Great White Leopard had surely protected that baby from hyenas.

 

Biffeche had many different rulers.

From many different dynasties, families and lamanes.

But all of them got no trouble from the leopard.

Only djam. Only djam.

The leopard might come in daytime and the leopard might come at night.

Or he might not come at all.

He is so powerful, he comes whenever he wants.

Those who cause trouble at night, be careful.

The leopard may cross the water

Surrounding the Isle de NTieng.

 

The well of our history has no bottom.

You can always reach deeper and find great things.

The river of the long history of Biffeche has no source.

Not even Fouta Djallon! ---- Im only joking.

Long ago, every king of Biffeche had a king before him.

And that king had a king before him. And again and again.

Always. This is the true meaning of linfintitude. [francais]

But we also had a few queens, and times of hidden kings.

The water of River Sngal is really the same water as the River Nile

and the River Missouri too.

All water in the world eventually flows through Biffeche.

 

A Biffeche-Biffeche girl was bathing alone in the marigot.

She was already very clean.

The sun was setting and dark was coming.

Then she stood in the wet sand and rubbed oil all over her body.

The Biffeche-Biffeche are as beautiful as Hauwa [Eve].

A crazy man was hiding in the water watching her.

You know who he was.

He was Njaajaan the Waalo-Waalo who was crazy in the river.

Grandson of Umar.

Someday he would be king of all Jolof

when it still included Waalo.

He started to approach her, and she said Stop, and go away!

But she continued to rub the oil on her body.

You know that

a Tukolor or a Waalo-Waalo is very proud.

You know that

a Biffeche-Biffeche is very beautiful.

And a Tukolor or a Waalo-Waalo loves beauty.

As he rose from the water she could see him.

She could see that he admired her.

But she continued to rub the oil.

You know that

a Biffeche-Biffeche likes to be admired.

But then she said, Stop. You are too hairy.

You have hair all over you except for your eyes and your palms.

You know that

a Tukolor or a Waalo-Waalo is hot-tempered.

When Njaajaan heard these words

He got in a terrible rage.

He disliked his hairiness and was ashamed.

He grabbed some stones.

He grabbed some sticks.

He grabbed some fish from the water. Allah gave him the power to do that.

He started to throw them at her.

This girl, she had no hair on her body except on her head.

Who are you, you oily girl? he demanded.

We in Biffeche do not talk to crazy hairy fools

who live with the bottom-fish.

Then he ran toward her in the sand.

We dont know what was in his heart, but we can guess.

She stood motionless and tall, dripping oil on the sand.

Suddenly, just as his right hand reached for her, the Great White Leopard was silently there between them.

Njaajaan stopped in total fear and amazement.

The leopard looked at Njaajaan for a long time.

The leopard was silent, but Njaajaan heard these words inside his head:

She is not yours. Your true name is Aydara.

Njaajaan walked backwards toward the marigot, taking backward steps.

The girl handed him the oil and said Use it yourself, Aydara.

Secretly, Aydara was his true name indeed.

He walked using backward steps until he was in the water.

The leopard did not move.

Njaajaan Njaay returned to the deep water.

He was a good swimmer, and would not drown.

As Njaajaan watched them, the girl and the leopard walked away into the brousse.

After that time, Njaajaan knew as king of Waalo that Biffeche could not be his.

For centuries later, the rulers of Biffeche could say:

Walk backwards, Barak Waalo.

until there were no more bours [kings] in Waalo.

Allah Al-Qayyuum [the Caretaker/Guide] decreed

Biffeche shall have bours [kings] until the end of time.

Yes, that is such a long time.

Yes, that is so many bours!

Biffeche is beloved of Allah Tabaraka. [the most high]

Four families ruled in Waalo.

The Djeuss family, the Tedyek, the Logar and the Bethio.

The first three ruled over northwestern Waalo.

They started with Njaajaan, grandson of Umar.

But the fourth family ruled Bethio, and the Poum part of Biffeche.

We honor the Djeuss family in Biffeche, who were originally Sreer.

We call our central river, at our capital, Mboubne,

Marigot de Djeuss to honor this family.

We always honor the Prince Bethio from Ross-Bethio.

The French built the city of Ndar. But they call it Saint-Louis.

Gouverneur Faidherbe said he himself was king of Waalo.

But he was no true king. His kings were in France.

Gouverneur Faidherbe was really only king of guns.

Walk backwards, Barak Waalo.

 

The ruler Maysamaramu had a great horse.

He rode all around on his horse.

But for a king, Maysamaramu said a camel is best.

In Biffeche the camels carry the kings.

We used to get the royal camels from the Tukolor.

Our new king from America should ride the camel.

Why has King Ronald not ridden a camel?

King Ronald sometimes rides an elephant in America.

Are the Tukolors camels not big enough for Ronald?

Are the Tukolors camels not big enough for our king?

 

The Tukolor brought Holy Quran to the valley.

There were umma in Biffeche before the Kingdom of Waalo.

Now we have great scholars here, and a school at our capital.

In those days there were the old spirits.

Pangool was understood by the people.

In fact, it is still understood by some people today.

We did things here that are not done in other places.

Strange people would not understand.

But our policy does not violate Sura 4. [of Holy Quran]

The Ceernos and Imams of Biffeche are holy.

They know some things that other people do not know.

There were no Christians in Biffeche then.

Except maybe emissaries from the east.

No Talib, no Xaadir, no Tidjan, no Mouride.

These came later to Sngambie.

 

There were years of sorrow, when our villages were raided.

Our houses burned, and our people were taken as slaves.

All the trouble came from the North.

From Ganaar of course.

We did not join the Jogomay.

We did not kiss the feet of the Barak Waalo.

We did not accept the mulk [Arabic for sovereignty] of Waalo or of France.

It is written, almighty Allah is the Maliku Mulk [Arabic for Sovereign of Sovereignty].

We in Biffeche have no need for the sword.

Were protected by the Lord.

Our king has no master

Except for Allah Tabaraka. [the Most High].

Allah made him be our king.

 

For a while [a period of time], our kings lived at Maka.

When they were called Barak Biffeche.

Maka was our capital, then.

But now it has fallen away.

And Mboubne is our capital, now.

They think only of the barriage [French for dam] at Maka.

 

In Biffeche we wear the cap of blue and white.

Blue and white makes us love our kings.

And the caps keep our heads warm.

When our old men sit and talk

They wear the caps of Biffeche in Blue and White

And get the wisdom of Bour [King] Edward,

And all the wise bours [kings] before him.

 

Baron Roger and his servant Richard came to our land.

He came from France and he was our good friend.

His great palace is still at Richard-Toll.

We honor the name of Roger, who made a great palace.

We honor the name of Richard, who made a beautiful garden.

They wanted to make the Sngal Valley a paradise.

But then they went back to France.

Later the french let the garden and the palace be ruined.

The french and the snugals let goats eat in the garden.

We dont know why.

In Dakar they do not honor Baron Roger as we do.

Our king has gone to Richard-Toll.

King Ronald went inside Rogers palace.

Goats are eating Richards garden today.

But the Sngal Valley will become a paradise.

In Biffeche, at least.

 

Gouverneur Faidherbe did three good things.

First he stopped Brakna and Trarza from burning our houses and taking us as slaves.

The Barak and the Damel did not protect us.

They did not love us enough for that.

The second thing he did was to learn our languages and teach us French..

Our educated people love the French tongue.

The third thing he did was to put the bridge at Ndar.

This makes it faster for us to visit Ndar.

He found the bridge in Allemagne [Germany].

But he was no true king.

You know that

A Frenchman always says he knows the best way.

And sometimes he does know it.

 

The Prince Bethio moved from Poum to Ndombo.

His old siege of Poum re-joined Biffeche.

Bethio is truly our brother.

Prince Bethio did not accept the Barak Waalo as his king.

The Prince Bethio was sovereign.

But he let Faidherbe and France control things.

And sometimes Prince Bethio helped the Barak Waalo.

But Maalixuri was the greatest Prince Bethio.

He told the Barak Waalo to jump into the water.

Later, Prince Bethio moved to Ross.

So now we call it Ross-Bethio.

Where is he today?

If he comes to Biffeche we will honor him.

 

Another bour [king] lives today near Louga in Sngal.

At the town of Daara Jolof.

Dakar will not honor Bour Jolof properly.

Sngal does not remember who was great in Jolof.

This is a shame on the modern officials.

If he comes to Biffeche, we will honor him as our kings brother.

But we will not obey him as a son obeys a father.

We have our own father.

 

Far away in Mont-Roland were many villages of the Ndut.

The Ndut are Sreer with special powers.

They are Christian but they have Pangool too.

They went there from Biffeche centuries ago,

To live by lake Tanma.

They left behind their favorite cousins, the Fula.

to remain in Biffeche with the Waalo-Waalo and the Tukolor.

The Ndut had the greatest heroes,

but they had no king outside Biffeche at that time.

The greatest hero of all was Njawoor Ciss.

He died and was buried but he came back to intervene.

Grandfather Njawoor climbs right out of his tomb if he is dissatisfied.

Grandfather Njawoor will scold the Sreer-Ndut people if they do wrong.

That is why they do things right.

Many fondateurs [French for founders] of Biffeche,

Are of the family of Ciss.

 

Senghor went to France and they respected him.

Not a scholar of the Quran, but a general scholar.

He tasted dark wine and then white wine.

He is a Sine-Sine who wrote about his language.

Then he made Sngal independent.

He made Mauritanie independent too, but they dont say it.

He is a friend of Christian Sreer in Mont-Roland.

In 1960 Senghor and the priests sent the Sreer back to Biffeche

After many centuries in the South,

To start farming there again with their good cousins.

They went to found Biffeche-Ville.

Today we call it Mboubne.

And today we call them les Fondateurs.

But the water at Biffeche-Ville was salty.

You want to spit it out.

The soil got bad, and salt was on the ground.

The Sreer were promised a tractor.

How many promises are kept in Africa?

This has been our shame.

Life was hard in Biffeche-Ville for the Sreer.

They did not have the customs of the Fula.

They did not have the animals of the Fula.

They could not speak Pulaar.

And they could not find their new bour [king].

Allah Al Qayyuum [the Caretaker/Guide] decreed

Biffeche shall have bours [kings] until the end of time.

Gun Kokaax Ween Tn was not in Biffeche.

We dont know about him.

 

In Saint-Louis, America,

Some people heard that the Biffeche-Biffeche might starve.

They were kind to us and sent zakat.

The Sreer were Christians at Biffeche-Ville.

They were missing the kings wisdom in their time of need.

They asked Who in Biffeche should be our king now?

The priest said Who has helped you most? Make him king.

But could we ask him to be king?

You can ask Allah to make him king.

The person who had helped us most was not Sreer.

He was not Fula or Waalo-Waalo or Tukolor or Naar.

He was not a snugal or mauritanien.

He was not even french.

He was the american Edward Schafer who ruled the committee.

The committee that helped the Biffeche-Biffeche.

The committee that sent us money when we were poor.

The committee that saved us from starvation and disaster.

Do you know who told Edward about Biffeche?

It was the Naar woman of America, Henriette Bulus.

You know that

the Naar can make successful arrangements.

Twelve men of Biffeche-Ville, the twelve founders of Biffeche-Ville,

Talked of many things in their highest council.

Almighty Allah, Allah Al Dhal-Jalali Wal Ikram [Lord of Majesty Glory and Honor], put the decision in them:

Edward shall be our king.

They performed the old rituals of Biffeche.

They gathered the seeds and said the words, using the powers of the Ndut.

The Ndut women bathed in the marigot and were clean.

They got the sacred skins and the royal seeds.

They sent the message to Edward in America, and made him king.

Edward was far from Biffeche, but he could be king.

In America, Father Timothy the royal priest, an anglais en amerique [Englishman in America], put the blessing of Allah on Bour Edward le premier [the first].

 

Bour Edward loved his kingdom, but Allah never sent him here.

Edward sent money and advice on our crops that we were growing.

He represented Biffeche in America, and to the whole world.

He was known in America as the wise king of Biffeche.

The Arqueveque Cardinale [Cardinal-Archbishop] called him

King, by the grace of God. [English]

which means Bour, grace a Dieu [French] in that country.

Edward owned a television station, and had a radio show.

Cousin of toubab kings and queens,

descended from emperors in Allemagne and Autriche [Germany and Austria].

We had an important land, with a great king in America.

Some mauritaniens said we were poor, but did they have such a king?

Some snugals said we were poor, but did they have such a king?

Walk backwards, Barak Waalo.

We loved our Edward, even though

it was not Allahs will to send him to live in our keurs [compounds].

Musulman and Christian honor him, though he was only a Christian.

Today, we all honor his royal tomb at Savoigne.

colored blue and white.

 

King Edward never saw the gui,

King Edward never saw the rivers,

King Edward never saw the hills or the beauty of our land.

We told him only in letters. He was king by mail, just as Allah wanted it to be.

Edward never could rest with us and play with our babies.

Sadly, he had no children to be our future Princes.

If Edward had come to Biffeche, he would have had a herd of children.

You know that,

the Biffeche-Biffeche are beautiful.

Some important people became nobles of our land.

We honored them and King Edward rewarded them.

Our king rewards those who do good things.

He made nobles here, including Baron Faye, as Allah wanted.

And Edwards mother; we never forget Princess Joan.

We call one toundou: Joania.

Someday nobles will build great villas here.

We shall be called the STUPOR MUNDI [latin for amazement of the world],

better than all Africa.

And dont forget that

all descendants of Adam and Hauwa [Eve] want a place like Biffeche.

 

Far away in the city of Saint-Louis, America,

every year, the royal court of Biffeche met in splendor.

Great knights, big men, and rich men, kneeled before our king.

Great ladies dressed in finest robes kneeled before our king.

They met to honor, guide and help us.

They made Biffeche famous in America.

And we deserved this fame.

 

All the 35 years that our Edward was away,

We waited for him, but he could never come.

We had help from him,

and from the other city we love.

LaFert -Mac, the glory of Normandie.

The jewel of France and conqueror of Angleterre [England].

They named a mighty boulevard: Rue de Savoigne-Biffeche.

Where cars drive every day.

So we are well-known to the french people of Normandie.

 

King Edward arranged for us, his people

to build a big long ditch

to clear the salt from the fields in the rains.

But then the Sreer people moved to Savoigne

near a high point of Biffeche, on old Toundou Mpolo.

and Fula lived in houses at Biffeche-Ville.

Every year we make Mboubne better.

We built a fine mosque at Savoigne,

the town most favored by Allah.

With King Edward Iers consent,

the french paid the snugals to build a longer dike,

near the kingdoms northern border along the river.

It is a giant work of many strong men.

 

In 1989 there were times of sorrow for Mauritanie and Sngal.

Men forgot they were brothers, and did wrong things.

The trouble started about a camel on an island in the river.

But this was not in Biffeche.

 

Click here:  Continued