Yiite ngen hubhii / The fire was lit

Yiite ngen hubhii (the fire was lit)
I dropped guilty almeeti (matches) on the damp earth
Keroona no kewta (the guitar resounds)
The night is burning, I set fire to the village

I have giilol (dizziness) the smoke stings my eyes
A sumoode (burn) has reached my shadow
I wander like feetudho (madman) between the fires
Pronouncing your name like a drunken yimoowo (singer)

I wrote about the sun and the moon for one hitannde (one year)
Then I waved the soaked paper before his eyes
Like a flag bleached by love,
O seeki kaydi ndin (he tore the paper)

I was the most literary-loving soldajo (soldier)
A thief of verses, I prostituted my ink, begged my art
Every morning a sonndu (bird) came to wake me up
Splashing me with drops of fresh dew

Friends, I only saw his reflection in my mirror!
But I heard the voice of those who know him
Bimmbi e kiikiidhe hibhe jantoo innde makko nden (day and night they praise his name)
And all I have left are ink-stained hands

I set fire to the inked night, I want to extinguish the annoora (light) of poetry
Friend, jooni ko tuuru maa (now it is your turn) to write,
My hand shakes and waqutu on heewii (it is time for prayer)
A jawre (deer) laughs at my misery from the tall grass

The dayhe (roots) of passion are deep
I picked fulerji (flowers) by an old tree
The sky smelled of guava, cassava and ginger
The fresh wind brought petals to my cheeks

My friends who hold my body in your hands,
Koni aree yahen, jemmii! (Get up and let’s go, it’s getting dark!)
I was the most literary-loving soldajo (soldier)
I wrote about the sun and the moon for a hitannde (a year)

Then I waved the soaked paper before his eyes
O seeki kaydi ndin (he tore the paper)
I would love this sky if it were without hoodere (stars)
Let the darkness make me disappear

But yiite ngen hubhii (the fire was lit)
I dropped guitly almeeti (matches) on the damp earth
I burned the village of my ancestors
For the paper to fly away and blacken the weeyo (wind)

Take me away from here, the ndiyan (rain) is starting to fall
I don’t want any trace of paper to be found
The dayhe (roots) of passion are deep
I set fire to the inked night, I want to extinguish the annoora (light) of poetry

I waved the soaked paper before his eyes
O seeki kaydi ndin (he tore the paper)
I would love this sky if it were without hoodere (stars)
I want the darkness to make me disappear

My friends, I only saw his reflection in my mirror!
You who hold my body in your hands,
Koni aree yahen, jemmii! (Get up and let’s go, it’s getting dark!)
Yiite ngen hubhii (the fire has been lit)

Author’s note: Sometimes spelled Peulh and also called Fulfulde or Pular (Pulaar; in ADLaM: 𞤆𞤵𞤤𞤢𞥄𞤪), is the mother tongue of the Peul and related ethnic groups, and also a second language used in West Africa especially as a lingua franca by other African ethnic groups. Fulani is spoken by about 35 million people. (Wikipedia)

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