RETURN OF THE KOGHI
The sun was about to set in the dry woodlands. The harmattan wind was blowing, carrying with it clouds of sand and dust from the desert that gave the sky an orange tint. The drought and the dust had made the trees and the grass turn yellow and red. Some trees who had already lost all their leaves were now covered in bright scarlet flowers. It was as if a very hot autumn had settled in the Kweni country.
Chief Zamblé bi Gowa was sitting in front of the house where he slept, in the wide yard among his other houses and granaries. It had been a hard day's work in the yam field, working with the hoe. He was not so young anymore, his back was aching. Washing with cold water from his big clay watertank had made him some good. He was there, watching the birds flying here and there in the nearby trees. In front of him, the women went by in long ranks, carrying big buckets and jars of water on their head. They were going back and forth from the nearby pond to fill the watertanks and back to the pond. The dark skin of their bare chests, shoulders and arms was glistening from the spilled water, while their damp long skirts stuck to their thighs.
A big noise was heard from behind the trees. It grew louder, into the voices of many men, with the bellowing of beasts and the whining of horses. Young men came running to the chief, while the women deposited their jars on the ground and went in excitement in the direction from where the noise was coming, children following them, scaring dogs and chicken away. The whole village resounded with one echo, one chant : « Kooooghi ! Kooooghi ! Kooooghi w'o da ! Kooooghi w'o da ! »
The local griot, Loru bi Golu, came hurriedly, carrying his ceremonial rattle-staff, and took his seat at the right of his chief. The chief, in the meanwhile, had gotten up and changed clothes in his house. The arrival of their old allies was not a suprise : a swift mounted messenger had already come several days before to warn of their arrival. Now sitting on his ceremonial stool in his most colourful robe and his traditional red hat, chief Zamblé waited for the newcomers.
As there was no obvious large avenue in the village leading to his house, the war troop had to ride around several village houses before getting there. The riders, noblemen from the North carrying the red and gold banner of the King of Kings, dismounted nearby, leaving their horses in the shade.
Their leader came mounted on a fierce monoceros, a terrific beast with a huge, heavy horn like a tree trunk on its nose, sustained only by the beast's powerful neck. The animal was covered under a quilted pelt reinforced by leather patches and iron plates nailed directly into his powerful body, criss-crossed by strings of talismans and amulets, including worn out parchment covered in script. Sitting astride the monster's hunched back was a fierce-looking warchief, a kêlêtigi, carrying long iron swords on his side, as well as the beautifully carved bow that was the mark of his rank and status.
The leader was helped down by an aide who carried a small ladder for him. The monoceros was tied to a large tree, just like the three huge burden beasts, big slumbering mammals with a very thick brown hide and a disproprotionately small head compared to their big size and large feet. The animals were guarded by a few warriors while the children were watching and singing around them, with the women and a growing crowd of curious villagers standing behind and around, looking either afraid or wondered, chatting excitedly among each other and clapping their hands in joy.
The warchief came forth, surrounded by his escort, all black men from the North. Chief Zamblé watched their handsome, proud faces. True Northerners, with their long, thin noses, their small, beautifully narrow eyes, their square chins, their thick beards. He recognized some of the traditional scarifications on their cheeks. One was of them was obviously a Nyakaran. That thought made him smile – at least, he'd have some fun. The men were sweating heavily under their quilted armours, turbans and iron helmets, covered in dust. The warleader, still standing there, was greeting him. Fortunately, chief Zamblé knew enough Koghian to understand what was going on.
Russian Translation Coordinator
GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand YoungFirst T9A player in West Africa
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