On the “Playing for Change” channel on Youtube is a recent sensation, a Malian singer, in the tradition of the griot, or “jeli-tche,” singing “Dunya.” “Dunya” in Bambara (the national language of Mali, with variants in Guinea and Senegal–Mandinka–and in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, called Dioula) and Arabic for “the world,” roughly understood as life and society as they are. There are many Mandinka, Bambara and Dioula songs under this title, often with a note of lament, faith, sorrow, hope and acceptance, not unlike some of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Though I had trouble understanding some phrases or words, here is my best effort at translating “Dunya,” which you can hear at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA7-dZhjJRQ&lcor=1&lc=LAjsgZ_HUvJSHLwM4rCblrJCqIbhvUjP3s9ea6xmnGw&lch=email_reply&feature=em-comment_reply_received

I welcome any corrections from those whose Bambara/Dioula is better than mine, especially from native Bambara speakers:

What is good? Even if you are good, some say…….

Who does not measure his end? [or know that he will die?]

That’s how the world is.

If you should be a king, leave the results to God.

If you should be a [government] minister, leave it to God,

If you should be a chief, leave it to God

If you were a poor person, leave it to God.

I said, that’s how the world is. Who knows how you shall end up?

I am suffering, indeed!

If you should be an imam, leave the results to God.

If you should be a student/disciple, leave it to God.

If you should be chief, leave it all up to God.

I said, that’s how the world is. No one knows how it will all turn out.

I say, Who really knows the world? They should explain it to me if they do. (3x)

If you are one who does not understand, even yet you know the cause (reason, source)

I say to you all, there is evil indeed…..

God has given them their just reward: for they did not confide themselves to God.

Who really understands God? None really know God.

Because when God made the world, He did not make it all peaceful.

As the Prophet said, It is all a fight.

The reason? The word of the Prophet says so.

My brothers and sisters, not all things are the same.

Not all the children born [of same parents] are the same.

Another person’s child is not anyone’s [your] child. (Bambara proverb, repeated numerous times at end of the song)


To that I add: Alla ka he-re ka nyi—May God give you peace.




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