Donso Dana - Bwa / Bwaba - Balafoonritmes - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon

Donso Dana

New English version on 12 May 2020

DDonso Dana or Dana Donso is a hunter’s rhythm from the Bwaba. The story behind it: Dana was once the only hunter in a Bwaba village and therefore the only one who supplied wild meat to the village. He always asked the “Chef de Village” which meat to hunt. Apparently the chief liked variety, and so successively an elephant, a lion, a gazelle, a buffalo and so on were hunted. But the animals from the forest were also not crazy and moved further and further into the forest and hunting became increasingly difficult for Dana.
One day, the “Chef de Village” asked for a Hyena. So Dana set out to hunt a hyena. After a long journey, he eventually found a sick and hungry male, he shot and skinned it. Normally he took the whole animal with him, but now he decided to leave the skin and head behind. But when he got back to the village, the chief didn’t believe it was a hyena. “Only when I see the head and skin do I believe it is a hyena; we don’t eat it! ”. Dana went out to pick it up but he also found the (pregnant) female of the killed hyena. She was crying. Dana tried to pull the trigger again but was unsure and asked the hyena why she was crying. “You killed my husband, and shoot me, then I will be rid of my grief.” “No,” said Dana, “I just want to take your husband’s skin and head with me.” She didn’t want that, “I want to mourn here.”

The skin and the head

Dana told him to bring something or he would be expelled from the village. He suggested that he never shoot a hyena again if he could bring the head and skin. She said, “You should make a whistle from the head / skin and blow it to warn you are on the hunt.” Dana went to work but he did not succeed, he needed (he thought) another animal to make a flute. The hyena woman, however, made it a condition that he had to make it on the spot. He shot a deer and picked up the receiver and went to work. Only after he dug a hole for the hyena to throw the young. After the throw, he blew the whistle. The hyena warned the little ones, “That’s the sound of the hunter who killed your father.” Dana returned to the village and told the chief the story. But the chief didn’t believe it again, and Dana had to go back into the woods to get the killed deer. (moral: with only one hunter, the work and the questions never end).
Another hunting day

One day he went hunting again, but on the way he became seriously ill and could not return. A turtledove saw it hiding under a tree. Dana said, “I can’t kill you now because I’m sick.” The turtledove asked not to shoot him if he arranged a medicine. That was agreed. The pigeon said that the bark of the tree under which he was sitting is the right medicine. Dana used it and got well and returned to the village. Meanwhile, a new chef had come: the son of the previous (deceased) chef. The village sages had refused to die until Dana had returned.

Dana said that he had not brought any meat, but “the flesh of the tree”, a medicine that had been designated by the turtledove. The turtledove is a special bird, because it is not afraid of humans. Seeing a turtledove is considered an omen; both good and bad.
The chief said that from now on he should also bring medicines from the forest. Since then, the hunters have also become plant connoisseurs and medicine halters. They also never hunt birds in that tradition. Dana had also saved his own life with this approach.

Bi naa, Sahoui sounoun wa Bi naa wa Banza
Bi naa nagnou sounoun wa bi naa wa Tyoza
Bi naa, Sahoui sounoun wa Binaa wa Banza
Bi naa Dan yuo Sounoun wa bi naa wa Banza

“I made a flute from the skin of the hyena and the deer. With my whistle I enter the “brous” (Savanna forest) and warn the animals. The birds are not afraid of the flute; they whistle themselves too! They stay in the trees and tell me which plants to use ”. (Diarra = lion, Nagnou = deer, antelope, gazelle, Sahoui = hyena, Dan yuo = felines, Banza = flute)

A mi wé lo Donso Dana a-ah, Dana va moin
A mi wé nyanama mine Dosso, Dana va wa moin
Dana va ho moin a yo douma, moin Dana va moin

Hey, that brave Dana the hunter, he went into the savanna (“brous”)
The hunter who hunts and finds the living animals
Dana went out, but he is sleeping (he was ill!), But not forever.
(nyanama mine dosso = he who chases the living animals)
(No melody is played of the second song (a verse, really).)

sources:

Youssouf Keita & Hakiri Koita, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, January 2020

Update history
  • 12 May 2020: English and French translations added
  • 12 May 2020: More text informatiojn
  • 17 February 2020: New, Dutch version!
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