My Mandinka translation of the Short Obligatory Prayer

Mar 2019
27
Senegal
#1
Allah'u'Abha
Im not sure why but I felt compelled to translate the short obligatory prayer to the language I've been learning for the past two years, Mandinka. I live in a rural Mandinka community in central Senegal. I know English is the apparent universal language, but with consideration to unity through plurality, the individual languages should also be celebrated for their beauty and diversity of insight, and not be abandoned or go untaught, or thought of as less than global languages.

Near me is the border to The Gambia, a Mandinka-majority country. While maybe 98% of Mandinka people are Muslim, there is a Baha'i NSA in Serrekunda, Gambia that I plan to visit soon. They may not even consist of many Mandinkas, perhaps more Gambian Baha'i are Wolof, Jola, or other groups, but Mandinka is the lingua franca of Gambia along with English.

I did this out of curiosity and celebration of this language I've grown to love, and to practice my own skills, and for no other purpose that I know of yet.

I hope you enjoy. Perhaps the Baha'i of The Gambia have a better translation of this and more available there, but my guess is they just use English.

Pronounciation guide
'Ŋ' / 'ŋ' sound is a soft 'ng' as in ring, bring, singing.
Double letters signify a long syllable. E is 'ay' or 'é', and ee is thus a slightly longer 'ay'.
I is 'ee' as in breeze
A is 'ah'
O/oo - 'oh', double letter gives this syllable the emphasis

Ŋa a'seedeyaa, O nna Allah, I'ye n'dada woto mb'I'lonne aniŋ mb'I'batula. Ŋa a'seedeyaa, bii bii la, nna sembentaŋyaa aniŋ Ila Mansabaayaa, nna fuwaariyaa aniŋ Ila nafuloo.
Allah do te jee bari Ite damaŋ, Maakoyirilaa tana kono, Faŋ-Baluuraŋo

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2019
27
Senegal
#2
To continue this strange journey I'm on, I also have transcribed the prayer into the Nko Alphabet. It is a script invented in 1949 by Solomana Kante of Guinea to write languages in the Mandé family, it is read right to left and letters are connected at the bottom, as in Arabic. The similarities end there however.

It was devised after Souleymane Kante (son of a scholar and well versed in Arabic and French) became angered at a newspaper article in which a Lebanese man said Africans were a cultureless people and like birds because they had no literary languages or scripts. So he created N'ko, which means "I Say/Said"

"He went on to write nearly two hundred books in the new script, including a translation of the Quran, textbooks of physics and history, descriptions of traditional medicine, and books of poetry; his disciples carried on the task after his death, and the script has spread surprisingly widely, mainly in Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire."

It has spread to Bambara speakers in Mali as well. In my area, despite a 2018 symposium in The Gambia for N'ko, it is not common there, and certainly less so here in Senegal where Mandé speakers are a minority. I taught it to myself a while ago using online resources. I may be missing some accent marks but it's otherwise... Probably correct! Not that you all could tell anyways! Enjoy, it is a beautiful alphabet.

Baha'i Short Prayer
Bahayi Salo Sutuma
ߓߤߊߦߌ ߛߊߟߏ ߛߕߎߡߊ

ߒ߲ߊߵߛߋߘߍߦߊ߸ߏ ߣߊ ߊߟߊ߸ߌߦߋ ߒߘߊߘߊ ߥߕߏ ߡߓߋ ߌߟߏߣߋ ߊߣߌ߲ ߡߓߋ ߌߓߊߕߎߟߊ. ߒ߲ߊߵߛߋߘߍߦߊ߸ߓߌߓߌ ߟߊ߸ߣߊ ߛߍߡߓߍߣߕߊ߲ߦߊ ߊߣߌ߲ ߌߟߊ ߡߊߣߛߊߓߊ߮ߦߊ߸ߣߊ ߝߎߥߊߙߌߊ ߊߣߌ߲ ߌߟߊ ߣߊߝߎߟߏ. ߊߟߊ ߘߏ ߕߋ ߖߋ ߓߊߙߌ ߌߕߋ ߘߊߡߊ߲߸ߡߊߞߏߦߌߙߏ ߕߣߊ ߞߣߏ߸ߝߊ߲ ߓߊߟߎߙߊ߲ߏ

Ŋa a'seedeyaa, O na Allah, I'ye n'dada woto mbe I'lonne aniŋ mbe I'batula. Ŋa a'seedeyaa, bii-bii la, na sembentaŋyaa aniŋ Ila Mansabaayaa, na fuwaariyaa aniŋ Ila nafuloo.
Allah do te jee bari Ite damaŋ, Makoyiro tana kono, Faŋ-Baluuraŋo

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

Fun fact, in Mandinka, there are many less words than more specificity focused languages like English, making it a more expressive language with more metaphorical usages, and a single word can have several meanings.

One example used here is the verb "Batu" - To Wait, which is so also used for To Worship God. Interesting to consider worship as a kind of waiting, perhaps for reunion with God? Or putting the busy material world aside to wait upon God and spiritual matters. Waiting is a passive word so in the context of worship, it makes me also think of meditation, reflection, and submission.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2019
27
Senegal
#5
Yeah I presume he meant modern day black Africans, and probably did not recognize or care that ancient Egyptians were also that.
 

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