Now to recap one or two points before I put up the ‘video’ montage of our next Salia song. I’ve argued that the song that was published in translation almost sixty-one years ago was sung by Salia.
Versions: Quite naturally, there’re differences between the translated song published in 1948 and what I shall be putting up. But as I pointed out, that’s hardly surprising with Salia. There’s always some difference between various versions of Salia’s songs. I have in my possession two versions of The Flight from the Wonde. I have three versions of Mende Gendei, and I’m sure there’re more than three out there. This tells us that Salia, perhaps depending on the circumstances, could lengthen or shorten his compositions, combine and recombine certain elements of his songs. But in the main, the song remains the same across versions.
Translations: And now I’ve to tackle the question of translation. Overall, it’s unnecessary to argue whether Dr Little’s translation was good or bad; we don’t have the recording he did that day in 1947. Dr Little went for a loose, “free” translation. My translation has chosen to adhere as closely as possible to the patterns not only of the Mende language, but especially of Salia’s lyrical use of the same. But as the saying goes, “the translator is a traitor.” A 100% faithfulness is therefore out of the question.
Editor’s notes: In Little’s article, one of the footnotes was at pains to point out the similarities between that Mende song and Giovanni Bocaccio’s Decameron (1353), and Apuleius’s The Golden Ass (2nd century AD), among others. But of course, all Salia’s ballads are similar in “manner and incident” to the stories in The Decameron. As for Apuleius’s novel, you’d have to listen to the ballad “Blow, Jinna Mangoe, blow” to be actually blown away by Salia Koroma. When, in the future, I put up that song I shall try to draw the (very minor) similarities (and the great gap)between the story in The Golden Ass and the one in “Blow, Jinna Mangoe, blow.”