Salif Keita – Cono

Rediscovered this beautiful album after not hearing it for 30 years! Think my mum or step-dad had a cassette – the kind of thing we used to discover via Andy Kershaw’s show on Radio 1. I couldn’t find a decent translation, so I made one by typing up a French version from a 1980’s scrolling text video, running the French version through Google translate and tweaking the result. Trying with the Bambara original didn’t get me very far!

English translation

This is the call of which bird?
It is the bird of the queens of the river, what bird is it?
It is the bird that watches over the traveler
This is the cry of which bird
I follow the bird perch on the great cailcedrat tree
From the top of the mountain
I pierce the mysteries of the distance

The enemy has a mouth full of gall
will never say
good for you
I am the oracle bird
The bird of joy and well-being
Oh the world is turned upside down

large makes chairman
Poverty attracts nothing but contempt
Poor you will be unloved
Even though your words are beautiful

Even though your heart is good
Even if you seek refuge in discretion
The world is turned upside down

French translation

Cest le cri de quel oiseau?
C’est l’oiseau des reines du fleuve c’est le cri de quel oiseau?
Cest l’oiseau qui veille sur le voyageur
Cest le cri de quel oiseau 
Je sui le oiseau perche sur le grand cailcedrat tree
Du haut de la montagne
Je perce les mysteres du lointain
Lennemi a la bouche pleine de fiel
Ne dira jamais 
Du bien de vous Je suis l’oiseau oracle
Loiseau de la joie et du bien être
Oh le monde est sens desus dessous largen rend chairman 
La pauvreté n’attire plus que mépris
Pauvre tu seras le mal aime
Meme si tes paroles sont belles 
Meme si ton coeur est bon
Meme si tu cherches refuge dans la discretion
Le monde est sens dessus dessous 

Bambara original

(Excerpt – all I can find)

Cono djon lou kassi la?
Badala cono djon dou kayer
Cono djon lou kassi la?
Siradala cono djon lou kagner 
Cono djon lou kassi la? 
Koulou sanfai cono djon lou kagner 
Coyer cono, cono m′nalè moufô ne mana djoukou yala soro dela mou mandi djoucouyer? X2
Djoukou gna o gna mogo djoucou la mogo te gnoumafô ikô(ehh nadia cônô ehhh) 
Djoukou nou coumai mogo djoucoula môgô te gnouma fô ikô X2 
Koyer cono, cono m’nale mou fo nema djoukou yala soro tena mou mandi i djoukouyer X2
Ehh na digna cono ehhh 
Ohh dounia gna mina ohhh nadigna cono ehh 
Ni wari bi bolo, wari kailer sara