mardi 24 mars 2015

Hildegarde von Bingen [Women's History Month]

Briefmarke: Hildegard von Bingen (Nonne, Mystikerin)
Image: Briefmarken-Bilder.de

Elle était musicienne et peintre, abbesse et prophétesse, médecin et scientifique, linguiste et femme politique même. J'ai le grand plaisir et honneur de vous parler aujourd'hui de l'une des figures féminines de l'époque médiévale qui a le plus marqué son temps... et qui inspire de nos jours encore nombre d'entre nous!
She was a musician and a painter, abbess and prophetess, doctor/healer and scientist, linguist and even political woman. I have the great pleasure and honor today to talk to you about one of the most reknown feminine figure of the Middle Age... and who even nowadays inspire many people!

HILDEGARDE VON BINGEN


Sa vie est plutôt bien connue et ses oeuvres l'ont élevées au rang de Docteur de l'Eglise Catholique. Je vous résume ici rapidement sa biographie (sources multiples, dont wikipedia).
Her life is relatively well known and her works made her a Doctor of the Catholic Church. I will here quickly resume her biography (multiple sources, like this article).

Née en 1098 à Bermersheim vor der Höhe (Hesse rhénane) d'une famille de notables du Palatinat, ses parents l'envoient très tôt au couvent des bénédictines de Disibodenberg (à 8 ans) car elle faisait preuve d'une grande maturité spirituelle et même de visions. Ce fait restera tout de même secret la moitié de sa vie.
Born in 1098 in Bemersheim vor der Höhe (Rhein Hessen) in a notable family of the Palatinat, her parents sent her very soon in the benedictine closter of Disibodenberg (at 8 years old) because she was very mature on a spiritual level and had visions. This fact stayed secret for half of her life.

Elle prend le voile vers 14 ou 15 ans et devient abbesse à 38 ans.Cinq ans plus tard, dans une vision, elle reçoit l'ordre de Dieu de consigner par écrit toutes les visions qu'elle a reçu et recevra. Ce qui ne fut pas chose évidente pour elle. Ses doutes la feront tomber malade et son obéissance la guérira. De même lorsqu'elle voudra fonder un couvent indépendant après une révélation (celui de Disibodenberg étant double et les moniales sous la dépendance de l'abbé), le refus de l'abbé la plongera dans un état proche de la catatonie. Lorsque celui-ci viendra pour la faire sortir de son lit (peut-être croyait-il qu'elle jouait la comédie... elle était une femme avec un caractère fort!), il se rendra compte de son état de santé et accordera enfin son autorisation de créer un nouveau couvent, ce qui la fit guérir rapidement.
She took the veil at age 14 or 15 and became the abbess at 38 years old. Five years later, in a vision, she recieved the mission from God to record all her visions she had already received and will receive in the future. And it was not an easy feat for her. She became ill with all her doubts and her obedience to the instruction of God healed her. The same will happen when after another revelation she wanted to found a new closter (the one of Disibodenberg was a double closter and the nuns were under the supervision of a abbot), and the abbot's refusal sent her into a near catatonic state. When he came to raised her from her bed (perhaps he thought she was just "playing" the illness... she had a strong personnality after all!), he saw for himself that she was not faking and granted her the right to create a new closter only for women. That healed her quickly.

Hildegarde von Bingen, peinture de Janet Goodchild (source)

Elle n'alla pas loin, juste à quelques kilomètres, pour fonder avec une vingtaine de nonnes le couvent de Rupertsberg à Bingen, en 1150. En 1165, son rayonnement est tel qu'elle doit créer un deuxième couvent, à Eibingen de l'autre côté du Rhin, dans les bâtiments d'un ancien couvent augustin qu'elle fera rénover. Elle finira ses jours à Rupertsberg le 1 septembre 1197, après avoir écrit de nombreux traités et avoir conseillé de grandes figures politiques de l'époque.
She didn't go far to build the closter of Rupertsberg in Bingen in 1150. And in 1165, her radiance was such that she founded a second monastery in Eibigen, on the other side of the Rhein, in an old building that was once an augustin closter and that she renoved. She finished her life in Rupertsberg the 1st September 1197, after having written many books and advised several great figures of her time.


La femme spirituelle: prophéties pour son temps et pour le nôtre.
The spiritual woman: prophecies for her time and ours.
Elle a été reconnue le 7 octobre 2012 "Docteur de l'Eglise" par le pape Benoît XVI, et même si il n'y avait pas eu de canonisation en "bonne et dûe forme" (elle a été par contre béatifiée), son nom avait été ajouté au martyrologe romain et avait été reconnue formellement "Sainte" en mai 2012. 
The 7th october of 2012, she has been named as "Doctor of the Church" by the Pope Benedict XVI and even if her canonization wasn't done in due form (she was however counted as a Blessed one), her name had been written in the roman martyrologue and she has been recognized at "Saint" in May 2012.

Non seulement Hildegarde était une grande connaisseuse des textes bibliques, mais elle possédait également un don de prophétie qui fut reconnu de son vivant, notamment par le Pape Eugène II lors du synode de Trèves (entre la fin 1147 et le début 1148).
Not only Hildegarde had a great knowledge of the biblical texts, but she also possessed a prophetic gift that has been acknowledged in her lifetime, in particular by the Pope Eugene II during the synode of Trèves (held between the end of 1147 and the beginning of 1148).

Comme indiqué ci-dessus, elle avait des visions dès son plus jeune âge. De 1141 à 1151, elle consigne à l'aide de son confesseur et scribe, le moine Volmar, ce qu'elle nommera le Scivias seu Visionnes. C'est son premier recueil de visions (26 en tout, 600 pages imprimées et plus de 150 000 mots), les deux suivants étant le Liber vitae meritorum et De operatione dei, également connu sous le nom Liber divinorum operum. 
As told above, she had visions from a young age. Between 1141 and 1151, she recorded with the help of her confessor and scribe, the monk Volmar, what she will called the Scivias seu Visionnes. It's her first collection of visions (26 visions, 600 written pages and more than 150 000 words), the two next being the Liber vitae meritorum and the De operatione dei, also known as the Liber divinorum operum.



From: Amazon.com

De nombreux théologiens et chercheurs se sont penché sur ces textes. Voici le résumé du livre de Pierre Dumoulin, Hildegarde de Bingen. Prophète et docteur pour le troisième millénaire, qui étudie principalement les oeuvres mystiques de la Sainte.
Many theologians and researchers have studied her texts. Here is the translation (I did it, and I hope it fits the level of the original writing) of the resume for the book Hildegarde de Bingen. Prophète et docteur pour le troisième millénaire, written by Pierre Dumoulin and focused on the mystical works of the Saint.
Hildegarde élabore une anthropologie novatrice, veut guider les âmes et régénérer l’esprit. Son génie est de proposer une conception intégrale de la personne : « Le corps est l’atelier de l’âme où l’esprit vient faire ses gammes ». Ses trois livres de visions nous introduisent dans une sagesse chrétienne. Le premier indique la voie, le second donne les moyens, le troisième décrit le but à atteindre : une harmonie de l’univers renouvelée grâce à la transformation intérieure de l’homme. Toute la richesse de l’Occident chrétien est ici synthétisée.
Hildegarde  designs an innovative anthropology, wants to sheperd the soul and regerenate the spirit. Her genius comes from proposing an integral conception of the person: "The body is the workshop of the soul where the spirit comes to make his scales". Her three books of visions introduce us in a christian wisdom. The first show the way, the second give the means, the third describes the goal to achieve: an harmony of the universe, renewed through the inner transformation of the man. All the richness of the Christian Occident is here synthetized.


Le Riesencodex conservé à la bibliothèque régionale de Hesse, à Wiesbaden, regroupe la majorité de ses écrits, exceptés ceux médicaux.
The Riesencodex is preserved at the Hessen regional library, in Wiesbaden, and gather most of her writings, but not her medical ones.

Rupertsberger Riesenkodex


La femme de sciences: soigner le corps et l'esprit.
The woman of science: healing the body and the spirit.
L'épouse de mon père est pharmacienne et spécialisée dans les remèdes naturels. Hildegarde von Bingen est une de ses personnalités préférées. Ses écrits sont très modernes pour le XIIe siècle (diagnostics, traitements, hygiène - eau bouillie pour prévenir les infections par exemple), tout en reprenant des traditions antiques (propriétés des minéraux). Elle combinait le traitement physique de la maladie avec des méthodes holistiques centrées sur une guérison spirituelle. Pour elle, le macrocosme et le microcosme sont inextricablement liés.
My step-mother is pharmacist and specialized in natural cures. Hildegarde von Bingen is one of her favorite character. Her texts are rather modern for the 12th Century (diagnostics, cures, hygiene -boiled water to prevent the infections for example), while reclaiming the antic traditions (mineral properties). She mixed the physical treatements of the illness with holistic methods centered on a spiritual healing. For Hildegarde, the macrocosme and the microcosme were inextricably linked.


Les deux ouvrages Physica et Causae et Curae sont traduits dans plusieurs langues et passionnent depuis une trentaine d'années les personnes qui recherchent une approche plus "naturelle" de la médecine. Avec l'intérêt renouvelé pour ses écrits depuis les années 80, des praticiens se sont orientés vers une redécouverte de ses méthodes. Il existe même un Institut Hildegardien qui transmet lors de formations les enseignements médicaux de Hildegarde.
The two books Physica and Causae et Curae are translated in several languages and fascinate for more than thirty years people looking for a more natural approach in medecine. With the renewed interest in her works since the eighties, practicionners have turned toward a rediscovery of her methods. Some Institutes have been created to train in the medical teachings and applications of Hildegarde's studies.



La femme de lettres: 
The woman of letters:
Elle a construit une nouvelle langue, la Langua Ignota (langue inconnue) qui semble-t-il n'a été parlé que par Hildegarde elle-même. Voici une planche des 23 lettres la composant:
She constructed a new language, the Langua Ignota (the unknown language) that seems to have been only spoken by Hildegarde herself. Here are the 23 letters composing it:


De plus, elle a eu une correspondante abondante avec des personnalités telles que Bernard de Clairvaux, le pape Eugène III, l'abbé Suger, ou encore l'empereur Frédéric I Barberousse.
She also had a long and fructious correspondence with many personalities like Bernard of Clairvaux, the Pope Eugene III, Abbot Suger or even the emperor Frederik I Barbarossa.


L'artiste: 
The artist:
Les enluminures de ses trois recueils de visions auraient été réalisées par elle-même ou du moins leur production dirigée par ses soins. Il y en a 35 dans le Scivias et elles sont les plus connues de celles contenues dans ses oeuvres.
The illuminations of the three records of visions could have been made by her or at least she managed their production. There are 35 illuminations in the Scivias and they are most famous from her works.


Léonard de Vinci n'était pas le premier à reconnaître les proportions du corps humain...
Leonardo da Vinci was not the first to recognize the human body proportions...
Elle fut également une compositrice de musique sacrée. 70 compositions sont regroupées dans le Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum (Symphonie de l'harmonie des révélations célestes) et le drame liturgique Ordo Virtutum (Le jeu des vertus) comporte 82 mélodies.
She was also a sacred music composer. 70 compositions are regrouped in the Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum (Symphony of the harmony of the celestial revelations) and the liturgic drama Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues) has 82 melodies.

Spiritus Sanctus, the second Antiphone and Psalm 110/111 from the vesper of Hildegard von Bingen.

Veni Creator Spiritus

O Magna Pater / Ave, Maria, o auctrix vitae



Comme vous le voyez, Hildegarde était une femme aux multiples talents, et qui refusait le carcan patriarcal quand celui-ci lui empêchait de suivre les murmures de l'Esprit Saint. A son époque, les femmes n'étaient pas invitées à parler en public, surtout de sujets théologiques. Cela ne l'empêcha pas de conduire quatre tournées de prêches en Allemagne dès 1160 jusqu'en 1171 (elle avait alors 73 ans!).
As you can see, Hildegarde was a multi-talented woman, who refused the patriarcal oder when it impeded her to folow the Holy Ghost's whisperings. In her era, women couldn't speak in public, especially on theological topics. It didn't prevent her to tour four times Germany to preach from the year 1160 to 1171 (she was 73 years old!)

Se décrivant comme une femme non-éduquée (elle n'avait pas été formellement instruite dans les sept arts libéraux) et incapable d'exégèse des textes, et appuyant sur son état de membre du "sexe faible", elle mettait ainsi en avant le côté mystique de ses visions et prêches. Ce qui lui permettait en fait de pouvoir parler à une époque et un lieu où ce n'était pas possible aux femmes. Elle s'opposait fermement à la corruption et aux pratiques de l'Eglise qu'elle réprouvait (la simonie par exemple).
Describing herself as an uneducated woman (she was never instructed per say in the seven liberal arts) and unable to do exegesis of the Scriptures, and pointing her statu of member of the "weaker sex" too, she put forward the mystical aspect of her visions and preaches. Which enabled her, in fact, to speak more freely in a time and space where it was deemed inappropriate for a woman. She was against the corruption and all the practices in the Church she deemed unworthy (like the simony).



Activités avec des enfants et des adolescents:
Activities with children and teenagers:

* Sur Pinterest et sur le web en général vous pouvez trouver de nombreux liens sur Hildegarde. Retrouvez les enluminures de ses oeuvres et montrez-les à vos enfants/élèves. Les explications de ces peintures sont nombreuses.
On Pinterest and on internet, you can find many links about Hildegarde of Bingen. Find the illuminations of her works and show them to your students/children. Informations about these paintings are numerous.

* Ecouter des musiques du Moyen-Âge. La plupart étaient chantées a capella et en latin. Bien différentes des musiques sacrées de la période baroque ou les cantiques plus contemporains!
Listen to medieval musics. Most of them were sung in latin and a capella. Quite different as the sacred musics of the baroque era or the more contemporary hymns!

* Etudier la vie d'un couvent médiéval. Qu'y faisaient les moines et moniales chaque jour?
Study the life in a monastery in the Middle-Age. What did the nuns and monks do of their days?


Je vous invite aussi à visiter le site du couvent de Eibingen  (il y a une traduction en français!) qui est toujours actif, avec 55 nonnes. En fait il a été reconstruit au début du XXe siècle. Celui de Rupertsberg n'a pas connu le même sort et seules quelques ruines seront visibles des promeneurs...
I invite you also to visit the website of the Eibingen closter (there's an English translation!) which is still active, with 55 nuns. It has been rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century. The one in Rupertsberg didn't have that luck and only some ruins remain...




Comme les sites où a vécu Hildegarde ne sont pas loin de chez moi, je vais essayer de jouer de mon charme et proposer un petit voyage dans la région d'Hildegarde à mon mari pour la Pentecôte. Je vous tiendrai au courant de mon succès (échec impossible!)
As the places where Hildegarde has lived are not very far away from my town, I will gather and use my charm and propose to my husband a short travel in this region for the Pentecost holidays. I will tell you about my success later (failure impossible!)



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This post is part of the Women's History Month Series with the Multicultural Kid Blogs community. You can find the list of all the other posts, on the 

vendredi 13 mars 2015

How to enjoy your stop on a French highway rest/service area?

I have written this post for all of those who want to have a nice and safe travel on the French highways. As it was first written in French for the blog de fil en tartine, I have added below a few tips for foreigners visiting my beautiful country.




The majority of the French highways (noted "A" and then the number of the road) have rest area scattered on their course. Some are called "rest areas" and possess just a few trash cans, some tables and benchs and of course toilets (roughly each 15 km). Others, bigger and with multiple services, can be found each 40 / 50 km and are called "service areas".
When you click on this link (stay on that page, don't try the english version, because the map doesn't exist in this language), you can see all the places you will encounter during your drive on the French highways. That's a tip you will love to use to prepare your road plan, with the meal rests or gas station stops... even more when there are kids in the car!



Playgrounds for children, inside or outside:
Speaking about children, a great number of rest areas provide games for them. You can find slides and rocking animals, swings... or inside the service areas' buildings you will have games, TV spots, etc.
And during the summer holidays (July and August), animations are held along the road to the touristic places and the beaches (for example: A6, A7, A9, A10 or A16, etc), as you can see here for the Vinci highways.
Remember to fix a time for the departure or you will have to stay the whole morning / afternoon (highlight the right word).








The toilets and the "Baby corner":
It's the most important place in a rest area. It's for it we crash stop because the son can't anymore refrain from peeing in his auto-sit, or the baby has poisoned the air in the car with what is now in his diaper, or even when Mom must REALLY do something about her "monthly girl things". And when it's not meeting our expectations, it can quickly become a living nightmare.
Usually, the toilets are cleaner and you feel more welcomed in the service areas than in the simple rest areas. However, I have already been surprized, in the good way, by toilets lost in the middle of nowhere and that are equiped with a self-cleaning system and all the necessary to go back on the holidays road, lightened and with soap smelling hands (and not hydroalcoholic gel).  


Three tips for when we stop to go to toilets in a small rest area:
- Take paper roll or tissues with you. You never know when you will find an empty roll holder...
- The disinfectant for the hands have to be easily reachable in the car (even better: put it in your pocket, so that you can have it as soon as you go out of the toilets)
- Leave your coat/jacket in the car, even if it's freezing outside. There are mostly no hooks on the doors of the toilets and the state of the floor don't allow us to put them down. You will already be busy with the trouser falling near the water puddle and your buttocks hanging in the air... (because NO, you don't put this part of your anatomy on the toilet seat! Only if you have no conception of hygiene, of course...)


It has to be noted that since I use French highways (since childhood), I have noticed a certain improvement in the cleanliness of the toilets. It's mostly due to new systems for cleaning, but also the  motorway network managers' realization that they have to do something...

Tell the other customers and the cleaning team when a toilet is "dirty" by sliding the window on pas propre (= not clean).

Most Babys corner in the service areas include: a change room with sink, trash can, changing table/matress, and electric outlet. Some have also a nursing room (I have seen it in one place but can't remember where). It's too rare and I hope it will be developed because a comfy armchair is way more pleasant that a piece of concrete bench...
However, you will easily find a microwave to warm up the baby food (also sold at the convenient store three feet away, if forgotten...) And in the eventuality of a "out of order" engine or a long waiting queue, ask nicely one of the cafeteria employee: whenever I have asked them, they were always benevolent and brought back the food warmed up just like needed. And sometimes, with a plate and a spoon (must be left on the empty trays... not taken out!) 
Of course, if you don't speak French and the person in front of you is not talented with languages, use your best smile, and show him / her the food jar/plate. Don't forget to say please and thank you, in English or whatever language you speak. These words are "understood" when used at the right times. But if you want to embrace the French spirit it will be "S'il vous plait" (please) and "Merci beaucoup" (thank you very much).


Shops and restaurants:
You're a tad hungry, you can't track down where the heck the road map has gone, the camera needs new batteries? Don't panic, the shops at the service areas should have all that...

... and everything you didn't envisage to buy. Like a book or magazine for your daughter, a poster about medieval castles or european geography for the son or even madeleines "pur beurre" for Mister-I-am-the-driver-who-likes-the-cookies-that-are-in-the-car-but-wants-something-else-for-a-change... The choice is large, so be careful with your wallet! The prices are higher than in a supermarket.


Restaurants and bakeries are owned by food chains. For example (not an exhaustive list): La Brioche Dorée, Paul, Pomme de Pain, Mc Donald, El Rancho, CourtePaille, AutoGrill, L'Arche, etc. According to your budget and tastes, you will savor a panini with salmon, a croissant, a steack with french fries, a full menu in a cafeteria or ready to eat pastas (remember, free microwaves to use. Just check if it is operational before buying the pastas). Of course, it's the option "no picnic". 

When the weather permits it, the picnic basket can be appropriate and enjoyed by the whole family. However, beware of rainy days, freezing temperatures or heat waves. One, having lunch on a bench outside or scrammed in the car is not comfortable or relaxing in these weathers. And two, because on very sunny days, the meal could become harmful: cheeses, creams, delicatessen (etc) that can hide a future bacteria infection, warm fruit juices leading to stomach aches... Well, if you are the owner of THE cooler bag that resists several hours of road trip under the heat, spread out the cloth on the grass and put some sun cream on your arms and face!
Otherwise, don't risk a food poisoning (I have tested, not cool for the start of the holidays), and stop at least one hour to nibble a sandwich or a salad you will buy at the service shop. It will be more expensive but less risky for your health and you will be protected against the bad weather. Bonus: more place in the car without all the picnic stuffs!

Nota bene: srevice areas are open 24h/24. For those who love to travel during the night, they are illuminated outside and you can drink a hot chocolate or eat a breakfast after hours of driving, and that's not a luxury! Rest areas are to be avoided during the wee hours of the night (10pm to 6am). Stories about robberies, carjacking, rapes and other news items are sadly not fictional. Ok, it's not every night in every rest area, but when you have kids sleeping in the back seats, chose the safety and hold on your bladder a bit longer.


Gas stations, to avoid being out of gas: 
More expensive near the highways, filling up at a gas station will often be unavoidable before reaching your destination. On the website I quoted at the beginning of this post, it's easy to locate the gas stations you will encounter on your journey. Most of them propose, besides gasoline and diesel, recharge terminal for electric or gas cars. You can also control your tires pressure, which is important when your car is loaded or the weather is "summer hot".


Space to walk and have a bit of fresh air: 

Combe du Tréboulou, on the highway A20

Don't forget to stop 20 minutes every 2 hours for a must needed walk! And when we have children, we can't escape these rests (only but: when they're napping). So spot before your travel the rest area that have panoramic point of view or spaces for lounging, or even better the "villages étapes"  on the free motorways and national roads (villages where you have touristic attraction, restaurants, service shops, etc) and have a bit of adventures! Don't we say that what is important is not the destination but the travel?

Panoramic overview, rest area "Marvejols", A75 in the Massif Central.

Have a nice travel on our French roads!

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This post is part of the MKB Global Pick of the day. 
You can follow all the daily picks with the hashtag #mkbglobalpick !



vendredi 27 février 2015

Customary marriage in the Bamileke land / Mariage coutumier au pays Bamilékés [Black History Month]

This month I called my friend Medye from the association Fesakam e.V. to tell us more about her country the Cameroon. This time, she was helped by her husband to explain a tradition that still goes on in Cameroon and other African countries: the customary marriage and the dot ceremony.
Ce mois-ci j'ai encore fait appel à mon amie Medye, de l'association Fesakam e.V., pour qu'elle nous raconte un peu son pays d'origine, le Cameroun. Cette fois, elle a été aidée de son mari pour transmettre une tradition qui perdure encore de nos jours au Cameroun et dans d'autres pays d'Afrique: le mariage coutumier et la cérémonie de la dot. 

***
  
1- The customary marriage / Le mariage coutumier
In Cameroon, and in some other African countries, the customary marriage is required, particularly for the Bamilekes (ethnies in the West of Cameroon). Generally, the man has to come to his beloved parents' house to dot her. The step of the dot shows that the two lovebirds agree on a wedding and on living together.
Au Cameroun, et comme dans d'autres pays africains, le mariage coutumier est de rigueur, en particulier chez les Bamilékés { Ethnies de l'ouest du Cameroun }.En général c'est à l'homme de venir doter sa dulcinée chez la famille de cette dernière. L'étape de la dot montre déjà l'accord des deux tourtereaux et leur désir de vouloir vivre ensemble.

1st step: telling the parents.
1ère étape: L'annonce aux parents.

The young woman tells her parents that she had met someone and would like to spend her life with him. Together, they set a date so that the suitor can introduce himself to the hs future in-laws. This step is oftenly called "knocking at the door". It's usely a intimate appointment (the future husband can come with one or two friends and a few family members), just to make contact and to allow the father of the bride-to-be to ask some tricky questions to his probable son-in-law. If the parents are not satisfied after that evening, they won't be another visits.
La fille annonce  à ses parents qu'elle a rencontré quelqu'un et aimerait faire sa vie avec ce dernier. Ensemble  ils trouvent une date pour que le prétendant  vienne se  présenter aux parents de la future mariée. Cette étape est communément appelée “cogner à la porte“. Cette séquence se déroule généralement dans un cadre intime {le futur marié peut être accompagné par un ou deux amis et quelques membres de la famille}, c'est juste une façon de faire le contact et surtout de permettre au père de la futur mariée de poser des questions pièges au futur marié afin de le "jauger". Si les parents ne sont pas satisfaits après cette soirée, il n'y aura plus de prochaines visites.


Medye au centre avec ses beaux-parents.
Medye with her in-laws.

2nd step: Telling about the dot to the whole family.
2ème étape:  l'annonce de la dot à toute la grande famille.

Meanwhile, the lovebirds chosed a day for their wedding. And more importantly, the young suitor gained enough money to dot his bride, so that the mother of the girl can tell about the ceremony to the women of the family and at the women's meetings she goes to insure their help (cooking, singing, dancing during the party) and liven up the party.
The father of the girl does the same with the men and during his weekly or monthly meetings.
Entre temps, nos petits tourtereaux  ont pu sélectionner un jour favorable pour leur union. Surtout dès que le jeune prétendant a assez amassé d'argent pour pouvoir enfin doter sa dulcinée, la mère de la future mariée est chargée d'annoncer le mariage aux femmes de la famille et aux réunions de femmes auxquelles elle participe pour solliciter leur soutien {aide pour la cuisine, chants et danses traditionnelles} et pour rendre la fête très animée .
Le père de la future mariée fera de même avec les hommes de la famille et lors de ses différentes réunions hebdomadaires ou bien mensuelles. 

The parents of the girl, her uncles and aunts will write a list of things that the family of the young man will have to give the day of the dot. It's often bags of salt, of rice, red oil cans, goats, sheeps and mostly money. This list is not the same in every families. If the family of the future husband is rich, it will be a longer list and the number of aunts and uncles asking will grow too.
Les parents de la future mariée et ses oncles et tantes des côtés paternel et maternel  rédigeront une liste de choses que la famille du futur marié donnera à la famille de la futur mariée le jour de la dot. Il s'agit très souvent de sacs de sel, sacs de riz, bidons d'huiles rouges, des chèvres, moutons et surtout d une somme d'argent. Cette liste n'est pas toujours la même dans toutes les familles. Si la famille du futur marié a beaucoup d'argent, il est clair qu'elle sera très longue et le nombre de tantes et oncles va augmenter. 


Ne pas déranger la cuisson!
Don't disturb the cooking!


3rd step: the day of the traditional wedding.
3ème étape: le jour du mariage traditionnel.

The day before the event, the women have started to cook to produce some typical and traditional dishes, clean the house, etc and the men have looked out for the drinks.
La veille de ce jour si spécial, les femmes se sont attelées à la cuisine pour concocter des plats typiquement traditionnels, nettoyer la maison, et les hommes se sont plutôt occupés de tout ce qui est boissons. 

I wan to remeber you that the dot happens in the family'house of the bride-to-be. The groom is accompanied by his family and friends, and more important with an uncle who will play the role of spokesman toward the family of the bride. On the bride side, there's also an uncle who will play such a role (only men play this role). Everyone is seated in the living room or in the house courtyard, the spokesman of the groom stands up and asks for the floor... And here begins the crucial part of the evening and my favorite. I will explain it with a dialogue.
Je tiens encore a préciser que la dot se passe dans la famille de la futur mariée. Le futur marié est accompagné de sa famille et d'amis, et surtout d'un oncle qui jouera le rôle de porte-parole auprès de la famille de la futur mariée. Et du côté de la famille de la future mariée, il y a aussi un oncle qui jouera un tel rôle {ce rôle est toujours attribué aux hommes}. Tous assis au salon { cela peut être aussi être dans la cour de la maison }, le porte-parole du marié se lève et demande la parole...  Et là, commence la partie cruciale de la soirée et ma préférée.  Je vous la raconte sur forme de dialogue. 

Spokesman of the groom (SG): Good evening to the assembly, good evening my friend. i am here tonight because I need an engine to crush my corn. As I'm already quite old, I have not enough strengh to do it on my own.
Porte-parole du marié (PPHomme): Bonsoir l'assemblée, bonsoir mon ami. Je suis ici chez toi ce soir parce que j'ai besoin d'une machine pour écraser mon maïs. Comme je suis déjà très vieux, je n'ai plus assez de force pour le faire moi-même. 

Spokesman of the bride (SB): And someone told you that I sell these engines to crush corn here???
Porte-parole de la future mariée (PPFemme): Et on t'a dit que je vend les machines  pour écraser le mais ici???

SG: My friend, I know you have a beautiful engine here. I have seen it yesterday when I walked in front of your courtyard.
PPH: Mon ami, je sais que tu as une très belle machine ici. Je l'ai vu encore hier juste quand je passais devant ta cour.

SB: My friend, I just told that I don't sell these engines here. Humm... You said you saw it yesterday?
PPF.  Mon ami, je viens juste de te dire que je ne vend pas de machine chez moi.  Humm... Tu dis l'avoir vu hier cette machine?

SG: Yes of course, it was just here in the courtyard, this engine.
PPH: Oui bien sûr, elle était la juste devant ta cour, cette machine.

SB: Humm... ok, it's serious business. [He calls the mother of the bride and she comes to sit with them] Ma, this man that you see here seated has came to look for an engine to crush his corn, and said he saw one yesterday evening in the courtyard of this house.
PPF: Humm... ok l'affaire devient sérieuse.  [Il appele la mère de la jeune fille et celle-ci vient se joindre à eux au salon]  Maman, ce monsieur que tu vois assis là, est venu cherché une machine pour l'aider a écraser son maïs, et dit l'avoir vu encore hier soir devant la cour de la maison.

The mother answers: I have here an engine for crushing the corn, perhaps he's speaking about this one? Wait, I'm going to look for it.
The mother of the bride comes back holding an "engine" and ask the groom's spokesman: Is it this one you're talking about?
La mère répond: J'ai une machine à écraser le maïs là, peut-être il parle de cette machine? Attend, je vais aller la chercher.
La mère de la mariée revient en tenant par la main une "machine"  et demande au porte-parole du marié : C’est de celle-ci donc vous parlez ?

The spokesman for the groom is rather surprised, and a bit amused he answers: No, I need someone to help me with the corn crushing machine, to make my couscous.
Le porte-parole du marié est surpris, et un peu amusé il répond : Non, j’ai besoin  d’une personne qui va aider avec la machine à écraser le maïs pour faire mon coucous.

The mother retorts: It's not the machine anymore you want, it's now the person!
La mère de la futur mariée rétorque : Ce n’est plus la machine que tu veux, c’est maintenant la personne!

SG: Yes Ma. I need a woman, and news are spreading in the village that you have a kind and beautiful daughter. It's exactly this one I need!
PPH : Oui Maman. J’ai besoin d’une femme, et la nouvelle circule dans tout le village que tu as une très belle et tendre fille. C’ est exactement celle-là qu’il me faut !

SB takes back the front place and says: In that case my friend, I have many daughters. You will have to look for the one you're talking about between all of them, be careful not to make a mistake!
PPF reprend la parole en disant : Dans ce cas, mon ami, j’ai beaucoup de filles. Tu devras chercher entre toutes mes filles celle dont  tu parles, attention à ne pas te tromper !

A few minutes later women coverted in a "veil" ( from head to toes) appear. The groom's spokesman has to choose, between all the girls, the one the groom loves, without  mistake. If he points out the wrong one, he will have to pay a penalty because it's considered as a deceit. Quite often, the bride is not even in the group of girls. it's just a way to make the evening more entertaining, with small games, and give the bride's family the money (the dot) for each failure.
Quelques minutes plus tard apparaissent des femmes toutes voilées des pieds à la tête à l’aide d’un pagne. Le porte-parole du marié doit, parmi ces filles, choisir celle qu’aime le jeune homme sans se tromper. Si jamais il pointe la mauvaise personne, alors il devra payer une amende car cela est considéré comme tromperie. Très souvent dans le lot, la future mariée ne s’y trouve pas. C’est juste une façon de faire durer la soirée, avec des petits jeux, surtout qu’à chaque jeux la famille du mariée doit donner de l’argent à la famille de la mariée (pour chaque étape ratée), celle de la dot.

After the games, the number and duration previously established by the two families, the mother of the bride and other people she has chosen go in search of the bride and bring her back where the meeting take place. Everybody  is happy and shouts joyfully. Dancing and drinking are allowed. the two spokesmen write freehandly a wedding act, that will be signed by the spouses and their parents. And to finish off and consolidate the union, the young married couple have to partake in a kola nut and drink palm wine (a traditional white wine). The man receive more parts of the kola nut to symbolize his preeminence in the new home.
Après ces jeux dont chaque famille a établi le nombre selon sa disponibilité en temps et en argent, la mère de la future mariée et des personnes qu’elle a choisi au préalable vont chercher la future épouse et la ramène là où a lieu la réunion. Tout le monde est content et lance des cris de joie. On peut boire et danser.  Les deux porte-paroles rédigent un acte de mariage à mainlevée qui doit être signé par les parents et les époux. Et pour finir en beauté  et consolider leur union,  les mariés doivent partager une tête de kola et boire du vin de palme { vin blanc  traditionnel }. L’homme reçoit le plus grand nombre de quartiers de kola pour ainsi symboliser sa supériorité dans le foyer.

A few hours later, some women from the groom family have the duty to "bridenap" the young bride, because she has to leave her family house without someone from her family seeing her. The party continues without the new spouses...
Après quelques heures, certaines femmes de la famille du marié sont chargées d’enlever la jeune épouse, car elle doit quitter la maison familiale sans que personne de sa famille ne s’en aperçoive. La fête continue sans nos tourtereaux...




2/ The importance of the dot in the Bamileke land / L'importance de la dot au pays Bamilékés:

During our ancestors' time, there were no townhall, administrative registration, etc, so the only way to show everyone  that someone was married, it was the dot ceremony. The woman who has been doted "belonged" to her husband. He could do whatever he wanted with her.
A l'époque de nos ancêtres il n' y avait pas d'état civil, de mairie et tout le reste, donc le seul moyen de faire comprendre à tous qu'un tel ou un autre était marié, ce n était que par la dot. La femme qui a été dotée "appartenait" a son mari. Celui-ci pouvait faire d'elle ce qu'il voulait.


The children born from this union, especially the boys, can succeed the thron owned by their father.
Les enfants nés de cette union, et surtout les garçons, pourront succéder au trône de leur père.


The woman when she dies a the right to be buried on the lands of her husband.
La femme lors de son décès a le droit d être enterrée sur les terres de son mari.

PS: The dot is considered, originally, as a symbolic gesture in the Bamileke land.
PS: La dot est considérée à l'origine, au pays Bamilékés, comme un geste symbolique.

***

I thank Medye and her husband (who is from the Bamileke) to make us discover an ancestral tradition. They didn't have a customary marriage, but she would like one day to have such a fest...
Je remercie Medye et son mari (qui est du pays Bamiléké) pour nous avoir fait découvrir une tradition ancestrale. Eux-même n'ont pas eu de mariage coutumier, mais elle aimerait bien un jour avoir une telle fête...


I have made some researchs, I have remarked that sadly the dot, which once permitted an economic balance within the village or tribe, has became a way to get rich and sell to the highest bidder the young women. Some families have forgotten what the dot symbolized and only think about what they will "gain" (egoïsm before the community): they replace a goat, the rice or the oil by technologic products or extravagant demands (article in French)... Undermining the feelings of the young lovebirds. Those who can't pay these frivolities are turned away... That's why many young people don't follow the tradition anymore to avoid the obstacles and live together before the dot is fulfilled or just marry civilly.
J'ai fait quelques recherches, et je me suis rendu compte que malheureusement la dot, qui autrefois permettait une certaine balance économique entre les familles d'un village ou d'une tribu, est devenue un moyen de s'enrichir et de vendre au plus offrant les jeunes filles. Des familles ont oublié ce que représente la dot et ne pensent plus qu'à ce qu'elles vont "gagner" (l'égoïsme avant le bien de la communauté villageoise): on remplace la chèvre, les sacs de riz ou les pots d'huile par des produits technologiques ou des demandes extravagantes... Au détriment bien sûr des sentiments des jeunes gens et des jeunes filles. Car ceux qui ne peuvent payer les frivolités de la liste sont éconduits... C'est pourquoi de très nombreux jeunes se détournent de cette tradition pour éviter les empêchements familiaux financiers et vivent en concubinage avant que la dot ne soit amassée ou bien se marient  uniquement civilement.


I have found some articles talking about the Bamileke, the kola nut or palm wine, but the ones I liked the most where in French... See below.
Vous trouverez ici, un autre témoignage de cette pratique du mariage coutumier chez les Bamilékés. Et si vous voulez voir plus d'infos sur les noix de kola dans les traditions africaines... ou bien sur la fabrication du vin de palme, ces deux liens vous intéresseront. Et pour avoir un aperçu plus large de la culture Bamileke, c'est ici.

***

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vendredi 20 février 2015

The Importance of the Mother Language... told in different languages.

Tomorrow will be International Mother Language Day, an event created in 1999 by the UNESCO and held for the first time on the 21st February 2000. Today a conference is held at UNESCO headquarters. On their website, you can find many informations about their programs to developp education in the local languages and preserve the culture of the people where they live.

I'm quite proud, and at the same time a bit nervous, to be the last one of our group of bloggers who have promoted this event these last 30 days... The topic for today's blog post is "the Importance of Mother Language", and as I live in a city where many different nationalities and ethnies live (Oberursel, near Frankfurt, Germany), I had the idea of asking people (neighbors, friends and fellow bloggers) what they think about their Mother Language.
I asked them two questions: "Why do you love your Mother Language? What is so important for you about it?" As I was a bit busy, I didn't have time to record some people I know speaking Macedonian, Persish, Turkish, Lingala, Hungarish, Croatian, Japanese and so on... But as soon as it is done, I will update this post and add their point of view!

Of course, you dear readers, you can also participate! In the comment section at the end of the post, you can share your thoughts!

***

As I have started to receive the answers, I recognize a patern in them. They all speak about their family and the bond their language has with their heart. What links us to the languages we speak since birth/childhood, is something more profound than just a knowledge, a set up of the mind. It comes from the deepest part of who we are, our "core". This article in the Fountain Magazine, issue of July/August 2010: Mother Tongue: the language of Heart and Mind explains it fairly well.

As a French, having learnt French from birth, I can't phantom a day when I wouldn't be able to express myself in French. Of course, I love to speak / read / write in English (like right now) and I have developped a strong bond to this language, but French (and the culture attached to it) is a part of me so intricatly wooven in my spirit, my soul and my body, that I can't reject it or forget it. All the other languages I'm learning or I will learn, they will add facets to my personnality and my knowledge, but they won't change who I am.


Sometimes, languages ARE LOST... Not only because people stop using them, but also because the population speaking it "died out". The Map of Native American Tribes in their own languages Mr Aaron Carapella is putting together is both a ressource and a reminder that many Native American cultures have disappear. Civilizations can end, but what is worse is that no one remember them or systematicly and willingly "forget" them from historical records.

In a world were communication is "easier" on a wide scale, and a handful of languages is intensively used in this globalization, I am not the only one who wishes for a more multicultural life: multilingualism, understanding of other cultures, preservation of the patrimoine, etc. 

With the insights given by the following men and women, may we see the beauty of the human diversity. May we protect and speak, write, share our mother language(s), as much as all the other languages we have learned along our life journey.


The "Russian soul" was quite receptive at my plea, and I have three russian speakers who have shared their love of their language. It seems to me that those speaking russian since birth enjoy their languages very much, and are proud of the culture around it.
Anna blogs at russianstepbystepchildren.com
Raising a trilingual child
Galina has started an initiative to help families to find a playdate in their mother tongue
 (here the website). 
 creativeworldofvarya.com

For English speaker since birth, it is both a great gift and a disavantage. When I talk to friends coming from USA or UK, they explain me their struggle. They know how English is "talking over the world", and it makes life easy for them when they have to move overseas. However, the lack of enthusiasm for learning a new culture (language and way of life of other nations) in their youth (and it stills goes on for the teenagers nowadays) has handicaped them for social interactions.

Of course, all English speakers are not monolingual!  I know an educated and amazing woman who speaks English, French, Norwegian, German, and Italian. And she's not keen on stopping learning about the world and its diversity. 

Just thinking about my friends who came from English speaking countries in Africa as first generation migrants or second ones... They have learned in their childhood both English and the local language or dialect. And now, they have added one or two more! However, some tend to struggle to keep their African language alive and pass it on their children. The same can be said for Asiastisch and "Tribal languages" of South America...



lingolised.eu


We will have now a travel across the globe, starting with Latvia.

 Let the Journey Begin www.letthejourneybegin.eu

Here comes Spanish with a Mexicana woman (bilingual Spanish and French):


Traveling to Asia, we have Persian:



Further East, we encounter Korean:


Catalan is a language I have never learned in my youth but I have heard it everyday... I understand it quite well when someone speaks it or when I read a text but can't speak it. I'm sad it's the case because it was my grand-father's language... but as I have never met him (he died when my mom was young), my mother and grand-mother couldn't pass it on to me... 


Poland is next with Olga!

The European Mama

We will have now a beautiful mix of Scandinavian languages, learned as a child by Rita:
www.multilingualparenting.com
Time for the 4th most spoken language in the world: Portuguese. I want to thank Daniela for her meaningful and beautiful answer.

Click on the picture to see it bigger!


This language is the most spoken as mother language in the world. Can you guess which one is it before scrolling to the end of the picture?



African languages, like I said earlier, are often learned at the same time as one of the European languages of the countries who colonised them in the 19th and 20th Century: Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, etc. Some are mostly oral languages and other can be written. But it doesn't mean many can write them. Education is rarely provided in these languages... It's why I love so much the programm of UNESCO. They try to help children to be scolarized in the main language and also in their local one (as much as possible).

My friend Jose is from Angola and lives in Germany. His mother tongues are Kiokue and Portuguese. He explained me that those are "his identity, his cultural instrument" and that writing african languages is sometimes quite difficult because of the phonetic. His use of Kiokue is essentially oral. Jose is also fluent in French and German, but don't start speaking English with him! You would make him loose his bright smile!

Ama is bilingual from birth in English and Twi. She lives in France (and had learned French). She can't write perfectly Twi, the alphabet is a bit complex, but told me she loves to use it orally at home with her children. Twi is for her a pictorial language, full of funny expression.

I will finish with Ute, who is a perfect bilingual since childhood in two european languages and is proof that those who say that learning several languages at the same time is "armful for the kids' brains" (one of the numerous myths about bilingualism...). She lives in the Netherland and blogs at expatsincebirth.com

Deutsch ist die Sprache meiner Familie, meiner Eltern und derer Vorfahren. Ich habe sie erst spät lieben gelernt, doch finde sie immer faszinierender und schätze den unermesslichen Wert des literarischen Erbgutes (German is the language of my family, of my parents and their ancestors. I learned to appreciate/love it quite late, but I find it more and more fascinating and I truly appreciate the immense value of the literary patrimony)
Deutsch ist wichting für mich, weil es meine Eltern und meine Kinder verbindet. (German is important for me because it connects my parents and my children)

L'italiano è la lingua del mio cuore. E' la lingua che ho scelto spontaneamente di parlare con i miei figli sin dall'inizio. E' la lingua delle mie emozioni e delle mie riflessioni più spontanee e profonde (Italian is the language of my heart. It's the language I chose spontaneously to talk with my children since the beginning. It's the language of my most spontaneous and profound/deep emotions)
L'italiano ha e avrà sempre un ruolo predominante nella mia vita perché è la lingua in cui riesco ad esprimere i miei pensieri più profondi e più accurati. Nonostante la situazione linguistica nella nostra famiglia sia cambiata rispetto all'inizio, considero l'italiano la lingua che più mi appartiene. Il fatto che la condivido con le persone a me più care la fa ancor più preziosa. (Italian is the most dominant language in my life because I can express my deepest and most accurate thoughts. Although the linguistic situation changed within our family (compared to the beginning), I consider Italian the language that pertains me the most. The fact that I share it with the most important people in my life makes it even more precious)

***



I wish you all a fantastic International Mother Language Day! And don't forget to share your love of your Mother tongue in the comments!


For more article about this event, search for the hashatg #IMLD!


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