"Do you know what the real meaning of 'Makalondi' is?", I asked David last Thursday, as we were driving out to the clinic. "I've heard several "meanings" but the people I asked were new."
David replied that he Did know the meaning, because of the way that stories are passed down through families among the Gourma. His dad had explained it to him when he was a child.
He began by explaining the real words that make up 'Makalondi'. Because the village is located in a low valley, he said that years ago there were Monkeys that used to live in the area. The word for monkeys (plural) is "Mamii". There was a big tree in the area that had a hole in the trunk, and the word for a "tree with a hole in it" is "Lonli". They called that spot, "Mamilonli", and over time and with the arrival of other peoples, the name evolved into "Makalondi".
So then David asked me, "You know what my village, Hanlonli, means (where the clinic is located)?" I knew it had to at least involve a tree with a hole in it! I was right! There is a tree, and David has seen this tree when he was young and his father pointed it out to him. It's a tree that produces a little dark fruit about the size of an acorn. The fruit are called "Hana". So, "Hana" and "Lonli" became "Hanlonli". Hana fruit on the Tree with the hole. Ok, good enough.
Now David asked me, "Do you know how the
got its name?" We had just driven through Koulbou. "Nope", I replied. village of Koulbou
"Well, there is that very big Baobab tree we just passed in the middle of the village and every year it bears its fruit, which we call "Monkey fruit". One year there was a very bad famine and so everyone in the village began running for the tree to try and get some fruit before the other villagers could get it.
There wasn't enough for everyone, so from then on the village was called "Koulbou". 'Koulu' means 'next to' and 'boutibou' is 'tree' (the shortened, 'bou' is used for "it"- to refer to the tree).
So the village name means, "Stay next to it"!! Isn't that Great?!!