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Koffi Mbairamadji

Koffi Mbairamadji

African Storyteller and Author from Chad

Born: Moundou, Chad
Heritage: Chadian

We are all related. We have things in common. Live in peace with each other. We are all related. You get a lot of morals with stories. I advise you to read stories. We mostly use animals in Africa in our stories. Our ancestors use animals to tell stories. You can easily keep those stories in mind. Once you see animals in the stories you recall the moral lessons when you see them. Now you can keep the book and read it. You can remember the animals and it’s the easiest way to recall the stories. All the stories are traditional and expanded on them.

Koffi Mbairamadji

African Storyteller and Author from Chad

My name is Koffi Mbairamadji. Boys are called Koffi if you are born on Friday. Mbairamadji means God. The two names are mine. In our tribe we don’t have our parents’ name. They give you two names. None are from my father. We don’t have parents’ names like you here.

I was born in Chad, in the southern part of Chad. It is in the heart of Africa and divided in two parts. The southern part of Chad is Savannah. It is kind of a light forest with grasses, with lions and tigers. A lot of animals you see on TV.

I was born in Moundou, a small town. We have a lot of industries there, in the southern part of the country. It is unique over there. There is a lot of malaria there. We have two lakes by the city and one river. The river goes all the way to Lake Chad and that is where I was born. We have a forest by the town, so when you are a kid you can go there to eat and hunt birds.

The high school was a junior high school. Then I went to a commercial technical senior high school. When I graduated I moved to the capitol city in N'Djamena. I started my life by myself. I attended the college and commercial engineering. I learned theology, so in 1990 I was working as a librarian and bookseller in my church, through the Mennonite Church, working in Chad. They send young people to the United States [from] Africa on an exchange program.

I was sent to the States in 1991. They sent me to Colorado Springs, Colorado. In Colorado I used to work with children at the church. I’d tell African stories. When I went back to Africa I decided to write storybooks and send back to my friends in Colorado Springs. That is the genesis of this book, African Savannah Stories.

In the cities like Moundou, they are Christian. The northern part of the country, in the north, are people of Islam. There is another Islam from that area. It is hard to live with them. They want you to be like them and practice their Islam. We live in peace with everyone.

There are over 200 languages in Chad. I speak Ngambay. It is difficult to speak other languages from other tribes. They speak Ngambay and speak three or four languages. Most everybody speaks Ngambay.

The house I grew up in is like any house. Most of the houses are built with brick and iron on the roof and most everyone live there. It is a big family and we find a place to live for everybody who needs a place to stay. In my city and town it is hard to find homeless people. You share with everybody. No fancy things like heat or utilities to make a house. It’s hard to understand that somewhere there is homeless people who sleep on the street. In Chad it is hard to understand that. Sometimes you build two or three or four empty rooms so someone can come and stay.

Notation: Download PDF

Way Down In The Savannah Where The Animals Live

Honoring Koffi Mbairamadji

Way Down In The Savannah Where The Animals Live
Honoring Koffi Mbairamadji

Way down in the Savannah where the animals live
Way down low to the flow

Years ago, Pulapula, the giraffe had plain skin
He wasn’t too beautiful but all the other
animals loved him
He served all those he met,
creatures big and small
So the elders of the Savannah met,
they sent out a call
To honor Pulapula for his humility
So they took Pulapula, the Giraffe,
to the blessing tree
Shaking all the branches
until all the leaves did drop
Now Pulapula has a yellow coat
with black spots


Ndirikor the cricket used to live in the bush
Until with new ambitions by hook or crook
Went to live with the humans,
treating his old friends with contempt
When he saw the Maybug larva,
he just laughed at it
‘Til one day he met a stranger
with such beauty he was stunned
Haven’t we met before,
where do you come from
I was once the larva;
don’t care to talk with you again
Mocking your friends will injure you
as well as them


Once upon a time on the great Savannah
a great sickness raged
Kolmatin, the tree God,
said the animals are to blame
So the wild dog lived with the panther,
the cat and mouse did the best they could
Instead of killing each other,
worked together for the common good
Then the cheetah saw Nase, the antelope,
drinking down at the lake
His shoulders tensed,
his mouth dropped, he began to salivate
Bad news travels quickly,
always does, those who are strong
Should live in peace with the weak
that’s the moral of this song


We’re all related
Anishinabe, Chippewa, Ojibwe, Dakota,
Hungarian. We’re all related!
Czechoslovakian, Irish, British, First Nation.
We’re all related!
Scandinavian, Italian, Polish, English, Scottish.
We’re all related!
German, Finnish, Bohemian, Sheba, Somali,
Cambodian. We’re all related!
Welsh, African-American, Vietnamese,
French-Canadian. We’re all related!
Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican,
Jewish, Lakota, French. We’re all related!


Music by LARRY LONG. Words by LARRY LONG & ANTHONY GALLOWAY with Mr. Plantz’s & Ms. Bailey’s 6th grade class of Cedar Manor Elementary (St. Louis Park, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2007 / BMI