Faden sago / fadensago

What is the meaning of “faden sago”? I am reading an article that translates it as “the capacity of one’s will, desire or aspiration has stopped.” The author implies that the term is used as an epithet or insult, without mentioning its etymology or how it connects to the related term fadenya.

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Hi Bruce! Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting.

I can’t see the citations with the term or expression in the article because of the paywall, but faden sago (also written as one word fadensago potentially with a slightly different meaning) translates literally to “the wish of one’s faden”.

Faden, as you know, is literally a paternal sibling, which is a relationship associated with rivalry, etc.

In Bamadaba, the term fadensago is glossed as an insult equivalent to “a good-for-nothing” (as in, “You are a real good-for-nothing”.

The two show up a lot in the Bambara Reference Corpus. Here’s an example:

Ni dusu t’ i la, i bɛ kɛ fadensago ye

“If you don’t have heart, you’ll become a fadensago [good-for-nothing]”


And here’s another:

Sisan n bena baara ɲini ka masɔrɔ baarakɛbali ye faden sago ye

'Now I will look for work because a lack of work is ‘the wish of one’s faden


Also, it’s worth nothing that this use of sago (‘wish’) as part of an insult also shows up in the term jugusago (lit. “wish of one’s enemy”), which appears in Sidiki Diabaté’s lyrics:

Ne ye n jija
I did my best

Ka dusu ta
And took heart

Walasa Ala kana n kɛ jugusago ye
So that God wouldn’t turn me into a down-and-outer


The two terms show up together frequently. I’m not sure of the exact nuance of the insults.

As for the article, I think that the translation they offer might come from the idea that the wish of one’s faden is that you no longer have aspirations or the will to carry one.