Africa Pastoral proverbs

Proverb: On Borrowed Oil…

Igbo: Mmanù arîótara arîóta anaghî ezu ofe

English: Borrowed palm oil can never be enough for soup

Origin: This proverb originated from Southern Nigeria. It is an Igbo proverb.

Palm oil (mmanù akwú in Igbo) is a standard cooking oil used in West Africa. In Nigeria’s Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Bini, and Ibibio land, it’s vital to use it in most dishes as the unique taste adds flavor to meals, especially soups.

It’s common for people to borrow food condiments in rural (and even some semi-urban) communities. People borrow seasoning, spice, and vegetables when they fall short of provisions and may not afford to visit the market. But the quantity borrowed is always little and does not cost much to the lender. Typically any foodstuff borrowed is not meant to be returned unless otherwise stated.

Meaning: In life, anything that is borrowed can not give full satisfaction to the borrower. If it’s little and not meant to be returned, it won’t sustain the borrower for long (as in our proverb). If it’s big and meant to be repaid, replacing it may be costly for the borrower. So either way, there’s a price to pay by the borrower.

Summarily the proverb explains that nothing borrowed can ever be enough to satisfy the borrower.


4 replies on “Proverb: On Borrowed Oil…”

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