Categories
Africa proverbs

African Proverb: On The Chameleon

Proverb: A chameleon that wants to survive from the burning bush must abandon the majestic walk of its ancestors.

Origin: When there’s a fire in the bush, all living things around there fly, crawl, run for dear lives. Even the slowest among them will make a drastic effort to escape the fire.

Chameleons are slow-walking reptiles with teeth attached to the edge of the jaw. Many species come in different colors and can change colors at will. They are adapted to climbing, live in warm habitats that occur in Africa and Mediterranean Europe. Their tails are short and curled. Indeed, these characteristics make them seem ‘majestic’.

Meaning: The proverb translates to doing things differently to survive, dropping pride, or whatever to achieve a purpose. If you want to make a difference in life, you must change the ordinary ways of doing things. Sometimes tough times can alter convention.

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love ghana proverbs

Ashanti Proverb: When You Walk In Your Father’s Path

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him – Ashanti proverb


This excellent Ghanaian adage is self-explanatory. I’ll try to explain some salient points.

Generally, it’s an African believe that a child who goes nearer to his father grow up acting and speaking like him. Indeed, this is true in every society and even the animal world.

Father‘ here symbolises anyone who one observes or follow. For instance, if John, a Zimbabwean, is obsessed with American pop culture, he will end up dressing, talking and living like a pop star. In other words, we are influenced by who we look up to as role models and what we chose to feed our minds with.

A similar proverb talks about chicks watching and learning while the hen scratches and picks seeds from dirt. What do you think?

Categories
gratitude proverbs

Video: What Is Life By Schneider Dean

Gratitude is Life

Every morning we wake up to the greatest gift we have: the gift of Life. Every living being on this beautiful planet, including you and me, is blessed with life.

Life is a limited period we have been given on this planet to find and fulfill our purpose. The funny thing is that most people spend their entire lifetime searching for their purpose: waiting for the right moment to act, invest time, emotions, and love. But what most people don’t realize is that the right moment is now.

We all can make this world a better place. The most significant value you can contribute to this world is to be the best version of yourself. Your best me will inspire others to become the best versions of themselves too.

When I started to follow my passion and live my life to the fullest, I became the best version of myself, and success and meaning followed immediately.

Life is filled with challenges. Remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. Denzel Washington once said, “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship!” Stop waiting for the right moment to work hard. Stop waiting for the right time to love. Don’t wait to move on and beginning something new. Your life is happening right now. The time is limited, and the purpose is clear.

Become the best version you can be NOW.

©Schneider Dean

Categories
Africa proverbs

African Proverb: Evil Company

If you choose to make friends with a pig, you must be prepared to live in the mud.

The kind of friends we keep affect us and sometimes we are not aware of this. The pig here represents a dirty animal that loves to wallow in the mud. This is an anglicised version of the saying: Show me, your friend, and I’ll tell you who you are.

It is said in the Scriptures that “Evil company corrupts good manners.”

Categories
Africa education proverbs

African Proverb: A Smooth Sea…

A smooth sea does not make a skillful sailor.

Background: The proverb is originally from Namibia.

Significance: Life is like the sea: sometimes we get a gentle sea. But a peaceful sea never made a great sailor. Parents who always shield their child from challenging situations will, in the end, have an idiot of a child. Sometimes the way to show love is not by saving people from troubles all the time but by allowing them to go through it to learn from it. Every great person is a product of challenging circumstances. The purest gold had to go through the hottest fire. Of course, it`s not to say that everyone who goes through tough times comes out strong or skilled. We know some don`t. That is to say that it`s not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you that makes the difference. And so as someone has said, “when life puts you in tough situations, don’t say “why me?” say “try me.” Be adaptable!

Categories
Africa proverbs

African Proverb: However black a cow is…

However black a cow is, the milk is always white – Gambian Proverb


Background

Traditionally, Gambia is an agrarian society. The country which falls in a fertile valley keeps a lot of farm animals, cattle being the predominant livestock. Senegal borders the state, from the north down to the south. Senegambia, a short-lived confederation was attempted by the neighbours. The river Gambia runs the length of the smallest inland West African nation.

Significance

Outward appearance doesn’t always expose someone’s character. Indeed, looks can mislead, and if we go by that, we will have things twisted.

Categories
Africa Igbo culture opinion proverbs

Igbo Proverb: Sound of The Bitter Cola

Igbo: Ùda akùilu abùghí ùtō ya

English: Bitter Cola doesn’t taste like its sound (literally).


Background:

Just like the name, bitter cola is a very bitter fruit! Sometimes I do wonder why it’s not called a ‘very bitter cola.’

Alongside the kola nut and garden egg, it is commonly used as a ‘welcome fruit’ in West Africa. There’s a loud crunchy sound made when a soft fruit is chewed. The sound is more like one made when we eat waffles or some biscuits. Those are delicious. But that doesn’t work for bitter cola; the crunchy sound will not translate to a sweet taste! Most juveniles who had never chewed on one before could think otherwise because of this loud crunchy sound.

Meaning:

As I mentioned earlier, the crunchy sound can be very deceptive. The Igbo people of southern Nigeria believe that some things are not what they seem, hence the proverb. It relates to the English saying, ‘looks can be deceptive.’ What is your opinion?

Categories
Africa proverbs

African Proverb: Someone who Shouts

There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.

Meaning:
In Igbo land, it’s assumed that people who make a lot of noise are cowards. The principle of more action and less talk is the foundation of this proverb. The English version is the empty drum makes the loudest noise.

Categories
Africa proverbs quotes

African Proverb: A Young Tree

A tree is straightened while it is still young – Proverb from Burundi.

Meaning:

I chose to take this proverb in its literal form because it’s pretty evident that a fully grown tree can’t be transplanted or manipulated in any way. What I mean is that it’s not stressful to try to make a sapling grow straight. ‘To straighten’ means ‘to correct’ when we apply this proverb in real life. For instance, I do go to the garden to check and support fresh yam tendrils with sticks. This is to help them grow straight. It will be much challenging to attempt when they are matured and stiff.

It’s easy to correct something while it’s still fresh and tender. A metaphoric expression related to the proverb is ‘to nip in the bud’ which means to halt something at an early stage. The difference is that while our adage concentrates on correcting, the metaphoric expression talks about stopping or ending at the earliest moment.

This proverb can also translate to:

1. A person (a child) can be corrected while he/she is tender.

2. A thing (a mistake, action, etc.) can be fixed at the early stages.

What is your take on this?

Categories
Africa proverbs

African Proverb: On A Snake’s Ability

Igbo Proverb: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood.

Origin: A snake is a dangerous reptile. Snake poison can kill an adult in minutes. In Africa, snake bites contribute to deaths. In Igbo land where this proverb originated from, snakes are not toyed with. In some African traditions, snakes are reverred, and in others, it’s a delicacy or a deity. The proverb emphasises on the lethal poison, which is a feature snakes are known for. I can translate this proverb to if one doesn’t show his abilities, he may be taken for granted.

Meaning: There are times when one defends one’s capability.

What do you think about this proverb? Do you know another African proverb? You can drop it here, and I will discuss it with you.

Categories
Africa proverbs quotes

African Proverb: Be Nice

Be nice to everyone. You never know who your in-laws are going to be.

We won’t know who can be of help tomorrow. Compassion and kindness are great virtues. It can open greater doors!

Ponder on this and have a goodnight. 💕

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love opinion proverbs

Igbo (African) Proverbs

Hello there! This is a post on selected Igbo proverbs. I wrote in the Igbo language, translated into English, and then gave its meaning. I did a blog post on sayings used in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe sometime ago. You can access it here. Have a great day!

1.

Igbo: Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe.

English: If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the foofoo before dipping it into the soup.

Meaning: One should learn to change tactics to suit a situation.

2.

Igbo: Onyeubiam adi(ghi) aza “Omeokachie.”

English: An indigent does not take the title of “Omeokachie” (i.e., one who completes whatever he puts his hand to)

Meaning: Don’t make false claims.

3.

Igbo: Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo, umuaka achiri ya hie nku.

English: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood.

Meaning: There are times when one defends one’s capability.

4.

Igbo: Ukpana okpoko gburu nti chiri ya.

English: The grasshopper that is killed by a Crow is deaf.

Meaning: Once forewarned of danger, flee except one is deaf.

5.

Igbo: O na-abu akota ihe ka ubi, e lee oba.

English: while farming, if one encounters what is more significant than the farm, one sells the barn.

Meaning: One who incurs what is beyond one’s ability may sell all one has.

6.

Igbo: Okirikiri k’ana gba ukwu ose, anaghi ari ya-elu

English: The pepper shrub is not climbed but circled.

Meaning: When faced with a dicey situation, approach it with caution.

7.

Igbo: Egbe bere, Ugo bere, nke si ibe ya ebena nku kwaa ya

English: Let the eagle perch, let the kite straddle; if one does not want the other to perch, may his wings break.

Meaning: Live and let live.

8.

Igbo: Ugo chara acha adi(ghi) echu echu

English: A mature eagle feather will ever remain pure.

Meaning: One well trained will stand the test of time.

9.

Igbo: Anaghi eji na aguu na-agu noo ukwara.

Meaning: No one swallows phlegm to appease the pangs of hunger.

10.

Igbo: E gbuo dike n’ogu uno, e ruo n’ogu agu e lote ya.

English: Kill a warrior during skirmishes at home, you will remember him when fighting enemies.

Meaning: Don’t destroy your leaders.

11.

Igbo: Aka a na-ana dike bu itube ya (abuba) ugo.

English: Appropriate handshake for the brave is to cap him with an eagle feather.

Meaning: Noble deeds should be appreciated.

12.

Igbo: Oke soro ngwere ma mmiri, mmiri guoro ngwere agagi ako oke.

English: When a rat swims with a lizard, his hairs won’t dry as the lizards.

Don’t do what others are doing; you are not the same.

Meaning: We shouldn’t copy others just for the sake of copying. Every human has a distinct identity.

13.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na olu oha di mma, mana oriri oha na-aka ahu.

English: The tortoise said that many hands at work are enjoyable, but many mouths to feed can be embarrassing.

Meaning: It is not easy to feed many mouths.

14.

Igbo: Nkụ onye kpara n’ọkọchị ka ọna anya n’udu mmiri.

English: One’s actions today will determine his position in the future

Meaning: Good or bad; today’s acts may either come back to bless or to haunt.

15.

Igbo: Ngwere nile makpu àfọ n’ala, mana onweghị onye ma nke àfọ n’asa.

Meaning: Everybody in this world have one or two problems; it’s only our dressing that covers it.

16.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù mkweke, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

17.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na e jighi ehi kwa nne ya di na nso, mana a si ya wete na ya enweghi.

English: The (king) tortoise said it is an abomination not to conduct his mother’s funeral with a cow, but if asked to produce one, he couldn’t afford it.

Meaning: Emphasizing the importance of the necessity of an object even though one cannot afford it.

18.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na nsogbu bu nke ya, ya jiri kworo ya n’azu

English: The tortoise said that trouble is its own; that’s why it carries trouble on its back

Meaning: One should try and shoulder one’s burdens and responsibilities.

19.

Igbo: Ada agwa ochi nti n’agha esula.

English: You don’t tell the deaf that war has broken out.

Meaning: Some things need not be announced. Their occurrence stands as enough announcement.

20.

Igbo: Ukwa rue oge ya, o daa.

English: There’s time for everything.

Meaning: Things should be done when the time is right for them.

21.

Igbo: Udene na egbe anaghi azo nri: udene na-eri ozu; egbe na-ebu na nkike.
English: The vulture and the kite do not scramble for food: the vulture is a scavenger; the kite, a predator.

Meaning: Don’t demean yourself by competing below your level.

22.

Igbo: Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu.

English: Salute the deaf; if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will listen to.

Meaning: Let’s endeavor to do right even if no one is watching.

23.

Igbo: Oboloko abughi aha ejiri luta nwanyi, kama obu aha onwu di guru ya.

English: Widow is not a woman’s maiden name, but it is due to her husband’s death.

Meaning: Nobody likes suffering, but it is always a dire circumstance that leads to it.

24.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù make, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nigeria opinion proverbs

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Proverbs and Meaning

Onye aturu ilu kowaa ya, ego eji luo nne ya efuola ohia.

Before I start this post permit me to greet Igbo people; those who own the proverbs I’m about to explore; Ndi Igbo kwenu! Ekelem unu o. Ndewonu.


•Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on Igbo traditional Isi-agu attire

INTRODUCTION: PROVERBS

There are many definitions for proverbs but as it is said that all routes lead to Rome, we won’t go far. Instead we’ll look at a definition that highlights the key points we seek. Proverb (Ilu in Igbo language) is a phrase expressing a basic truth which maybe applied to common situations. The Igbo defined it thus: Ilu bu mmanu eji eri okwu, (meaning that proverbs are oil with which we eat words). This explains literally that words are eaten and that proverbs helps to digest it. Proverbs are at the center of every African conversation. The traditional village council convene in proverbs, the trader and blacksmith converse in proverbs, and children even play with it. Parents speak to little ones in proverbs, so a visitor may expose himself if he is unable to follow the community trend. It is common to hear people speak in proverbs in Africa. This proves that proverbs are very important in African societies. Likening it to the saying that the “Leopard can’t shed its spots” – the average African won’t speak much without using proverbs to oil the conversation. African proverbs are rich sources of wit and wisdom. Now let us look at the proverbs we encounter in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

PROVERBS IN THINGS FALL APART AND THEIR EXPLANATION

In the book “Things Fall Apart” the people of Umuofia which represented the larger African society used proverbs extensively. As a book set in pre-colonial times it dwells on the effects of colonialism and imperialism on the African society. In this section I’ll be exploring the proverbs Achebe mentioned in his book. I’ll explain its general meaning in context of modern usage. I will also set all proverbs on bolded letters.

1. Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.

This means that proverbs makes conversations easier and understandable. It suggests that proverbs are words of wit which gives deeper insight to statements.

2. If a child washes his hands he can eat with kings.

In ancient Igbo culture children are not allowed to eat with elders from the same plate. This is a show of respect and honour. So this means that a child is allowed to dine with his elders or the king only if he achieves or did something exceptionally great.

3. When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for walk.

This may read hilarious, the cripple is basically someone who has lost ability to walk. This proverb is talking about enticing opportunities that may strike up unrealistic hope.

4. A man who pays respect to the great, paves the way for his own greatness.

Is it not said that respect is reciprocal? Only that in this case we are more tilted to giving honour to whom it is due. The Igbo is a very proud people, they are known to disregard unfavorable royal order. It is believed that every man is king in his own house. Respect is earned and not just attributed in Igbo and other African societies.

5. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other let his wings break.

In Igbo land the general philosophy is live and let live. This proverb summarize this philosophy.

6. An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned.

People tend to be uncomfortable when negative issues concerning them are discussed.

7. Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching.

This talks about understanding strategies one can use to overcome issues. Life is dynamic, and people must learn to change with it.

8. Looking at the King’s mouth one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breasts.

If you consider how arrogant people talk or behave you may think they are invisible. We can also say that the king actually is representing the crown and thus say that he is too confident that one may think he is fearless. Which may not always be the case.

9. Those whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.

Some people are just privileged in life, while many are not. Some inherit wealth and empires while others had to build from the scratch as the case of Okonkwo in the book. The proverb speaks of being humble when one is more privileged than others.

10. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride.

This suggest that proud people may never know when they fail because of their attitude.

11. When mother cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth.

This suggests that we teach by our actions or deeds.

12. A baby on its mother’s back does not know the way is long.

It is left for the one who works hard to determine how much hard work he did. You can feed people with your earnings but not everyone knows how much time and effort you had to work.

13. If one finger brought oil it soils the others.

This explains that one persons action may affect everyone.

14. There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.

In Igbo land it is always assumed that people who make noise are cowards. The English version is the empty drum makes the loudest noise.

15. A child can not pay for his mother’s milk.

This explains itself. One won’t pay for what rightly belongs to him.

16. Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, know that something is after its life.

People do not visit another for nothing. They might have come to ask for help. Something must be the reason for every action. Another version of this is the toad does not jump during the day if nothing is pursuing it.


The explanation for the Proverbs are my opinion. I’m available for discussion on African literature and Igbo culture/traditions. Drop a comment or query here or on the contact me page.

© Oke Iroegbu

Categories
Poetry proverbs quotes reflection

Quote: Compassion & Confidence