WHAT IS PROVERB:Proverb is a simple & concrete saying,popularly known & repeated,that expresses truth based on common sense or the practical experiences of humanity.The are often Metaphorical & it’s taken from a Latin word called “PROVERBIUM”.
Proverbs are infinitely more numerous than the Myths we spoke about in our last talk. Proverbs can be found in hundreds & thousands in every African tribes.The address themselves to themes and area of life & knowledge. Proverbs are very concentrated in the sense that they put a lot of thoughts,ideas,reflections,experiences,observations,knowledge & even world views into a few words. Shortly i shall be saying few proverbs & also try to capture what they intend to mean in a few words. It has been noted that women are extremely valuable in the sight of the society. Not only do we bear life,but we also nurse them,cherish them,give warmeth & care for life since all human life passes through our body. Now i will give us some proverbs to put more light on what am trying to say.
“Wives & Oxen have no friends”, What does this mean or indicates: It indicates that a wife is so valuable & that she can not be given over to even the best friends of her husband. For that reason,another proverbs remainds us that”A woman must not be killed”. My question now is,why that proverb?If a man & children can be killed,why not a woman? the reason why that proverb was said is because women are mothers of life & to kill women is like killing hundreds of children & humanity itself. Women should be handled with respect & not be treated as if they are slaves. The next proverb has to do with the man(Husband)which says & I quote”Did you buy me with elephant tusks? this kind of question can only be asked or said when the woman is being ill-treated by her husband.She reminds him that he really can not buy her,and that she is not a commodity for sale like elephant trunks or slaves,and even an old woman is a blessing to a man. And so another proverb says:”it is better to be married to an old lady than to remain unmarried”. This simply means that there are areas of human life which is only the woman can fulfill. The unmarried man is lacking something,as one proverb is explains:”It is at five that man succeeds”,This proverb was said by the Maasi who uses it to explain that a successful life needs “a wife,a cow,a sheep,a goat & a donkey”. This means that even if one is rich,one is not successful as long as one lacks a wife.
The value of the woman begins already when she was born and not when she gets married. So it is stated that”A baby girl means a beautiful cow”. Already at birth,the woman is destined to be married & in traditional African society,this entails a bride-exchange in form of cattle,services,foodstuffs,family ties or other expressions of the married contract. Further more,I will say that the woman will bear children 6 thus enrich her husband & the wider circle of relatives from both side. The Tsongkhapa & Shangana people of South Africa says and I quote”To beat a woman is to begat a man”. This saying carries with it the hope & expectations,that after marriage,the wife will bear both girls & boys. Therefore,the woman that is not married has practically no role in the society & in African traditional world-view. It ia expected n that all women gets married & so comes this proverb that says:”An ugly girl does not become old at home”, which means that the looks of a girl should not stop her from getting married,otherwise this would deny her the role of womanhood.
This thought is bound up with the value of bearing children; Whereas the childless woman goes through deep sorrows in African society. So it is said for example:”That the woman who has children does not desert her home”. This means that bearing children gives the woman the security & joy of a family, and also being taken care of in her old age,of being respected by her husband & the wider society.
So “The woman whose sons or children have died is richer than a barren woman”, This means that people will excuse a woman for loosing her child or children through death,but the one who does not bear any,is hardly excused.
Consequently,people says:”A barren wire never gives thanks”, Therefore nothing else is as valuable as children; If a woman has everything else except children,she would have no cause or joy to give thanks. This sentiment is expressed in African society,where the more children one has,the better. No wonder the Ghanaian says:”A serviceable wife is often blessed with the birth of a tenth child”. Parental blessings often run along the lines of:”May you bear children like the bees!, May you bear children like calabash seeds!”, e,t,c. But today’s economical & educational pressure have forced a change in these sentiments,where parents reel the need to reduce the number of children they can support & educate adequately. Nevertheless,African society is carried away by the proverb which says:”The satiety of a pregnant woman is off-spring” Meaning that Motherhood is a woman’s fulfillment.
The mother or wife is probably the most important member of the family,the center of family hood. So it is said by The Akamba people of Kenya for example that”He who has never traveled,thinks that his mother is the best cook in the world”. This proverb,while attacking a narrow horizon in life shows how central the person of a mother is. This sentiment was also aired in another proverb from the Gikuyu of Kenya:”The baby that refuses it’s mother’s breast,will never be full,”other people may feed the baby,/child,but their food would never satisfy him as that provided by the mother”. In these proverb,the place of a mother is further indicated by comparing her with other women or wives,whether she is alive or dead. The Easter Africa people,specifically The Swahilis,says categorically that”The step mother is not the real mother”. This sentiment is shared by other people & is expressed in various ways e,g.”Somebody’s mother can never be better than your own mother,no matter how good she may be to you,or”Your step mother is not your mother,or “A sheep does not lament the death of a goat’s kid.” The above proverb came from the Acholi of Uganda. The South Africans have this proverb that says”The mother’s breast can not get Leprosy”. All these & many more proverbs are indicating that mother’s role can never be 100% duplicated: She provides the best love tenderness,warmeth,care,bodily & emotional nourishment & much more. All these begins when a person is inside the mother’s womb & lasts untill the mother dies or indeed,it continues when she dies & become a spirit,a living dead.
Therefore it is necessary that the love,care & tenderness are all reciprocated by everyone towards his or her mother,since everyone of us has a mother. So we hear such proverbs as “A child does not laugh at the ugliness of his/her mother”. The Kenyans put their own as this, & I quote”The mother of the big he-goat has no horns’! This last proverb indicates that all the “big men” e,g,The Artists,Generals,Presidents,Bishops,doctors,Professors,Inventors,Singers, Scientist,Teachers e.t.c are all born of a woman,of a mother who may not herself be regarded as a big person in the society,she may not have”horns”,but she gives birth to a big person in the society.