Proverbs – Well of wisdom

People can be diffident and hard to be convinced. At least this is what they say in Cameroon, because “if a bird does not recognize a tree, it will not rest on it”.  Yet, Senegalese know that quality attracts people more than just words: “all birds will flock to a fruitful tree. So watch out for the best deal around, and do not be too eager to believe in others’ good intentions: “Each one brings the fire closest to his bread”, the Libyans say. After all, the Ibos of Nigeria say “words are sweet, but they never take the place of food”.
“Loving someone that does not love you is like loving the rain that falls in the forest”, they say in West Africa. A little cynical, perhaps, but a reminder that in life one must always on guard: “the wise man never takes a step too long for his leg”. Yet, believing in people is essential, “the bull should be taken by the horns, a man at his word”. Keeping i mind that sycophants do exist: “Even without drumbeats, banana leaves dance”, they say in the Congo.
Try to have good relations with all, “the best bed that a man can sleep on is peace”, the Somali say. You might need help: “if one tree faces the storm alone, it collapses”; or maybe you will have to face who is stronger than you: “the tracks of the elephant cancel those of the antelope”. One is also to grow the right relationP2ship, “Don’t ask a deaf man to beat the drums for you to dance”; for “useless talk does not bring about a solution”. So try to be reasonable, after all “even the Niger River must flow around an island”, say the Hausa, or “a stubborn chicken learns its lesson in a hot pot of soup”.
“Once the mushroom has sprouted from the earth, there is no turning back”, when you take decisions, be ready to go all the way: “a lamb that decides to act like a wolf should be ready for the hunters arrows”. In fact, “if you plant olives but do not prune the tree, your oil will be good only for donkeys”. The answer – the Ovambo of Namibia say – is to work hard, “if you do not gather firewood you cannot keep warm”, and do what you can, “if you cannot do anything against the water that drowns you,P3 be wise and at least and swallow it until your last breath”. And when evening come “if the sun starts to move west, find a shady tree”, remembering that “if the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?”
Relationships are difficult, “the heart rules without rules”; and it is not always easy to be truthful to everyone, “lies that build are better than truths that destroy” even if “a lie can annihilate a thousand truths”. This reminds us to check why we say white lies, “if your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips”. Better be honest and place the good of the other ahead of everything, “by being grateful, a man makes himself deserving of yet another kindness”. This will gain you friends, and “a frieP4nd is like a source of water during a long voyage”. However, do not fear speaking up, for “silence is the door of consent”.
“You think of water when the well is empty” while it would be better to prepare for the events of life: “The fish, seeing the water has dried up, struggles mightily in the mud”. The solution might be in allying with others: “he ties established between two families by a happy marriage are stronger than those of money”, and “the one who loves an unsightly person is the one who makes her beautiful”. An ally is trustworthy, “two rams do not drink from the same water hole at the same time, but well-bred human beings can”. And be generous: “if you have a lot, give some of your possessions; if you have little; give some of your heart”.


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