I’ve never been a proverbs kinda girl. In fact, realising that I’d have to share 5 proverbs, had me shooketh. My initial instinct was to turn to my old friend: google. Alas, I had an epiphany. I am the child of Nigerian immigrants! There’s bound to be a proverb or 50, that’s in my vernacular. And just as a side note, my identity is more than just my native country, so keep an eye out for the proverbs that have informed my vernacular from the country of my birth (United Kingdom) to my religion. So here it goes…
A tree cannot make a forest
I’ll give all credit where credit is due. This proverb is one of my dad’s most common things to say to me. I’ve always been an introvert. Right from when I was a child, I was slow to warm to people and would always try and suss people out before even thinking about getting close to them. It’s led people who know me to see me as “anti-social”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I really don’t mind people, I’m just cautious.
A tree cannot make a forest, is one of those proverbs that really speaks for itself. You cannot do everything alone. One must be open to collaborations and cooperation in order to achieve things.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom
This is a proverb from Christianity and can be found in….wait for it…the book of proverbs! The meaning of this proverb has been discussed extensively by scholars. My own interpretation is simple. If God is the creator of heaven and earth, an impossible feat by any standard, this tells us that HE is beyond understanding. HIS wisdom is unfathomable, so in revering HIM, we instantly show our own wisdom in deferring to the ONE with the most wisdom.
To really understand this proverb, one needs an understanding of the Hebrew language. “Yirat Adonai”, which means fear of the LORD, refers to being devoted to GOD. In being in awe of GOD, one essentially shows deference which is what one should do in the presence of ones master.
Probably the hardest of my 5 proverbs to explain, but hopefully it makes some sense. And in case you’re wondering: Yes, I speak Hebrew.
Two wrongs don’t make a right
This is probably the one proverb that I find both true and annoying. Like yes, I know that one should not repay one bad deed with another. However it is such a difficult proverb to live by. It feels great to be the “bigger person” in certain situations. But at the same time, it can be difficult to sit with knowing that someone has wronged you and seems to have gotten away with it scot free! In any case, despite it being a little controversial, it’s a very common proverb.
Better safe than sorry
Another very common proverb. This proverb is one that probably describes me down to a tea. I like to plan, be meticulous and avoid all kinds of problems. This proverb speaks to the need to being careful even if you don’t think it is necessary. Regret is one hell of a b***h, so if you’re anything like me, this is probably a good proverb to live by.
When in Rome, do as the Romans
I couldn’t finish off my top five list of proverbs without having a travel related one! To be honest, this proverb has less to do with travel and more to do with the ability to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings. If you are in a new environment, it’s worth emulating those customs rather than holding on rigidly to what you know. In doing so, you learn new things, get along with those you’ve joined as well as demonstrate your ability to be flexible.
I find that this works a treat when I travel back home to Lagos. I act like the locals, and in turn get treated like one. Well, not completely, lol, they can smell “dee ahbroad” on me a mile away . However, it helps me get by without too much difficult by reminding myself this is how Nigerians do it. Read about my trips to Nigeria here. And leave a comment with your favourite proverb from your country of origin.
I think this just might be one of the blog posts from the afrobloggers challenge that I revisit. the featured image of this post has a saying on it: which translates to “a Yoruba child that does not know Yoruba adages, will become friends with a search engine I laughed so hard because that Yoruba child is me. I am that Yoruba child. Please to any of my Yoruba followers begin dropping some “Owe’s” below for me. And for any first generation children reading this drop a , if you understand the struggle.