#day11 #WinterABC2020 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge
I am of Sotho origin from Matebeleland South in Zimbabwe with a Ndebele mother, raised in a predominately Shona environment in Mashonaland , who learnt Shona in primary school and now lives among the Nambiya , Batonga and Lozwi in Matebeleland North and , so , to do my Zimbabwean proverbs in one vernacular would be an injustice although l lean easily on the language l learnt in school.My children are born from a Zezuru father who comes from Uzumba in Mashonaland East , to a Sotho mother and we are living among the Nambiya and Batonga in Matebeleland North while she is learning Ndebele in school- it’s all so ironic. So when l ask my daughter who is nine for her proverbs she tells me in Ndebele yet she is Shona and my husband tells me his in Shona and l know mine both in Shona and Ndebele, l decided to do a direct translation of five Zimbabwean proverbs straight into English, however , because it is a direct translation it comes across as a good movie with poor subtitles .
Zimbabwean proverbs cut across all our cultures and represent our journey as bantu people and are mostly seen as warnings to those about to fall into traps. Concieved by expermustiance and the journey of time they take after our African culture of not speaking directly so as to avoid the consternation of ‘ l told you so ‘ and to avoid to be seen to be wishing ill on others when giving advice in good faith.
My first proverb is ‘ Goat eating tree leaves , it is like mother ‘ basically put it is to say that a fruit does not fall too far away from the tree.A child takes the habits and mannerisms of parents.One must never be surprised at a young goat eating the leaves of the mufenje tree because the mother also eats the same tree leaves-the child has grown and seen the mother eating leaves and assumed the same nature. Unfortunately it is seldom used in a good way but rather to express dismay at a child taking after the mother and the father in particular the mother who might have a bad habit of stealing or straying eyes.
My second proverb is’
‘ Big Baboon fold your tail so the little ones can fear you.’ This is a call to grown ups to behave in a manner worthy of respect.It calls out for adults to give young people space so that the same young people can afford the elders a platform rather than playing tango and fighting for space with the young . Unfortunately this proverb seems to fall on dead ears nowadays in Africa, as old people seek to hold on to resources and opportunities without affording young people a platform and when the young people retaliate when they get an opportunity then the same will cry ‘ mavara angu azara ivhu’ an African idiom by a cheetah which means to say they have ruined my marks by covering me in dirt.
My next proverb is ‘Wasp fold yourself in one place the flowers of the earth do not end.’ It is speaking to that particular stage in life when one always seems to be attracted to different partners seeking different adventures like a wasp looking for nectar in the different wild flowers attracted by the diverse colors only to not realise that flowers will always be there and one will not be able to finish all of the flowers in the wild.Mostly used to admonish young men to find solace and permanency in one young lady because there is a peril in searching for young beautiful flowers at every turn the flowers representing beautiful or handsome prospects.
In an endeavor to encourage team work our elders produced the proverb ‘One must smell their own armpits’. One would need to check one self before hoping to involve themselves in others people’s business.The scenario being that usually there is a proverbial smell in all of us that we carry.Clearly not conceived with perfumes in mind.
My final proverb is ‘ leave well where you are from , travels are engulfed with darkness’ . This is a call to ensure that whenever one leaves a place it is always a good thing to leave in peace and in good standing with the dwellers there because it is never a guarantee it shall go well with you where you are going and as such you might need to return or need a referral.
I love these Zimbabwean proverbs and hope you find hope , solace and advice in them as we do in our own lives.