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Site Last Update: 24 Jun, 2017
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African Proverb of the Month,
August 1998

Atannayita: y'atenda nnyina obufumbi (=okufumba)
The person who has not traveled widely thinks his or her mother is the only cook (the best cook).

Ganda (Uganda)

Also found in:
Akamba and Gikuyu (Kenya)
Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria)
Haya (Tanzania)
Bemba (Zambia)

Explanation

This Ugandan proverb (found in many African languages to produce a continent-wide proverb cluster) describes a person who remains at home without visiting other people and without traveling to other places. The person is used to his or her home only and to the food in his or her own home. But the proverb teaches the very opposite value to just staying at home and encourages people to go out and learn from others. Without doing this human beings can be self- centered and think that they are better than others. By staying in their own little world people become isolated.

This and similar African proverbs point to the same universal truth. If people stay in the same place, if human beings are confined to a particular country or group of people or point of view or ideology, then they can remain individualistic, provincial, tribalistic, nationalistic, and racialistic. Thus people stay in their narrow, ghetto-like worlds.

But this Ganda proverb teaches the universal human experience of moving out, of going elsewhere. This reaching out experience is a learning experience as seen in many similar African proverbs and sayings. Traveling broadens the mind and enlarges one's experience. The missionary experience is very similar. It is an experience of moving out and reaching out. "And Jesus said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). Missionaries are not meant to look inward only but to reach out. Missionaries are called to explore new vistas and new ways of doing things, to be flexible and ready for new experiences. Missionaries adapt to new and unexpected situations.

Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

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Other Proverbs From The Same Ethnic Group


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