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African Proverbs of The Month
August, 2011

Reeds bring waterBinto mbikone: sasati eibora mache, rosana rwaibora inko, namorero oibora ibu. (Gusii)
Mambo ni ya maajabu: matete huzaa maji, misitu huzaa kuni na moto huzaa majivu. (Swahili)
Les choses sont miraculeuses: les roseaux produisent de l’eau, les forêts produisent les bois de chauffages et le feu produit des cendres. (French)
Things are miraculous: reeds produce water, forests produce firewood and fire produce ashes. (English)

Gusii (Kenya) Proverb

Background, Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

Forests bring firewoodIn Gusii society this proverb is used to remind people that there is a mysterious power behind creation that implies that what might “appear” as unrelated and unconnected are really related and connected. There is a plan or rule or law for the care of the environment. It was vital for people to follow the chain of nature as necessary for their survival. The parts of this chain of nature are interdependent.  If one of them is destroyed, then life for both humans and animals is left uncertain. It also insists on the three basic daily needs of water, firewood and fire as quick means to plan for now, tomorrow and the future.

Biblical Parallels

Job 9:10: “He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning.”

Sirach 33:3: “A prudent person trusts in the word of the Lord, and the law is as dependable for him or her as a divine oracle.”

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

Firewood bring ashesClimate change, little rainfall and the warming of the earth are factors to be reckoned with as threats to food security in Africa for both humans and animals. Reforestation and deposition of waste products are urgently needed.

Both humans and animals are dependent on their environment and this chain of dependence is healthy to the earth on which we all live.

Mr. Evans K. Nyakundi
Hekima College Library
P.O. Box 21215
00505 Adams Arcade
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: 0722-566445
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photographs provided by:

Professor Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: 0723-307992
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it