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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019
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African Proverb of the Month
June, 2005

Waalombwelwa noyi niiso paantu. (Oshiwambo)
If you do not listen to good advice, you will be embarrassed in public. (English)

Oshiwambo (Namibia) Proverb

Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

Every society has cultural values and norms that give advice to people in order to help them grow more humane and follow the right way of life. This advice helps people to be successful in their lives and to be good examples to others in society. Normally it is the elders who have the responsibility to impart wisdom, good norms, and good advice to young people. This is what is practiced by the Owambo people who are an ethnic group in the northern part of Namibia.

Language is one of the basic means of education and passing on advice. Oshindonga, the language of the Ndonga people, is one of the seven dialects of Oshiwambo, the language of the Owambo Ethnic Group. Everyday young people are told to behave. Those who do not want to listen and to take good advice due to pride, disobedience, or contempt find themselves in danger or in difficult or unpleasant situations.

A typical use of this Oshiwambo proverb in Namibia is when a person is advised to clean a spot or dirt on his or her clothes. When this is not done, the person is later embarrassed in public.

Biblical Parallels

The Sacred Scriptures provides the norms of our faith and help us to lead a righteous life. The Ten Commandments form our life (Exodus 20:1-17).

Since elders are perceived as the parents of society, what they say ought to be appropriate and precious as gold (Proverbs 25:11-12) at all times. The Word of God, the foremost elder, is truth (Proverbs 30:5). The instructions that God gives to humankind are formidable and will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8), not pass away (Luke 21:33), and were there right from the beginning (John 1:1).

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

As young people become more educated, they tend to reject the advice of the elders. Many youth in Namibia today focus on material things. They are self centered and do whatever they want. They did not like to listen to advice beforehand. As a result some get involved in sex before marriage that leads to unwanted pregnancies and even sexual transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. They realize that they have made a mistake only when they are already in trouble.

Wilhelm Eita
St. Charles Lwanga Major Seminary
P.O. Box 40376
Windhoek, Namibia

E-Mail: Eita< This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >