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African Proverb of the Month
January, 2006

Ta n-ameri salah, ta n-amiksan sadsa. (Tuareg)
The (word) of a friend makes you cry; the (word) of an enemy makes you laugh. (English)
La (parole) d'un ami fait pleurer, la (parole) d'un ennemi fait rire. (French)

Tuareg (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) Proverb

Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

The Tuaregs are a nomadic people of the central and western Sahara and along the middle Niger from Tombouctou to Nigeria. Interpersonal relationships are very close and tight in the Tuareg society.

Advice given by someone who has your best interests at heart is sometimes unpleasant and even painful, but the person who seeks your downfall may deliberately encourage you toward hidden danger with advice that seems pleasant and good. This Tuareg proverb is used in two ways: either as an encouragement to take harsh advice from a friend in the spirit it is intended, or as a warning not to follow the deceptively attractive advice of someone who doesn't have our interests at heart.

Biblical Parallels

Proverbs 27:6: "Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy."

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

For the Tuaregs and indeed for all people everywhere, there is a great need for discernment regarding the company we keep and the advice we take.

From an anonymous contributor.

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