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African Proverb of the Month
Aug, 2006

Otakubuza Lukole wahikile Mubaga. (Subi)
Usiulize Lukole wakati umeishafika Mubaga. (Swahili)
Don’t ask for Lukole when you have already reached [the village of] Mubaga. (Literal English Translation)
Don’t ask for Glasgow when you have already reached London. (Figurative English Meaning)


Subi (Tanzania) Proverb

Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

You are a traveller. You need to discover many local things before feeling at ease and at home in a new place. This needs time, language, customs, and good relations with people. These are gradual acquisitions. You can't speed up any element of the complex new life in which you will be welcomed. To be rid of your characteristics of "foreigner" and to be accepted as a person equally among other persons is not a matter of competition. Don't be in a hurry. This Tanzanian proverb advises that you shouldn’t be in a hurry especially if you have no idea of the local countryside.

Biblical Parallels

Simon Peter, after a frustrating night of fishing, was longing to rest. A preacher, Jesus of Nazareth told him: "Let us go again on the lake. I would like to discover your background, your daily realities." Then the presence of Jesus, supposedly ignorant in the matters of fishing, curiously changed the rhythm of the exhausting work and the need of enjoying the fish market, the parties following it, and the long siesta before awakening in the middle of the night for a new try on the sea.

After this experience Simon Peter was amazed at the abundance in its own boat. But Jesus told him: "It is just the beginning with you! It will happen all of the time if you are to fish with me. Fisherman, one day you will fish for people in troubled waters. Peter, more or less interested, invited the preacher in his own boat with all the followers close by.

After a long series of ups and downs, it was forecast for Peter: "When you will be an old man, you will be a prisoner. They will bind you hand and foot. Go on and follow me. Even for me, the way was not so easy! Don’t be jealous if my other friend John goes another way." (Based on various texts in the Four Gospels).

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

The year 2005 witnessed the slow demise of Pope John Paul II's life and his death. There was general consternation during his sickness. A huge number of the worldly congregation of people of all religions, of all cultures, of all ages followed the events in Rome. His sickness and weakness was a real example of his humanity for such a giant modern apostle -- similar to Peter and others of the original 12 apostles.

Like traveling, life is a series of ups and downs and needs patience and perseverance. NOTE: See in the Select Bibliography of this website Proverb No. 66 in the Collection of 186 Subi Proverbs along the borders of Tanzania and Rwanda (Ngara, Rulenge, Biharamulo and Kibondo). Collected by Joseph Nkumbulwa with the help of Max Tertrais, M. Afr. in conjunction with the Sukuma Research Committee, Sukuma Cultural Centre, Bujora, P. O. Box 76. Mwanza, Tanzania. "Endangered African Proverbs Collections: A Continuation of the African Proverbs Project." Mwanza, Tanzania: Privately Duplicated, February 2005.

Mr. Joseph Nkumbulwa
c/o Katekista Clementi
Mtaa Butambara,
Nifa Jeneri
S.L.P. 65
Ushirombo, Tanzania

Rev. Max Tertrais, M.Afr.
Kaniha Parish
P.O. Box 896
Uyovu via Kahama, Tanzania