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African Proverb of The Month
May 2010


Ntondo ikatondolaga. (Sukuma)
Kesho hufanya ijulikane mambo yake. (Swahili)
Demain se fait connaître demain. (French)
Tomorrow makes known to us what tomorrow will bring. (English)

Sukuma (Tanzania) Proverb

Background, Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

This Sukuma proverb in Tanzania has a play on words. Ntondo means “tomorrow.” Kutondola means “to reveal” and also “to shell peanuts.” The Sukuma people use this proverb in relation to shelling peanuts. When you break the shell you do not know what is inside – a ripe peanut or a rotten peanut. So to shell peanuts is to reveal something that is unknown or hidden. The meaning is that we can’t know today what will happen tomorrow. What is hidden today will be revealed tomorrow.

Biblical Parallels

Peanuts Matthew 6:25-34: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.”

1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

Our attitude in life should be to trust in God’s love. Don’t worry. This is the sacrament of the present moment. Worrying about tomorrow takes you away from living in the present moment of God’s love. Those who hope in the Lord renew their strength. Wings come to them like eagles. They run without weariness. They walk without fatigue. In the book Story of a Soul St. Therese of Lisieux says: “I find that we who run along the way of love must not think of anything painful that can happen to us in the future for this is lacking in trust and is like meddling in creation.”

In African cultures we are often paralyzed by fear (witchcraft, superstition, etc.) that enslaves us and prevents us from loving God perfectly.

Rev. Donald Sybertz, M.M.
Ndoleleji Parish
P.O. Box 47
Shinyanga, Tanzania
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Illustrations provided by:

Professor Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: 254-723-307992
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Other Proverbs From The Same Ethnic Group

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