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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019

October, 2014 A wife is the wealth. Tembo (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC) Proverb

  E mukazi Buli Buaare. Tembo)
Mwanamke ni utajiri. (Swahili)
Femme est une richesse. (French)
A wife is the wealth. (English)

Tembo (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC) Proverb

Background, Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use

This Tembo proverb comes from South and Northern-Kivu province Kalehe territory, DRC. Marriage is very important ceremony for the Batembo people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marriage for them means that the family of the boy gives the dowry to the family of girl. Dowry gives respect, values and honor to a wife in the society because it is a sign of belonging. A wife who is not married even if is she staying with her husband is not respected and honored both in her family and her husband’s family, no matter the position she occupies.

During our forefathers’ time, no money was used. They used a rope (Buteyao: kamba ya pori ambayo inatoshwa ku Libondo) made of twigs of the palm. These ropes were made in a big number with different types and different values. They were a sign of honor and respect to the boy and girl who got married in a traditional festival during the marriage ceremony. Today we use money as dowry in the place of palm’s rope.

Having a wife is wealth. Arranging the marriage of your boy is giving him riches and wealth and respect and honor of the family. Before the marriage took place they used to do the investigation of the girls and boy’s families. He or she is from what family kind of family (poor or rich), tribe and clan. They should make sure to know even the kind of sicknesses in both families.

Biblical Parallels

The Bible tells us in Genesis 12:18, 21-24 how God honors marriage by saying that it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him, the writer of Proverbs 18:22 also says who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives from the lord. Getting a wife for your son it is a duty of responsible man. Genesis 24:3-4 when Abraham was old he asked his servant to go and get a wife for his son Isaac; But will go to my country and my own relative and get a wife for my son Isaac, After God created male and female. In Genesis 1:18 he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number.”

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a summary showing how a wife is a source of wealth in the family, started by a question a wife of noble character who can find? She bring him good not harm all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and work with eager hands. She is like the merchant chips bringing her food from afar. She gets up while is still dark and she provides food for her servant girls.

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

According to Batembo wisdom young men should get a wife while their parents are still alive this would prepare them to take care of their own family because a young girl who is becoming a wife can learn many things from her mother in law. That is why as I said above all man responsible has a dowry of working hard to get dowry so that his son may get a wife his at live time. Failure to do so would give your son miserable life and there will be not respect for both; the father who his son who the father left without getting marriage.
This proverbs teaches us to be responsible as parents and know our duty to get a wife for our son when we are still alive, It continues teaching the values and the important of the wife in the family, cf. Proverbs 31:10-31.

In connection to this proverb let us put emphasis on the African culture where the wife will contribute for the family and have many children. And children are the source of wealth. So without a wife you will not have children. This concept it is shared by many African cultures such as Burundi, DRC. Somalia. Sudan and Tanzania.

Up to now a Mutembo is responsible for the dowry and getting a wife for his son before he dies. This Tembo proverb teaches that a wife is the wealth of the family and parents should make sure that their children get wives during their lifetimes. Let us open our hearts and learn from this Tembo proverb.

Note: This proverb is No. 21 in 100 Chitembo Proverbs by Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin; Rev. Ongo Abikire, Noel Maleo Mwengerwa and Mr. Mingu Ishiabwe in collaboration with the African Proverbs Working Group, Bukavu, D.R.C. It will be posted as an Ebook on website at:,html


Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin
African Proverbs Working Group
P.O. BOX 2110, Bukavu
P.O. BOX 150, Cyangugu, Rwanda
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Cephas Yao Agbemenu 
Department of Art and Design
Kenyatta University
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