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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019

April 2016 A funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation. Nyala (Kenya) Proverb

  Akavia kakhuanyisivyanga mumasika. (Nyala)
Mazishi hutoa nafasi ya Upatanisho. (Kiswahili)
Le deuil est une occasion de réconciliation. (French)
A funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation. (English)

Nyala (Kenya) Proverb

Background, Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use

The Abanyala is a small dialect of larger Luhya Ethnic Group (also known as Abaluyia or Luyia) that is a Bantu ethnic group in Kenya. The whole Luhya community numbers about 5.3 million people, being about 16% of Kenya’s total population of 38.5 million, and are the second-largest ethnic group in Kenya. The Nyala (also known as AvaNyala, AbaNyala or WaNyala) are one of the 18 sub-groups of the Luhya in Kenya who are part of the wider Bantu people. Death in Nyala land was a family and community affair as a whole. People came together to ensure their community member, colleague, friend, loved one was given a good deserving farewell and last respect. People put aside their differences and worked together to ensure this is done.

History of the proverb

The Abanyala people practice polygamy where one man had several wives in a home called “redala.” Every wife had there thatched house in the same ”ridala” and people of the extended family lived together. With many relative living close to each other, it always brought conflict and rivalry between them on different issues and ideologies. The father was the head of the family unit and solved the problems at the family level. When an issue was bigger than the head of the family it was brought before the council of elders led by the chief. But whenever death occurred in the homestead, the family members would put aside their differences and work together in the process reconciling with each other.

Meaning and Everyday Use

When death faced a family, they all put their differences aside and worked together to resolve and support each other. They came together in solidarity to find solutions to their problems despite their differences. By working together those who wronged each other are offered the chance to ask for forgiveness and reconcile with their colleagues or relatives and loved ones. This would bring harmony and peace to the family which was once troubled. This proverb is used by Abanyala people every day to explain to others and young ones that sometimes it takes a tragedy for things to go back to the right path. It is also used to teach people that we should always forgive our brothers and sisters for the wrongs they have done to us to have peace in our hearts.

Biblical Parallels

“But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18)

Depiction of Jesus Christ as an African by the artist Cephas Agbemenu and Com. in 1998. Located at the Christ the Teacher Catholic Chapel in Kenyatta University on the Thika Highway in Nairobi, Kenya.

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

The contemporary African societies were cultured and valued on the principle of living together as a family and a community. Where there are many people differences always arise in opinion and ideologies, but it does not mean we have to remain enemies forever. A Ghanaian proverb says: Two calabashes on surface of water in a basin will by all means touch each other but not crash each other. We can always ask for forgiveness and reconcile with our brothers and sisters who wronged us. This principle is really fading away in the world as individualism and selfishness are the order of the day. As Christians we should care about our neighbors and help where we can.

In Christianity this proverb is relevant because God forgives us our sins every time we repent. He even sent us His begotten son to die for our sins. It is important for us Christians to forgive those who have done wrong against us as God our Father forgives us our sins.


Kevin Namatsi
P. O. Box 41362-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: 0715-307874
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photo of Jesus Christ as an African provided by:

Cephas Agbemenu, Snr. Lecturer
Dept of Fine Art and Design;
Kenyatta University.
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi KENYA.
Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cellphone: 0703-307992


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