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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019

June 2016 The person who sees the in-laws to be bad is not the engaged woman. Tembo (DRC) Proverb

Baaya munga si bataaya muati. (Tembo)
Mara nyingi huona mkwe vibaya si binti. (Swahili)
Souvent celui qui voit le beau-fils mal n’est pas la fille. (French)
The person who sees the in-laws to be bad is not the engaged woman. (English)

Tembo (DRC) Proverb

Background, Meaning and Everyday Use

Baaya munga si bataaya muati is No. 2 on the list of A Collection of 100 Tembo Proverbs. The Tembo people in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe that marriage is the foundation of the family. Therefore marriage is a family issue. It is why before the marriage takes place both the families of the boy and girl do an investigation to know the kind of family he and she are coming from. Poor or rich? Does the family live peaceful with its in–laws? Which clan? They try to make sure that they know the kind of sicknesses is in both families. They do all these things because the many problems affecting the marriage do not come from the couple but mostly come from the members of the families of both the boy and the girl.

Just after investigation the Tembo people do two important marriage ceremonies. The first is the family of the boy gives dowry to the family of the girl. The dowry is very important because it gives value, honor and respect to the wife in the family and society because it is a sign of belonging. A wife who stays with a man who has not given the dowry to her family is not respected by her in-laws in her family. A man who is living with a wife and has not given the dowry is not respected by his in-laws. It is always a source of problems in his marriage because he is considered like someone who is not married.

The second tradition is the festival marriage ceremony that is prepared by both families as a sign of honor and respect to both the boy and girl who are getting married. It is during this time that the girl’s family say goodbye to their daughter by offering her material things to enable her start a new life with her husband. The boy’s family prepares a big ceremony of receiving their daughter-in-law. It is God’s blessing for both parents to see their children get married while they are still alive. To the boy’s family having a wife is a sign of wealth, respect and honor in the family.


Biblical Parallels

The marriage is the first institution that God ordained in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:18 the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” “Why?” Because being alone without female companionship and a partner in reproduction, the man could not fully realize his humanity. See Genesis 1:27-28. The writer of proverbs says, “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents but a good wife is from God” (Proverbs 19:14).

For the Tembo people a responsible man has the obligation of getting a wife for his son. In Genesis 24:3-4 the Bible says when Abraham was old he told His servant to go and get a wife for his son Isaac: “I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven and God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of Canaanites among whom I am living, but you will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

As mentioned above, before the marriage takes place the Jewish people used to investigate because they do not like divorces afterwards. Matthew 19:3-6: Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any or every reason? Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the creator made male and female, and said this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together let man not separate.” See also Psalm 45:10, 11.


Contemporary Use and Religious Application

According to Tembo proverbs and wise sayings, marriage is the foundation of the family and people should take care of it. Proverbs 18:22 says: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord because a good wife is a blessing not only for his husband but for the entire family. For that reason they should do two things to prevent the problems that can a rise in the marriage:

  1. 1. Investigate the families of boys and girls like Abraham did in Genesis 24:3-4.
  2. A responsible man should work hard to get the dowry so that his son may get a wife when he is still alive. The Tembo people believe that dying without getting a wife for one’s son may make a man live a miserable life and there will be no respect to both the father and the son.

From this proverb we learned that as a parent we should be responsible and careful in preventing the problems that can a rise in our sons and daughters’ marriages by knowing the type of family in which they are going to get wife and husband from. This culture is not for Tembo people only, but for many ethnic groups and clans of South Kivu provinces such as Bembe, Bafero, Bavira and other African countries.

We humbly request that the members of the African Proverbs Working Group, the Tembo people and all people learn these Tembo proverbs so that they be able to prevent the problems that can a rise in the marriages of their sons and daughters.

Note: This proverb is No. 2 in A Collection of 100 Tembo Proverbs by:

Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin
Rev. Omeyo Abikure
Mr. Noel Mwengera
Mr. Mingu Ishiabwe

(Nairobi: Privately Printed, 2016).

Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: +254-721-925624
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Photographs provided by:

Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: +254 723-307992
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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