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Site Last Update: 11 Dec, 2019

February, 2017 The parent who corrects his or her child with a rod does not sin. Bangubangu (Democratic Republic of the Congo -- DRC) Proverb

  Atika mutosi ndaaluhega mwana. (Bangubangu)
Mzazi arekebishaye mtoto wake makosa kwa kiboko, hajakosea. (Swahili)
Le bâton d’un parent qui corrige son enfant ne lui fait du mal. (French)
The parent who corrects his or her child with a rod does not sin. (English)

Bangubangu (Democratic Republic of the Congo -- DRC) Proverb

Background, Meaning and Everyday Use of the Proverb

Bangubangu is an ethnic group from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, primarily in the Kabambare Territory; they speak the Bangubangu language. The Bangubangu recognize a supreme god (Viilie Nambi), and religious worship is focused on the ancestors. Shrines are built to appease family spirits, and there is a strong belief in Mujimu spirits who serve as an intermediary between humans and God. A strong Islamic influence is also seen in the region, particularly in the fear of malevolent spirits (djinns) who must be appeased. Within the Bangubangu communities, diviners, blacksmiths, and waganga are invested with religious power.

Discipline is helping your child learning how to behave as well as how not to behave. It works well when you have a warm and loving relationship with your child. Discipline doesn’t always mean punishment. Discipline is positive and builds on talking and listening. However, it guides a child toward knowing appropriate behaviors, managing them and learn to understand. A parent who beats his son or daughter with a rod doesn’t sin, but may delivers him or her from sin.

Generally, children are blessings and belong to God. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “suffer the little children, and do not forbid them to come unto me: for to such belong the kingdom of heaven.” But sometimes they seem to be a burden, as this Swahili proverb says, kuzaa mwana si kazi, kazi ni kulea that means, it’s not hard work to bear a child, but the work is to nurture him/her. To the Bangubangu people children are not a burden but are more of a blessing. Talking about discipline is very important because it defines a person from his/her eternal aspects such as morality, loyalty, kindness. Once a person lacks one of these aspects, he or she can definitely become immoral.

For the Bangubangu people a parent was not allowed to punish his/her child for a fault to which he or she confesses as it is said, a confessed fault is half forgiven. There was not any other way. but to forgive this child although he or she tells lies. And if this child continues with his or here bad behavior, the family would take him to the Council of Elders for counselling, and here the child would be warned.

Biblical Parallels

Proverbs 23:14: “A rod harms the body to save and preserve the soul.”

Hebrews 12:5-7: “You have forgotten the exhortation which reasoned with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; For whom the Lord loved he chastened, And scourged every son whom he received. It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealt with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chastened not?”

Ezra 9:13: “And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such a remnant”. This proverb is usually used to warn children who seem disrespectful to their parents and encourage parents to act necessarily in any way to help and protect their household.”

1 Timothy 3:4: “One that ruled well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; but if a man knows not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”


Contemporary Use and Religious Application

A child belongs to a family, to a community in Africa. While he or she is at a young age, the child is under the support, terms and regulations of his or her parents. But in this contemporary generation things are getting worst. Sometimes young people when they see that there is lack of a specific constraint in their home, they automatically start ruling themselves. That why in today’s world we are experiencing young people being addicted by drugs and others are radicalized by terrorist groups as this Bembe proverb says, yalala amboka eshile wale, that means that when a chicken spends a night outside its coop, it becomes a partridge.

Literally, once your child joins one of the gangster groups, he or she is no longer yours, because he or she becomes hostile to everybody in the community. To avoid all this, parents are asked to build a family foundation through the church. Luke 6:48: “He is like a man building a house, who dug and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: and when a flood arose, the stream brake against that house, and could not shake it: because it had been well built.” Together with church leaders they keep on showing children the real way to follow so that they can tackle these serious issues of indiscipline and hostility. Jesus said in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Thus, if parents can keep all their households connected to the church, they will be definitely considered as good shepherds.


Elias Bushiri Elie
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: +254 735 973 276/ +254 792 556 909
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Photographs provided by:

Cephas Yao Agbemenu 
Department of Fine Arts
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: +254 723-307992
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