Mukaji utu wasangana nzubu, katu wasangana biuma. (Luba-Kasai)
Mwanamke hupata nyumba likiwa tupu, sio likiwa na utajiri. (Swahili)
La femme trouve une maison vide, elle ne trouve pas la richesse. (French)
The woman finds an empty house, she doesn’t find riches. (English)
Background, Explanation, History and Everyday Use
The Luba-Kasai language in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is widespread in Kasaï Occidental and Kasaï Oriental provinces. The 1991 United Bible Society census listed 6,300,000 speakers that have now increased to about 9,500,000 speakers. Alternate names are Luba-Lulua, Luva, Tshiluba, Western Luba. It is one of the four national languages in DRC along with Lingala, Kongo and Swahili.
The meaning of the proverb is that the woman who goes to live with her husband for the first time will find an empty house and together they will work hand in hand to build wealth. The English equivalent is behind every successful man there is a woman.
10 The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.
11 When goods increase, those who eat them increase; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes?
12 Sweet is the sleep of laborers, whether they eat little or much; but the surfeit of the rich will not let them sleep.
13 There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owners to their hurt,
14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture; though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands.
15 As they came from their mother’s womb, so they shall go again, naked as they came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with their hands.
16 This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind?
17 Besides, all their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.
18 This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot.
Proverbs 31:10-12 and 28-31:
10 A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
This Luba-Kasai proverb is meant to warn Luba women not to focus on man’s wealth when considering getting married. Rather they should go and work hard together with the man and get the desired wealth including children. Many women today would prefer married a man who is already settled or who has everything: house, car and other assets. In DRC for example, if you ask a young lady what kind of a man she would prefers to marry, the answer is clear, easy and common: ABCD. This answer may seem to be strange for you and me so let us analyze it and see what it means. A refers to Argent which mean money. To put it clearly most women would like to marry a man who has money, that is, a rich person. B stands for Beauté which means beauty to make her more comfortable. A Congolese lady would like her man to be handsome as this will make her not ashamed of him at all. C stands for Chic, a French word for decent or pleasant. Just like other modern women today a Congolese young lady would like to see her man not only well dressed but wearing the latest fashion in the market from famous design. Our last letter D stands for Diplome or Diploma this symbolizes academic qualifications, certificates, degrees: PH.Ds, etc.
For sure, most women would be glad to marry a man who is settled and who has all the above listed characteristics, but according to both the Bible and Luba-Kasai culture as a partner a woman should make her contribution to her man’s success and together achieve their goal. So this Luba-Kasai proverb promotes equality, teamwork and collaboration between men
NOTE: For related Luba-Kasai proverbs see Tshiluba Proverbs: A Compilation of a Hundred Tshiluba Proverbs (Luba-Kasai) by Tyty Mukeni wa Mulumba. Nairobi, Kenya: Privately Printed. October, 2011. This is one booklet in the series of Endangered African Proverbs Collections. It is posted as an eBook on our website at: http://afriprov.org/index.php/resources/e-books.html
Tyty Mukeni wa Mulumba
P.O Box 00625-23300
Photographs provided by:
Professor Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 43844