|Kanzala kalanda wa kamwene. (Taabwa)
Huwezi ongea kuhusu njaa kama mtu ambaye alipitia hali hiyo. (Swahili)
Personne peut parler de la famine que celui qui l’a souffert. (French)
No person can talk about hunger better than the one who suffered it. (English)
Background, Meaning and Everyday Use
The Taabwa are a Bantu group of people, who speak a language similar to that of the Bemba. The name is spelled Tabwa in some sources. They are also called Tarbwa. The Taabwa, (also known as Rungu or Lungu) are an ethnic and linguistic group that primarily occupies the Southeastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, the Marungu massif in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southwestern Tanzania, and Northeastern Zambia. They speak dialects of the Mambwe-Lungu language, a Bantu language closely related to that of the nearby Bemba and Luba people.
In Zambia they are also known as Shila or Sila, which is also the name of the dialect of their language. The Lungu comprise many clans and sub-clans based on matrilineal descent, some with their own dialects, which are depicted as separate tribes on older ethnographic maps. In 1999, the population of the Lungu in the Democratic of Congo was estimated at 851,359, according to PeopleGroups.org. In Tanzania, the Rungu population was about 34,000 people, in 1987. In Zambia, the population of the Rungu has not been independently estimated, although the combined census of Mambwe and Rungu in Zambia was estimated to be 262,800 in 1993.
Among these people proverbs are used during the monthly ceremonies of the new moon to emphasize the meaning of their social values. They are also used during different cultural events such as weddings, payment of dowry, birthdays, and funerals among others.
The Taabwa proverb No person can talk about hunger better than the one who suffered it is used to criticize liars or boastful people. This caliber of people prides in falsehood; acting like they know everything, yet they do not. Since they cannot relate exactly what might have transpired, they employ exaggeration and deception to convince their listeners about what they purport to have witnessed. The proverb is also used to encourage people to share their true experiences, rather than to lie.
Proverbs 30:6:“Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Proverbs 19:21: “There are many devices in a man or woman’s heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord shall stand.”
Proverbs 21:28:“A false witness shall perish: but the man or women that heareth speaketh constantly.”
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
In ancient Israel, lying was a serious crime, just like taking someone’s life. Therefore people avoided it, because its punishment was death. But why was this so? The answer is simple: Lying is a sin, and God doesn’t allow His people to sin. Acts 5:1-10 talks about what happened to Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They died because they lied to God.
In our contemporary society, lying has become a way of life. People are corrupt and deceitful thanks to their lying tongues. Lying is the tool they employ to enrich themselves and to protect their ill-gotten wealth. The Bible calls them by different names. Proverbs 17:4 says: “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; and a liar gives heed to a mischievous tongue.” And 1 Timothy 1:10: “Immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
To have this unfortunate scenario stopped, perhaps people ought to ask themselves this question: “Who is a liar?” And the answer, according to the Bible, will be: “A liar is a person who says that he knows God but who disobeys His Commandments.”
As the adage goes: Never write what you dare not sign; for if you do, you will be termed a liar.
Etoka Malisawa Peter
Cellphone: +254 714 695 659
Photographs provided by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 43844
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