Ukwitonda k’umwigeme gushemeza abavyeyi. Kumuhero kubaha ibirori. (Rundi)
Utulivu wa msichana huleta furaha Kwa wazazi na mwishowe huleta sherehe. (Swahili)
La patience d’une jeune fille, procure la joie à ses parents, et en fin la celebration. (French)
The patience of a young girl brings joy to the parents; at the end it brings celebration. (English)
Background, Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use
Burundi is a mountainous, fertile country on the northeast shore of Lake Tanganyika, south of its twin Rwanda. It has five major people groups: Rundi Hutu: 7,142,000, Tutsi: 1,168,000; Lingala: 128,000, Twa Pygmy: 91,000; and Rwandese Hutu: 24,000.
Rundi is spoken by the Rundi Hutu as well as Rundi Tutsi. Sixty-seven percent of the population is Christian (62 percent Roman Catholic and 5 percent Protestant); 23 percent of the people follow exclusively traditional beliefs; and the remaining 10 percent are Muslim. The first Roman Catholic mission was set up in 1898, and the Protestants arrived in 1926. In addition to converting a large percentage of the population, they established schools and hospitals. Although the majority of the people today profess to be Christian, many retain some animist beliefs and practices.
Traditional beliefs place a strong emphasis on fate as opposed to free will. Everything is in the hands of Imana, the source of all life and goodness. The traditional religion is a form of animism in which physical objects are believed to have spirits. There is great respect for dead ancestors. In the Hutu tradition these spirits often visit with evil intent whereas in Tutsi belief the ancestors’ influence is more benign. Cattle are invested with a special spiritual force. They are cared for according to specific customs dictated by the religion and are objects of prayer and worship.
Diviners, or fortune-tellers, are believed to have a special connection with the spirit world and can be called upon as go-betweens. The Hutu sometimes use their services to appease the spirits of their ancestors. When Burundi was a Tutsi kingdom, the mwami, or king, played an important role in some religious ceremonies.
This proverb originated during the marriage ceremony while a girl is being handed over for marriage. In the Rundi community a girl can only be handed over for marriage joyfully if she did not defile herself during her youth. There would always be a difference between a parent of a virgin and the parent of a young lady who defiled herself before marriage. Both the parents would have their daughters married, but their joy is different according to how their daughters hid their advice while young and thus the origin of the proverb.
Ephesians: 6: 1-3: "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise — that it may be well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
This Rundi Proverb was and can still be used on a daily basis to encourage young ladies to maintain their purity until the right time so that their parents can joyfully celebrate when they finally get married. Although the proverb has been written concerning girls, it does not necessarily mean that only girls should keep pure because according to the Bible all children should obey their parents. Thus the proverb can be used on a daily basis to encourage obedience from all.
Angelique Chelo and Jemina Birungi
Photographs selected by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Art and Design
P.O. Box 43844