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Site Last Update: 11 Dec, 2019
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Endangered African Proverbs Collections: Justice and Peace

(A Continuation of the African Proverbs Project)

Selected Justice and Peace Proverbs from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region

Selected and Compiled By Joseph Kariuki

Nairobi, Kenya: Privately Duplicated, 2005. 14 pages.

It is not surprising that Joseph Kariuki, like other compassionate human beings, has been prompted to collect and compile some 100 Proverbs on Justice and Peace from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region. In reality, from time immemorial to the present, the continent of Africa has always been faced with enormous and catastrophic disasters, slavery and slave trade, colonial oppressors, war, genocide, conflicts, famine, abject poverty, disease (compounded by pandemic HIV/AIDS), ignorance, displacement, refugees, etc. Therefore, justice and peace issues have, indeed, been a cause for concern.

Most of the proverbs in this collection depict this appalling situation. Here I have picked one proverb on peace and another on justice:

Peace, No. 19 (page 5): If you refuse to stop fighting, you cannot refuse to show the wounds (Burundi)
Literal meaning: The consequences of a war are there for all to see.
Application: This proverb is used to give a vehement warning to ethnic groups to stop the wars against each other. It should be realized that war causes a lot of problems particularly to innocent people especially children and women apart from bloodshed, grief, unnecessary displacement, and no peace at all. Thus a country where there is no peace can hardly achieve any sustainable economical development, let alone the devastating decline in social life among the people. Apparently all war torn countries face severe setbacks and there are no sustainable programmes.

Justice, No.26 (page 11): People with feet complain they do not have shoes. What will those without feet complain of? (Kikuyu, Kenya)
Literal meaning: It is important for people to be content with what they have. There are some with nothing and they still continue with life.
Application: This proverb can be used to teach people about contentment, respect, and the understanding of social differences. It is a common disease among those who have to deprive off those who do not have through kickbacks, bribes, and corruption which is rampant in most African countries. The ordinary people and the marginalized majority of the community are deprived of their rights.

In view of this collection, it's a commendable challenge to all people in Africa to maintain justice and peace so that the continent can prosper. While Joseph Kariuki deserves a word of appreciation, this is another good chance for other Africans to play their part in collecting African proverbs for preservation otherwise they will get lost.

John P. Mbonde
P.O. Box 3479, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Email:
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Retired Teacher, Commissar, Party Secretary, District Commissioner, Veteran Publisher/Editor, Author of Books, Graduate from Sydney University (Australia) and De Montfort University U.K, freelance Journalist, Analyst and Educational Consultant.


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