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Site Last Update: 11 Dec, 2019
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Endangered African Proverbs Collections: Shubi (Tanzania) Proverbs



(A Continuation of the African Proverbs Project)

Collected and explained by Joseph Nkumbulwa and Rev. Max Tertrais, M. Afr.

Mwanza, Tanzania: Sukuma Research Committee, 2006

                    The Washubi ethnic group live along the borders of Tanzania and Rwanda, specifically in Ushubi in Ngara District, Rulenge Division, Kagera Region in the direction of Murusagamba Mganza in Northwest Tanzania. Washubi mix comfortably with other ethnic groups in the region. This ethnic group is also culturally and linguistically connected with many other Bantu ethnic groups such as the Wahangaza. Washubi were originally hunters and honey collectors in the bush. Now they also grow bananas, sorghum, maize, beans, cassava, and rice. They raise cows, goats, sheep and dogs.

                    This collection has a total of 198 Shubi proverbs. Some of them are in common use in other ethnic groups in Africa and around the globe. African ethnic groups have always adhered to their indigenous traditions and cultures. They have many proverbs that have the same or similar common meanings as if they were brought up under one umbrella.

                    It is very significant that most African indigenous communities still use proverbs in educating, character forming, and nurturing their children right from a tender age so that they grow up to be good citizens. The traditional values have always been enhancing the language and at the same time empowering the society to transfer values these from one generation to another generation.

                    Each proverb is written in Shubi and then translated into Swahili and English. Adequate effort has been made in providing some explanation on everyday use. The proverbs include topics on ignorance, prudence, obedience, discipline, dignity, sympathy, diligence, superstition, faith, pride, responsibility, love, etc

                    For example, Proverb No. 13 advises people to be moderate in their everyday activities.

Ule kidogo, ulale mapema. (Swahili)
Explanation: Uwe mtu mpole, mwenye kiasi, ili upendwe na watu na uishi kwa amani.
Eat few and go to bed early. (English)
Explanation: Have moderation in all your natural needs and you will appear to others as a reasonable person and be appreciated.

                    Another example is No, 104 that refers to the reality of death. No matter how tall one is, or rich, or of high rank, one cannot overcome death.

                    No. 195 states:

Akusindikizaye bila kukufikisha, heri arudi. (Swahili)
Explanation: Anayekufundisha, lazima akamilishe, lakini akiishia njiani ni bora angeacha kabisa.
It is difficult to be a teacher or a guide. You need science or to know the way. If not, resign! (English).
Explanation: In politics and even in religion, so many people, even the elite, are unable. Leading people involves special gifts and skills.

                    This collection of Shubi Proverbs provides another landmark success in the challenging attempt of preserving endangered African proverbs.

John P. Mbonde
P.O. Box 3479
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
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