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Endangered African Proverbs Collections: Gusii (Kenya) Proverbs: Volume I

Collected and Explained by Evans K. Nyakundi

Nairobi, Kenya -- May, 2001

Nairobi, Kenya: Privately photocopied, 2001. 41 pages.

                    One of the follow-ups to the African Proverbs Project (1993-1996) is the collection of African proverbs in languages that are small, not well known or in danger of dying out. These are called "Endangered African Proverbs Collections." A modest collection of around 100 proverbs in these languages is being carried out through our four Regional Resource Centers in Africa. The most recent example is a "Collection of 80 Gusii (Kenya) Proverbs" collected and explained by Evans K. Nyakundi. The research has been carried out under the direction of the Hekima College Library in Nairobi, Kenya, the Regional Resource Center in Eastern Africa. Gusii is a language used in Southwestern Kenya.

In the "Introduction" Nyakundi states:

The Gusii people articulated philosophies of life that were communicated through riddles, folktales, songs, poems and proverbs that were kept a live through oral transmission from generation to generation. Observing the cultural norms and values means pleasing God and the ancestors. The mythology of proverbs dominated the society and relinquished their capacity for choice and passive acceptance in their way of solving their needs and nature within the society. It helped them to move from a sense of fatalism to critical consciousness where they defined their own solutions and views on how life was to be approached.

After discussing culture and the significance of proverbs Nyakundi comments under the section on "Incarnation":

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 16:25). Timokunguta ekerandi tigaria enduranerio means do not empty the guard but remain the fermenter. There will be no taste for the fresh milk in the guard unless the old milk left in the guard ferments it. Jesus is wisdom incarnate and presents himself as the living one. He died and behold he is alive for evermore and he has the keys of death and Hades (Wisdom 7:15-20).

The plan of this collection of Gusii proverbs is as follows:

1. Original proverb in the Gusii language.
2. Theme or subject in Gusii.
3. Literal English translation.
4. Explanation in English.
5. Scripture parallel.

Some examples of the Gusii Proverbs are:

No. 22: Banto mbaumerani, mbitunwa bitariko'umerana. (Gusii)
             People meet but mountains do not meet. (English)

            No. 37: Chinguru chia abamura nchogu egwatia mbara. (Gusii)
             The strength of human beings [together] is like an elephant splitting wood. (English)

            No. 70: Engoko enganga tiyanya goturagia bichuchu. (Gusii)
             The hen that never stays in the nest never hatches the chicks. (English)

            No. 77: Enyoni nigo ekorora omote ekogwa. (Gusii)
             The bird knows the tree that it will land on. (English)

Evans K. Nyakundi
Hekima College Library
P.O Box 21215
Nairobi, Kenya
Nyakundi< This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


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