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Announcement of a forthcoming book:
Under One Roof: A New Collection of Gikuyu Proverbs

Compiled and edited by Gerald. J. Wanjohi

The ongoing African Proverbs Project assists various research projects. It has now helped to bring together Gikuyu (Kenya) proverbs found in different collections. Through the use of certain devices, it was possible to reduce 2411 proverbs to 1527 proverbs. This should prove helpful to those trying to learn Gikuyu proverbs as well as to those engaged in research and writing. This is the first phase of the research. Paulines Publications Africa is publishing this "New Collection."

The second phase of the project consists in appealing to the Gikuyu population to supply new proverbs. It is hoped that many proverbs will be collected. It is hoped that Paulines Publications Africa will also publish the results of this second phase of the research.

Dr. Gerald. J. Wanjohi
Nairobi, Kenya
CDs Page" under "Resources".

Reviewed by Peter L. Kimilike

This valuable multidisciplinary research tool is a recent contribution by the Global Mapping International and African Proverbs Project. With regard to biblical studies it comes just in time. Today's new openness, methodologically speaking, for tools and material provided by the social sciences, makes this a most interesting contribution.

What we have here is a modern technology, multipurpose electronic research device with enormous efficiency and capacity. Its foremost advantage is that it makes available over 28,000 African proverbs from numerous published and unpublished African primary sources. This fact greatly reduces the time and financial costs incurred in field research. In addition, it has a wider ethnological scope and geographical coverage of over 1,200 languages from Africa south of the Sahara. For instance, to mention just a few, there are proverbs collections from the Akan, Ewe, Grebo, Jabo (West Africa); Lugbara, Kaonde, Mongo-Nkundu, Bore, Lobi (Central Africa); Oromo (Horn of Africa); Swahili, Sukuma, Luganda (East Africa); Tswana, Sesotho (South Africa). The latter point is even much more important in enhancing a balanced representation of the African proverbial material. It is possible now for a study to make general assertions over a variety of themes in an African contextual proverbial study. In the past it was difficult to do the same because many of those collections had been made in isolation.

Another major difficulty in a comparative study has been the lack of African cultural contexts for the validation of African proverbial sources. Many scholars had taken to atomistic treatment of proverbs. The preceding problem posed it difficult to establish a proper performance context necessary to their understanding. The result was a violation of the anthropological methodology which obviously affects the final theses. In addition to the continued predominant lack of material to provide for a coherent study of the complex, short, pithy and mnemonic sayings has been the greatest hindrance and a cause of the stagnation in their study. Many interested scholars had abandoned their study. This fact is true even on the studies of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs which has a lower number of comprehensive scholarship when compared to other books of the Bible.

The African Proverbs CD-ROM has advanced a step further towards alleviating the preceding problem. First, by the provision of an update of studies, reference books, maps and abstracts or booknotes on the subject. Second, the provision of an updated bibliography of African proverbs collections. This includes a few reprints of books and a major part presented in key pages, i.e. the title page, the content, the introduction, a page or two of the text and the bibliography. And third, the provided translations, explanations, illustrations and indices to the proverbs. These together are by all means a great help to the research. The facility is enough to enable the researcher recognize, appreciate and evaluate the themes and patterns of proverbs one deals with at a click of the fingertip. The main challenge now lies in the non-availability of modern technological electronic research facilities in African theological institutions. In such a case the instrument stands a chance of being a motivating force for the improvement in the research systems necessary among the African institutions. The benefits of which will be a maximum exploit of the treasure invested in such a marvelous device at a very economical price.

NOTE: This review was originally published in Issue 6 (May, 1999) of the Newsletter on African Old Testament Scholarship.

Peter L. Kimilike (from Tanzania) is doing M.Phil. research on African and Old Testament proverbs in Stavanger, Norway. His address is School of Mission and Theology, Misjonsveien 34, N-4024 Stavanger, Norway; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it