|Chabe chigondola, chabe ching’ombe, kukhona fula bulema gwacho. (Kalanga).
Beberu mlemavu na sasa ni mkubwa angali ajilisha. (Swahili).
Il est boiteux, il est maintenant un grand bœuf, et capable de brouter est sa boiterie. (French)
It is lame, but now it is a big ox and able to graze with its lameness. (English)
Kalanga (Botswana and Zimbabwe ) Proverb
Background, Explanation and Everyday Use
Difficulties teach survival skills. Challenges and problems are important parts of life that
give you experiences, make you learn and help you to become wiser and stronger. Problems make us grow and shape us. The biggest problem people have is that they hope for a life without problems. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” (Helen Keller). It is very important to understand that challenges are necessary for our growth. If we want to develop into healthy individuals, we need some challenges in our life. Challenges polish our talents and improve our skills. They help us become successful individuals in the field that we are involved in. Most of all, challenges help us discover who we really are and how we behave in adversities. When we are successful, we feel confident, but it is the difficult times that make us know how we truly are. If you want to grow and become successful in reaching your full potential, you must challenge yourself. For that, you need to set goals for yourself. Set goals that let you go wild with creativity and imagination. These goals should motivate you. Though these should be achievable goals, but don’t make them too simple. A challenge should be a bit difficult so that your skills get some practice. It is best to divide a big goal into smaller goals for simplicity.
Use Among the Kalanga People
We’re convinced that the answers to the nuances of Kalanga identity in Botswana and Zimbabwe are embedded more in their wisdom literatures rather than anywhere else. One common feature among the Kalanga people of Botswana and Zimbabwe is their agro-pastoral livelihoods, particularly how they value livestock and use it as a medium of exchange in trade and other social activities within the Kalanga community contexts. Mixed herds of various forms of livestock are kept including cattle, sheep and chicken.
Animals are ranked according to their value and determined by the extent of their multiple uses among the community: cows followed by goats and sheep, then fowls. In each species, females are more valued due to their reproductive capacity, while young animals of breeding age are more valued than old, sick or deformed animals. Contrary to the context of this proverb, a sick and disabled ox is expected to succumb or be culled by the owner due to extra expenses and liabilities in managing it in the farm. But the farmer is patient enough to spare it. Despite the disability of the ox, it’s able to limp and struggle daily to feed itself and protect itself from predators.
This proverb depicts the true meaning of the saying disability is not inability in both traditional and contemporary African society. The Kalanga people apply this proverb in their daily activities to encourage and inspire each other to work harder despite the challenges of life. Also this proverb serves as a warning to members of the community to treat everyone equally and not to despise the disabled and less privileged in society. We should celebrate the gift of diversity.
Romans 12:12: “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles and pray at all times.”
I Peter says “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (I Peter 1:3-4). As believers, we know the hope that we have through Christ. Our future in heaven is secure in him by evidence of his resurrection. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:8-9). Just knowing that one day we will be reunited with Christ is reason enough to be joyful in all things. This inexpressible and glorious joy should be evident to everyone around because of the hope we have in Christ.
Secondly we are to be patient in affliction. Being patient is a wonderful characteristic to have. It is a quality of suffering with fortitude while enduring wrongs and trials at the hands of the world. James tells us that we are to “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). The King James Bible says it this way: “the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4). The work of patience in our lives produces maturity and completion in our faith. This is why we can be patient in affliction, because we know the result of the trial will not destroy us, but rather help us grow and mature in the Lord.
Next we are to be faithful in prayer. James tells us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Through Christ Jesus we are completely righteous which means when we pray; it is powerful and effective. This is why Paul tells us to be faithful in prayer because we know that we are releasing God’s power on this earth when we pray. Jesus told the disciples: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). When we pray in accordance with God’s will then we can rest assured that the answer is yes to whatever we ask. Paul gave us an encouraging word in Romans 8 concerning this and praying in agreement to God’s will: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Since we are called to His purpose we can pray knowing that it is effective and will work out for our good.
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
Paul’s directive to be joyful, patient and faithful in the midst of daily struggles seems like a hard pill to swallow. However, this charge comes directly on the heels of the instruction to serve the Lord continually out of spiritual fervor and passion for Him. When we are walking after the Spirit and living out our relationship to Him, then these things will naturally occur in our lives because each of these is a fruit of the Spirit. These fruits are the Spirit’s characteristics and traits, so these characteristics in our lives are a byproduct of our relationship to Christ. As we become more and more like him we start resembling His character on a daily basis. We are to be joyful in hope. When our hope is placed in Jesus then being joyful in all things is easy because we know the hope to which we were called.
Joy, patience and faithfulness are all fruits of the Spirit. We can operate in all of these things because they are characteristics of God and have been deposited into our born again spirits. We can let them flow through us simply by living in His Spirit and renewing our minds to the truth of His word. May this word bless you and may your fruit look like His characteristics today.
This Kalanga proverb emphasizes perseverance, joy and hope that can be effectively lived during this Advent Season. These Biblical and Christian values and virtues are so important during our worldwide Covid-19 pandemic that is stretching into 2021.
This Kalanga Proverb is No. 32 in A Collection of 100 Kalanga (Botswana/Zimbabwe ) Proverbs and Wise Sayings by Sr. Ann Grace Njau, CPS in collaboration with African Proverbs Working Group, Nairobi, Kenya.