| Giribu pii ma i kulu. (Acholi)
Wanashiriki tu maji kutoka kisimani. (Swahili)
Tout ce qu’ils partagent c’est l’eau de la source (French)
They share only water from the well. (English)
Background, Explanation, History and Everyday Use
The Acholi people live in Northern Uganda and others are in South Sudan. Traditionally elders are the source of wisdom. This proverb is said of those people who are so hostile to one another that the only thing they have in common is the village well. It is also used in another sense (rarely) to mean that although they are so hostile, they still belong to one home in that they share the same well. That is, there are times when they must unite to face an external aggressor.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give me something to drink.”’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?” Jews traditionally, of course, did not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied to her, “If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me something to drink,’ you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water” (cf. John 4:7–10).
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
In light of this Acholi Proverb we should always be open to God’s grace of reconciliation symbolized here by the well that can bring hostile enemies together even in ways unknown to us. This meaning relates to the theme of the Second African Synod in October, 2009: “The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”
This proverb could also be interpreted in the Christian sense that God’s gift (Christ as a river) always unite us (cf. John 17:20 – 21).
Rev. Thomas Komakech, AJ
General Council – Apostles of Jesus
P.O. Box 24946, Karen
00502 Nairobi, Kenya
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Art and Design
P.O. Box 43844