“Pita uko,” si kuenda. Kwenda ndi “Tiyende kuno!” (Sena)
“Vai nesta direcção” não é andar. Andar significa “vamos embora juntos!” (Portuguese)
“Aller dans cette direction” ne signifie pas tu vas. Aller signifie, “Allons ensemble” (French).
“Go in that direction” does not mean that you go. To go means, “let’s go together!” (English).
Sena (Mozambique) Proverb
Too many words, only words, even good, said to others, are not enough to change a situation or to solve a problem. There is the need to commit ourselves to do something, to unite our efforts with others so that something may really start to change.
This Sena proverb is No. 554, one of the 227 new proverbs added to the other 425 proverbs to make 652 proverbs in the second edition of the book Nzerumbawiri – Provérbios Sena by Joseph Pampalk that was published by Paulinas Editora in Maputo, Mozambique in 2008. The text is in Sena and Portuguese. The approximately one million Asena people live in the central provinces of Mozambique especially in Sofala, Manica e Tete and Zambesia. This proverb is very similar to proverbs that we find other languages in Mozambique and outside such as Manika, Lomwe, Makhuwa, Shona and Tsonga. This means that the concept is very deep and popular in the African context. You can find it even literally translated into action in Africa when you go to an unknown place and you ask some of the people who are passing by if this is the real place you are looking for. If you are in a car, together with the explanation of the directions, immediately you will have one or two people who jump in to accompany you to the exact place where you want to go. I was really amazed the first time when I was in Beira, Mozambique, and I had the experience of this so great availability and solidarity of our African Sena brothers and sisters who are very kind and welcoming.
Beside this example, we know that people has a great intuition of what is really the value of the message and of the witness of life of persons among them who gave their life with them and for them, whether it was from their own local leaders, or in the missionary work or in the political struggle for human rights and independence. People will not be cheated by words for a long time. They have the capacity to evaluate and to compare, to draw their own conclusions.
We can find in the Gospel several passages related to this Sena proverb. One is the strong expression of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). In another verse, in the same chapter, Jesus says about the false prophets, “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 17:16).
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
Even today this Sena proverb has a good application. The Latin Verba volant, sed exempla trahent means the words are flying, but the examples push. We have many other ways to express and to affirm that in solidarity, together and concretely, we can commit ourselves to do something good, not only for our own family, or clan, or ethnic group, but also for the common good in a more enlarged society.
This should especially apply to all Christians because Jesus is the one who gave us the example of his life before, during and after his preaching. A Christian only by name and by words is not accepted, but true, coherent and committed Christians, united with Jesus, working together and open to collaborate with other people of good will, can do a lot and bring a real transformation in the world.
Sister Maria Decarli, DSP
Daughters of St. Paul
P. O. Box 49026
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Illustrations provided by:
Professor Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 43844