|Mgeni njoo, mwenyeji apone.
Let the guest come so that the host or hostess may benefit (get well).
Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa) Proverb
Besides being a very popular Swahili proverb that is heard every day, this proverb is found in other African languages such as Haya (Tanzania) and Luyia (Kenya). The guest or visitor brings many blessings for the local people and home. Traditionally the proverb had different levels of meanings:
In the same vein John Mbiti comments: "Hospitality and tender care are shown to visitors, strangers and guests. In the eyes of African peoples "The visitor heals the sick" (African proverb). This means that when a visitor comes to someone’s home, family quarrels stop, the sick cheer up, peace is restored, and the home is restored to new strength. Visitors are, therefore, social healers — they are family doctors in a sense."
There are very interesting parallels to Jesus Christ in this Swahili proverb. One of the African names for Jesus Christ is "Our Guest." Through the incarnation Christ became the most important guest of all time. He loved humankind enough to join the human race. He was the guest of the shepherds in Bethlehem; the guest of Joseph and Mary in the manger; the guest of Zacchaeus the tax collector ("Hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today" — Luke 19:5), the guest of all people everywhere.
There are also significant theological parallels with this African proverb:
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
E Mail: JGHealey@aol.com
(For a further explanation see Chapter 4 called "A Guest is a Blessing" in Towards an African Narrative Theology)