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Report of the Meeting of the African Proverbs Working Group, Saturday 4 December 2010
Fine Arts Dept., Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

  1. Introduction of new members.
  2. “Matters Arising” from previous meeting.
  3. Each participant will report on his or her recent research, writing, and publishing. This includes new booklets, books and articles published in
the past year.
  1. 2011 African Proverbs Calendar on “Climate Change, Ecology and the Environment” (including water and land rights).
  2. Future "African Proverbs of the Month."
  3. Booklets of 100 African Proverbs.
    1. Calvin Katabarwa’s request for assistance to print a Booklet of 100 Orma (Kenya) Proverbs.
    2. Tyty Mukendi’s request for assistance to print a Booklet of 100 Tshiluba (DRC) Proverbs.
    3. Joseph Nkumbulwa and Pascal Durand’s request for assistance to print a Booklet of 100 Kara (Tanzania) Proverbs.
    4. Prof. Muteba Kazadi of Masinde Muliro University’s request for assistance to print a Booklet of 100 Songe (DRC) Proverbs.
    5. George Atido’s request for assistance to print a Booklet of 100 Alur (DRC and Uganda) Proverbs.
  4. Report on plans for the June, 2011 International Proverbs Congress in Paris, France.
    1. Proposal passing through Indian Professor Chilukuri Bhuvaneswar who teaches at
    2. University of Sebha (FET) Campus, Brack, Libya.
    3. Proposal passing directly to organizers in Paris.
  5. Using and promoting our: African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website, Poll and Facebook Page
  6. AOB.
The meeting started with an opening prayer using a Hema (DRC) Proverb from Calvin Chelo Katabarwa.

1. Introduction of new members.

Five new members introduced themselves:
  1. Kazadi Muteba, French lecturer from Masinde Muliro University.
  2. George Atido, a theology student from NEGST University.
  3. Father Paskali Kassase, a Catholic priest from Tanzania.
  4. Sister Grace Njau, a Catholic Sister from Kenya. NOTE: She was warmly welcomed as the only woman at the meeting.
  5. Simon Rurinjah, an evangelist and broadcaster from Kenya.
The following old members were present:
  1. Allan Babunga
  2. Simon Kilosho
  3. Calvin Katabarwa
  4. Thomas Komakech
  5. Cephas Agbemenu
  6. Kamau Wango
  7. Tyty Mukendi wa Mulumba
  8. Francis Njuguna
  9. Joseph Healey
Absent with Apologies:
  1. Francis Kimani
  2. Gerald Wanjohi
  3. Evans Nyakundi
  4. Zacharia Samita
Greetings from:
  1. Mineke Schipper (Netherlands)
  2. Stan Nussbaum (USA)
  3. Jennifer Ehrentraut (USA)

2. Matter arising from the previous meeting.

Cephas explained how information about members, their photographs and their research countries can be digitalized on our websites.

3. Report on personal research.

It was pointed out that there is a richness in African Oral Literature and many new publications continue to come out in print form (books and booklets) and on the internet (ebooks).  According to the Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International, 2009 Nigeria is the richest country in term of languages (527). Members said that DRC has many as 420 languages and dialects. We are involved not because of being anthropologists or linguists, but because we are evangelizers. We see the value of African Oral Literature to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Healey: Recently a lot of work has been seen in Tanzania where our Tanzanian members have just published a new book entitled: Wasukuma Watangaza Injili: Neno la Mungu Kwa Njia ya Hadithi za Jadi za Kisukuma (The Sukuma People Proclaim the Gospel: The Word of God through Traditional Sukuma Stories) by Kat. Joseph Nkumbulwa and Pd. Pascal Durand M.Afr. Mwanza: Privately Printed, 2010. Also I contributed a chapter on “Links Between African Proverbs and Sayings and Ethnic Diversity” in the new book Ethnic Diversity in Eastern Africa: Opportunities and Challenges. Nairobi: Twaweza Communications, 2010.

Sim Kilosho Kabale: I contributed to the publication of the just published Negotiating Afropolitanism: Essays on Border and Spaces in Contemporary African Literature and Folklore.  New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.  My essay is on Francophone African novels.

Cephas Agbemenu talked about the phonetic alphabet of the African languages that he has collected that can ease the reading of traditional African languages. He finished by asking anyone who need it to get it from him.

Kamao Wangu described his new book of Gikuyu Proverbs called:  Thimo Cia Agĩkũyũ: Proverbs of the Kikuyu People. Volume 1. Nairobi: Flamekeepers Publishing Company, 2009. There was a good discussion on the difference between a proverb and a saying. The number of words is important since a proverb is defined as a “short, pithy saying.”

4. 2011 African proverbs calendar

Members support on the design and the content of our 2011 calendar but they suggest some changes such as:
  1. For cover: Green sections are very good, but we voted 9-3 for the giraffes photo over the lions photo.
  2. For all 12 months: Enlarge font of proverbs and the numbers of the dates.
  3. February: use a photo or drawing of elephants fighting more aggressively.
  4. July: Put Ewe Proverb in italics.
  5. September: We were divided. We couldn’t agree on one particular photograph.
  6. November: Bemba without brackets.
  7. December: Gikuyu Proverb (not Saying)
  8. Name correction:  Babunga
  9. Next “Draft” should include the maps.
5. Future "African Proverbs of the Month.”

Plan for “African Proverb of the Month” in 2011
  • January, 2011: Haya (Tanzania) Proverb – Rita Ishengoma
  • February, 2011:  Hangaza (Tanzania) Proverb -- Joseph Nkumbulwa and Pascal Durand (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Hangaza Proverbs).  New language
  • March, 2011: Rwanda (Rwanda) and Rundi (Burundi) Proverb -- Jonathan Musere
  • April, 2011: Lingala (Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC) Proverb -- Allan Babunga (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Lingala Proverbs). New language
  • May, 2011: Orma (Kenya) Proverb – Calvin Chelo Katabarwa (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Orma Proverbs).  New language
  • June, 2011: Tshiluba (Democratic Republic of Congo --DRC) Proverb – Tyty Mukendi (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Tshiluba Proverbs).  New language
  • July, 2011: Kamba (Kenya) Proverb -- Julius Mutuku Muindi
  • August, 2011: Gusii (Kenya) Proverb -- Evans Nyakundi
  • September, 2011: Kara (Tanzania) Proverb -- Joseph Nkumbulwa (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Kara Proverbs). New language
  • October, 2011: Songe (Democratic Republic of Congo --DRC) Proverb Muteba Kazadi (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Songe  Proverbs). New language
  • November, 2011: Acholi (Uganda, Sudan) Proverb -- Thomas Komakech
  • December, 2011: Alur (DRC, Uganda) Proverb – George Atido (accompanied by Booklet of 100 Alur Proverbs). New language
6. Booklets of 100 African proverbs.
  1. Calvin Katabarwa asks for a grant to collect and publish a booklet of 100 Orma proverbs from Kenya.
  2. Tyty Mukendi wa Mulumba brought us a proposal to collect and publish 100 Tshiluba proverbs. He also tells us the difference between Luba that is spoken in Katanga province and Tshiluba that is spoken in Kasai provinces.
  3. Joseph Nkumbulwa is interested to do research on Kara proverbs. The Kara people live on an island near Ukerewe in Lake Victoria, with a population of around 86,000.
  4. Kazadi Muteba wanted to know why people like or learn about proverbs. That is why he comes up with a proposal to collect and publish a booklet of 100 Songe proverbs. According to him Songe people are Bantu and contribute a large percent to the DRC population, but up to now no literature is available in the Songe language.
  5. George Atido requested a grant to collect 100 Alur proverbs from DRC. He was asked to submit a written proposal (by File Attachment) as soon as possible.
The group showed their support for all these five researchers and voted to give them grants of $500 each. They agreed to submit their findings (10 printed booklets) in four months’ time, that is, by 2 April, 2011.

Lunch Time: At lunch time members enjoyed delicious food provided by our members from Kenyatta University.

7.  Report on plans for the June, 2011 International Proverbs Congress in Paris,France.
  1. Proposal passing through Indian Professor Chilukuri Bhuvaneswar who teaches at University of Sebha (FET) Campus, Brack, Libya. Calvin Chelo explained how far they have reached while working on their proposal.
  2. Proposal passing directly to organizers in Paris. Allan explained why he opted to send another proposal on an individual basis that was received by the organizing committee.
8. Using and promoting our African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website, Poll and Facebook Page:

Allan asked people to visit our website and vote for their favorite proverb of the month and also benefit from the different website content, thus showing their support. Members can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. Father Healey urged members to send by File Attachment announcements and summaries of their new books and articles to post on the website.

9. AOB

  1. We discussed how we are going to manage our photographs on the meeting. We agreed that Allan will be given the privilege to select the necessary pictures. Cephas will manage our photographs for the other parts of our website.
  2. Members realize that Kenyatta University is the most successful venue with the highest number of participants. The next meeting will be on a Saturday in February, 2011 at a date to be determined later.

The meeting ended with a prayer by Sr. Grace Njau.

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