|Bushokabwa membe ku mazi. (Kabwari)
Uzuri wa mwanamke (mke) ni kufuraisha mumewe na kile anachokifanya kwa watu wa jammi yake. (Swahili)
La beaute d’une femme est de plaire son mari et de tout ce qu’elle fait aux gens de sa communaute.(French)
The beauty of a woman is to please her husband and what she does for the people of her community.(English)
Kabwari (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Proverb
Background, Meaning and Everyday Use
The Kabwari people are a Bantu Ethnic Group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Kivu Province. They are located in Fizi territory, in a peninsula which belongs to Mutambala collectivity in Lake Tanganyika. According to the Kabwari’s history, it is believed that they migrated from Sanga Luba Empire in the 17-21 centuries. Their ancestor was Kabwari Benga, the first born of Benga-Mwememanzi. He was the founder of the Ubwari Kingdom in the 17th century before the coming of Belgian imperialism — living in a peninsula near Lake Tanganyika. Today it belongs to Mutambala Collectivity.
As other ethnic groups, the Kabwari people exercised a variety of traditional festivals and indigenous traditional beliefs such as: Birth, naming children, circumcision and marriages. The newborn are named according to, or depending on, the honor and the respect the ancestor had in the family. Circumcision is a practice carried out with males only. Their marriage dowry is a sign of honor and unity to the both families. They practice polygamous marriages.
The Babwari people live in house (hut) built by the men. The huts are mainly found made of mud on the walls and grass thatched roofs. Their most preferred religion remains Islam, that is because of permanent and addition contacts between the people and the Kigoma region in Tanzania, where most of its population are Muslims. But some of them are now becoming Christians. They mainly depend on fishing, they are excellent fishing people. They used to exchange fish for other products. The main activity for their women is to cultivate maize, beans and cassava that makes cassava flour. Ugali is their main staple food eaten, consumed mostly with fish.
The proverb shows how much Kabwari people value a woman (wife) of a good character who serves the community. For this reason, parents should take care for the young man and give theme advice and right direction, where they could go to look for a wife. So the young man should be careful even during the times when he is looking for a fiancée. This is because the best wife helps others and gives good name for herself and her husband in the community. The kindness of a woman is reflected by what she does for the people of the community. Being kind to others will give you a good name.
In Joppa there was a disciple called Tabitha (translated as Dorcas) who was always doing good and helping the poor (Acts 9:36-42). Peter went with them and when they arrived, he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them (Acts 9:39). But Peter sent all the people out of the room and knelt down and prayed. Then with the voice of authority, the apostle commanded the dead woman to stand up. She responded to Peter’s call by opening her eyes and sitting up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and widows and presented her to them alive (Acts 9:40-41) .
She gets up while it is still dark. She provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls (Proverbs 31:15). Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land (Proverbs 31:23). She clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:25).
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
According to the Kabwari people, a good wife works hard for the family and for the community. They value the wife of good character because her husband will be respected by all the people of the community.
The African Church is not spared. It should emphasize teaching values and the contribution the women are making in the communities. The women should know their value and put it in practice.
We are kindly requesting, or making a call to the Kabwari Ethnic Group, people from other communities, the members of African Proverbs Working Group and others to learn this Kabwari proverb because there is a lot to learn from it that can be helpful. In this case, people are advised, especially the men, to value women in the community and help them to put their values in practice so that they can be able to help their families and communities at large.
NOTE: This proverb is No. 9 in the list of a collection of 100 Kabwari Proverbs and Wise Sayings by Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin. Edited by Elias Bushiri Elie, in collaboration with African Proverbs Working Group, Nairobi, Kenya.
Rev: Sikitoka Mboni Valentin
P.O. Box 00200
Cellphone: +254 721 925 624
Photographs provided by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 43844
Cellphone: +254 723-307992