REPORT OF THE MEETING OF PEOPLE INTERESTED IN AFRICAN PROVERBS
The following were the agenda of the meeting:
The following people attended:
A summary of the proceedings is as follows:
(i). Conferences of researchers and scholars interested in African proverbs were held in Mozambique and South Africa.
(ii). A CD-ROM of collections, studies and bibliographies of African Proverbs entitled The Wisdom of African Proverbs was produced by Global Mapping International (GMI). The CD- ROM contains 28,000 proverbs and the equivalent of 70 printed books.
(iii). The African Proverbs Book Series was started with first five interesting books printed: Ethiopian Wisdom –– Proverbs of the Oromo People; Hearing and Keeping –– Akan (Ghana) proverbs; Lugbara Wisdom (Uganda Proverbs); The Voice of the People— Proverbs of the Basotho; and Embracing the Baobab Tree — The African Proverb in the 21st Century. These books are also contained in the CD-ROM mentioned above.
(iv). Regional Research and Resource Centres were set up in four countries: Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya is the Centre for Eastern Africa; University of South Africa in South Africa; University of Legon in Ghana; and Abidjan, Ivory Coast the center targeting Francophone countries. The purpose of these research and resource centres is to encourage people to collect, research and write proverbs especially “endangered proverbs” with the aim of preserving them. “Endangered Proverbs Collections” are proverbs from languages of African peoples whose number of speakers is not many. Currently six collections of endangered proverbs have been published (four from Tanzania, one from Kenya and one from Somalia). The centres are also useful for information on special collections that are proverbs from well-known languages (languages with large populations of speakers) in Africa. Father Healey reported that after organizing the conferences, preparing the CD-ROM and printing the books, some of the remaining funds were given to the Research and Resource Centers to cater for work on other endangered proverbs and special collections.
(v). The last milestone of the APP was setting up a website and an E-mail Discussion List. This idea was first mooted by Rev. John Shane, then with Urban Ministry Support Group (UMSG). The idea behind the website and E-mail Discussion List was to facilitate quicker communication with the people all over the world interested in African proverbs by providing a forum for people to share interests and experiences.
(i). Original Sukuma Proverb.
(ii). Explanation in Sukuma.
(iii). Swahili Translation.
(iv). Explanation in Swahili.
(v). English Translation.
(vi). Explanation in English including the Christian teaching.
(vii). Biblical Parallels.
(viii). Dictionary Root Words.
Father Healey also reported on the latest research on modern African sayings especially of African youth in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
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(i). Add a section on the “up-coming projects” on the website.
(ii). Contact the newspapers especially the education supplement in the Daily Nation on Mondays as a news feature.
(iii). Target University literature departments where oral literature is one of the key subjects taught.
Arising from these observations participants felt there was a need to meet more frequently (every six months) and a committee called “The Kenya Planning Committee On The African Proverbs Project” was set up to organize this. The following participants were proposed to constitute this committee that will plan for another meeting:
The second project identified was a video. Ukweli Video was said to be interested in producing a video on APP and related proverbs concerns. The only problem there was that there was no one to coordinate the project. Charles Nandain who has some experience in writing scripts for video volunteered to help in this area. The Daughters of St. Paul Congregation who use video and films in their work was also given as second suggestion through its Paulines Publications and Audio-Visual Section.
(i). Participants proposed the need to introduce proverbs to schools through booklets for young generations.
(ii). Having small collections of African proverbs from different languages and different countries in Africa on a particular theme such as “Women”. Participants’ attention was drawn to the existence of such collections as the book Source Of All Evil by Mineke Schipper. A proposal was put forward to do a review of this book and publish it on the “African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website.”
Joseph Kariuki (Secretary)