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Part 1: On humility, self-control, self-knowledge, self-respect, and self-restraint


Labalábá fi ara ẹ̀ wẹ́yẹ, kò lè ṣe ìṣe ẹyẹ.
The butterfly likens itself to a bird, but it cannot do what a bird can do.
(Attempts to emulate those better endowed and qualified than oneself always prove futile.)
Compare Lábúlábú fara wé aró . . .

Lábúlábú [64] fara wé aró, kò lè ṣe bí aró; pòpòǹdó [65] fara wé àgbàdo.
Ash mixed with water likens itself to indigo dye, but it cannot do what the dye can do; the large red bean likens itself to corn.
(One should know better than to attempt to overreach one's capabilities.)
Compare Labalábá fi ara ẹ̀ wẹ́yẹ . . .

Lágbájá ìbá wà a di ìjímèrè; ẹni tó bá níwájú di oloyo?
Were So-and-So alive he would transform himself into a brown monkey; did the person who preceded him ever transform himself into any kind of monkey?
(One should not make excessive claims when there is no basis for them.) [66]

Láká-ǹláká ò ṣéé fi làjà; ọmọ eégún ò ṣéé gbé ṣeré.
A limp is no great asset for a person wishing to stop a fight; a masquerader's child is no easy playmate.
(One should know one's limits and also what one would be ill advised to attempt.)

Lásán kọ́ là ńdé ẹtù; ó ní ẹni tórí ẹ̀ ḿbá ẹtù mu.
One does not wear ẹtù [67] cap as a matter of course; only certain people have heads suited for such a cap.
(Not every person is made for greatness.)

Lékèélékèé ò yé ẹyin dúdú; funfun ni wọ́n ńyé ẹyin wọn.
Cattle egrets never lay black eggs; only white eggs do they lay.
(Only certain types of behavior are suitable for people in certain positions.)


66. The proverb in all probability refers to alárìnjó (itinerant performing masqueraders) contests during which they claim to transform themselves into animals and reptiles. Oloyo is another name for the brown monkey.  [Back to text]


67. Ẹtù is a rich cloth cap that only the prosperous wear.  [Back to text]