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


“Gbà jẹ” ò yẹ àgbà.
“Take this and eat it” does not become an elder.
(It better becomes an elder's to give than to go begging.)

“Gbà mí, gbà mí!” ò yẹ àgbà; àgbà kì í ṣe ohun àlémú.
“Save me, save me!” does not become an elder; an elder should not do something that will make him the object of pursuit.
(One should behave in a manner that befits one's station.)
Compare the entry that follows.

“Gbà mí, gbà mí!” ò yẹ eégún; “ẹran ńlémi bọ̀” ò yẹ ọdẹ.
“Save me, save me!” does not befit a masquerader; “An animal is chasing me!” does not befit a hunter.
(One should act in ways that become one's station.) [51]
Compare the preceding entry.

“Gba wèrè,” “Ng ò gba wèrè” lọjà-á fi ńhó.
“Accept imputation of imbecility,” “I will accept no imputation of imbecility” is the explanation for market noise.
(One may have no means of avoiding insult from others, but it is always in one's power to reject insults.) [52]

Gbogbo èèyàn ní ńsunkún-un Bánjọ; ṣùgbọ́n Bánjọ ò sunkún ara ẹ̀.
Everybody laments Banjọ's fate, but Banjọ does not lament his own fate.
(Some people remain blissfully unaware of their own misfortune, even though the misfortune is obvious to others.)

Gbogbo ẹgbẹ́ ńjẹ Má-yẹ̀-lóyè, ò ńjẹ Sáré-pẹgbẹ́.
Everybody is taking the title Máyẹ̀lóyè (May-you-never-lose-the-title), but the title you receive is Sáré-pẹgbẹ́ (Run-and-assemble-the-associations' members; in other words, Courier or Messenger).
(The addressee is backsliding among his/her peers, but believes he/she is doing rather well.)

Gbogbo ọ̀rọ̀ ní ńṣojú èké.
The busybody is privy to all matters.
(There is nothing the busybody will say he/she does not know about.)

Gbọ̀n-ọ́n-gbọ̀n-ọ́n kan ò sí, àfi ẹni tó bá ńti ara ẹ̀.
There is no cause for staggering about, except for the person pushing himself/herself.
(Some people make more trouble for themselves than others can ever make for them.)


51. Eégún, masqueraders supposed to be the incarnations of dead ancestors, are themselves objects of terror. Fright does not become them.  [Back to text]


52. The expression “Gba wèrè,” translated as “Accept imbecility,” means “acquiesce in being treated like an imbecile.” The back-and-forth haggling during market transactions is here seen as each bargainer proposing terms to the interlocutor, who would be an imbecile to accept them.  [Back to text]