Part 2: On perspicaciousness (good judgment, perceptiveness), reasonableness, sagacity, savoir-faire, wisdom, and worldly wisdom
Baba-ìsìnkú ò fọmọ-ọ rẹ̀ sọfà; alábàáṣe ńfọmọ-ọ rẹ̀ kówó.
The executor does not pawn his child; his helper pawns his own.
(The obligated person holds back, while the helper risks his all.)
Baálé àìlọ́wọ̀ ni àlejò àìlọ́wọ̀.
An unsolicitous host makes for a visitor with no deference.
(The visitor responds according to his reception.)
Baálẹ̀ àgbẹ̀-ẹ́ ní òun ò ní nǹkan-án tà lọ́run, kí owó ọkà òún ṣáà ti pé.
The chief of farmers says he has nothing to go to heaven to sell; all he cares about is fair payment for his corn.
(If one does not ask for too much, one will not have to die to get it.)
“Báyìí là ńṣe” níbìkan, èèwọ̀ ibòmínìn.
“This is what we do” in one place is taboo in another.
(Different people, different ways.)
Bí a bá bá aṣiwèrè gbé, a ó gba odì ọlọgbọ́n; bí a bá bá ewé iyá ṣọ̀tẹ̀, a ó ṣẹ ẹlẹ́kọ.
If one lives with a maniac one incurs the enmity of the wise; if one shuns iyá leaves one offends the corn-gruel seller.
(If one keeps bad company one alienates good people; if one shuns a person one shuns that person's friends.)
Bí a bá bá ẹrán wí, ká bá ẹràn wí.
As one castigates ẹrán, one should also castigate ẹràn.
(If both sides in a dispute deserve blame, one should apportion it accordingly.)
Compare: Bí a bá kìlọ̀ fólè, ká kìlọ̀ fóníṣu ẹ̀bá ọ̀nà.
Bí a bá fi ọwọ́ ọ̀tún na ọmọ, à fi ọwọ́ òsì fà á mọ́ra.
If one whips a child with the right hand, one embraces it with the left.
(A child deserving punishment yet deserves love.)
Bí a bá jẹ̀wọ́ tán ẹ̀rín là ńrín; bí a bá yó tán orun ní ńkunni.
After a joke one gives way to laughter; after satiation one gives way to sleep.
(The action should match the occasion.)
Compare: Bí a bá sọ̀rọ̀ tán, ẹrín là ńrín . . .
Bí a bá kìlọ̀ fólè, ká kìlọ̀ fóníṣu ẹ̀bá ọ̀nà.
As one warns the thief, one should also warn the owner of the wayside yams.
(The offender and the tempter both deserve blame.)
Compare: Bí a bá bá ẹrán wí, ká bá ẹràn wí.
Bí a bá ní mọ̀, ọ̀mọ̀ràn a mọ̀ ọ́.
If one says “Know,” the knowledgeable will know it.
(The perceptive person can detect meaning in the slightest of signs.)
Bí a bá ńsunkún, à máa ríran.
While one weeps, one can still see.
(However accommodating one is, one should never take leave of one's good judgement.)
Bí a bá ránni níṣẹ́ ẹrú, à fi jẹ́ tọmọ.
If one is sent on an errand like a slave, one carries it out like a freeborn.
(The well-bred person removes the flaws in a message sent through him, or a task given him to perform.)
Bí a bá rántí ọjọ́ kan ìbálé, ká rántí ọjọ́ kan ìkúnlẹ̀ abiyamọ, ká rántí kan abẹ́ tí ńtani lára.
If one remembers the day of (the loss of) virginity, one should also remember the day of a woman's delivery, and one should remember the vagina that smarts.
(As one takes one's pleasures, one should be mindful of the pains that make them possible.)
Bí a bá rí èké, à ṣebíèèyàn rere ni; à sọ̀rọ̀ ságbọ̀n a jò.
When one sees a devious person one mistakes him for a good person; one talks into a basket and it leaks.
(It is easy to mistake a bad person for a good person, and to place one's trust in that person.)
Bí a bá rí òwúrọ̀, alẹ́ ńkọ́?
Although one has seen the morning, what about night time?
(Nobody should be judged until he or she has reached the end of his or her days.)
Bí a bá sọ̀rọ̀ tán, ẹrín là ńrín; bí a bá yó tán orun ní ńkunni.
When one is done discussing a matter one laughs, when one is satiated sleep claims one.
(When a matter has been taken care of, one turns one's attention in the appropriate direction.)
Compare: Bí a bá jẹ̀wọ́ tán ẹ̀rín là ńrín . . .
Bí a bá ṣe ohun ńlá, à fi èpè gba ara ẹni là.
If one has committed a great offense, one frees oneself by swearing (innocence).
(One's greatest duty is one's self-preservation.)
Bí a bá ta ará ilé ẹni lọ́pọ̀, a kì í rí i rà lọ́wọ̀n-ọ́n mọ́.
If one sells a member of one's household cheap, one will not be able to buy him back at a great value.
(Once one has besmirched the name of a person one is close to, one cannot later wipe it clean.)
Bí a kò bá gbé ọ̀pọ̀lọ́ sọ sínú omi gbígbóná, ká tún gbé e sọ sí tútù, kì í mọ èyí tó sàn.
If one does not throw a toad into hot water, and then throw it into cold water, it does not know which is better.
(It takes a change in circumstances to make one appreciate one's good fortune.)
Bí a kò bá gbọ́n ju àparò oko ẹni lọ, a kì í pa á.
If one is not more clever than the partridge on one's farm, one cannot kill it.
(To succeed one must be more clever than one's adversary.)
Bí a kò bá rádànán, à fòòbẹ̀ ṣẹbọ.
If one cannot find a bat, one sacrifices a housebat.
(One makes do with what one can find.)
See also the next entry.
Bí a kò bá rígún a ò gbọdọ̀ ṣebọ; bí a ò bá rí àkàlà a ò gbọdọ̀ ṣorò.
If we cannot find a vulture we may not offer a sacrifice; if we cannot find a ground hornbill we may not carry out a ritual.
(Nothing can be accomplished in the absence of the requisite materials.)
Compare the previous entry.
Bí a kò bá torí iṣu jẹ epo, à torí epo jẹṣu.
If one does not eat oil because of yams, one will eat yams because of oil.
(If one does not perform a duty because one likes it, one performs it because it is the right thing to do.)
Bí a kò bímọ rí, a kò ha rọ́mọ lẹ́hìn adìẹ?
If one has never had a child, has one not seen chicks flocking after chickens?
(Children are no novelty that any person does not know about.)
Bí a kò ránni sọ́jà, ọjà kì í ránni sílé.
If one does not send a message to the market, the market does not send a message to one at home.
(Unless one makes an effort, one cannot expect rewards.)
Bí a kò ṣe ọdẹ rí, a kò lè mọ ẹsẹ̀-ẹ kò-lọ-ibẹ̀un.
If one has never hunted, one would not know the tracks of “it-did-not-go-that-way.”
(One is an ignoramus in a trade that is not one's own.)
Bí alẹ́ bá lẹ́, à fi ọmọ ayò fún ayò.
When night comes, one gives the ayò seeds to ayò.
(When the time comes, one puts an end to whatever one is doing.)
Bí alẹ́ bá lẹ́, bọnnọ-bọ́nnọ́ a rẹ̀wẹ̀sì.
When night falls, bọnnọ-bọ́nnọ́ goes limp.
(There must be an end to every struggle and every exertion.)
Bí alẹ́ kò lẹ́, òòbẹ̀ kì í fò.
If night does not fall, the house bat does not fly.
(All actions must await their auspicious moments.)
Bí apá ò ká àràbà, apá lè ká egbò ìdí-i rẹ̀.
If the arms cannot encompass the silk-cotton tree, they may encompass its root.
(If one is no match for the father, one may be more than a match for the child.)
Bí àrùn búburú bá wọ̀lú, oògùn búburú la fi ńwò ó.
If a terrible epidemic descends on a town, it is confronted with a terrible medicine.
(One matches the medicine to the disease.)
Bí eégún ó bàá wọlẹ̀, orò ni ńṣe.
If a masquerader wishes to disappear into the ground, it cries “Orò!”
(A person intending to do something extraordinary should give prior warning.)
Bí eré bí eré, àlàbọrùn-ún dẹ̀wù.
Like play, like play, the makeshift cape became a dress.
(Imperceptibly, a stop-gap arrangement has become the status quo.)
Bí ẹlẹ́rẹ̀kẹ́ régérégé bá ro ẹjọ́-ọ tirẹ̀ tán, kó rántí pé ẹlẹ́rẹ̀kẹ́ mẹ́kí á rí rò.
After the person with smooth cheeks has stated his or her case, he or she should remember that the person with blemished cheeks will have something to say.
(The person who looks good owing to the efforts of his or her subordinates should remember that they also deserve some credit.)
Bí igí bá wó lu igi, tòkè là ńkọ́ gbé.
If trees fall atop one another, one removes the topmost one first.
(One should attend to affairs according to their urgency.)
Bí ikún bá jẹ, bí ikún bá mu, ikún a wo oòrùn alẹ́.
When the squirrel has eaten, when the squirrel has drunk, the squirrel looks at the setting sun.
(Whatever one does, one should mind the passing of time.)
Bí ilẹ̀-ẹ́ bá laná, ọ̀pọ̀lọ́ á fò gun igi.
If the earth catches fire, the toad will hop on a tree.
(If one's position becomes untenable, one seeks refuge elsewhere.)
Bí ilú bá dá sí méjì, tọba ọ̀rún là ńṣe.
If the town is split into two, one does the will of the heavenly king.
(If there is a division in one's group, one takes the side God would favor.)
Bí iṣẹ́ kò pẹ́ ẹni, a kì í pẹ́ iṣẹ́.
If a task does not delay one, one does not drag it out.
(Tasks that are easy should be finished promptly.)
Bí kò bá tíì rẹ ìjà, a kì í là á.
If a fight is not yet spent, one does not intervene to end it.
(One cannot end a fight that is not yet willing to end.)
Bí kókó bá dáni, a kì í jẹ orí ìmàdò; bí a bá jẹ orí ìmàdò, a kì í lọ sí àwùjọ póńpó; bí a bá lọ sí àwùjọ póńpó, ìwọ̀n ara ẹni là ńmọ̀.
(If one is tripped by a protruding object one should not eat a wart-hog's head; if one eats a wart-hog's head, one should not go to a gathering of cudgels; if one goes to a gathering of cudgels, one should know one's place and act accordingly.
(If unforseen circumstances force one to engage in risky behavior, one should be that much more careful.)
Bí nǹkán bá tán nílẹ̀, ọmọ ẹbọ a bọ́ síjó, àwọn tó wà níbẹ̀ a múra àti lọ.
At the conclusion of a ceremony the acolyte commences to dance, and the onlookers prepare to make their exit.
(One should not hang around after one's business is done.)
Bí o bá já ng ó so ọ́, kókó yó wà láàárín-in rẹ̀.
“If you break I will retie you”; there will be a knot in it.
(Something repaired is seldom the same as something unspoilt.)
Bí o kò gbọ́ Ègùn, o kò gbọ́ wọ̀yọ̀-wọ̀yọ̀?
If you do not understand Ègùn, do you not recognize signs that someone is speaking?
(One may not understand what a person says, but one will be able to tell that the person is speaking.)
Bí o máa ṣe aya Olúgbọ́n ṣe aya Olúgbọ́n; bí o máa ṣe aya Arẹsà ṣe aya Arẹsà, kí o yéé pákọ̀kọ̀ lẹ́gbẹ̀ẹ́ ògiri; ẹni tí yó ṣe aya Olúfẹ̀ a kógbá wálé.
If you will be a wife to the Olúgbọ́n be a wife to him; if you will be a wife to the Arẹsà be a wife to him, and stop sneaking around hugging walls; a person who would be the wife of the Olúfẹ̀ must gather her affairs into the house.
(Once one has chosen a course, one should commit oneself completely to it.)
Bí obìnrin ò bá gbé ilé tó méjì, kì í mọ èyí tó sàn.
If a woman has not lived in at least two homes, she never knows which is better.
(Unless one has tasted some adversity, one does not appreciate one's good fortune.)
Bí ojú bá mọ́, olówò a gbówò; ọ̀rànwú a gbé kẹ́kẹ́; ajagun a gbé apata; àgbẹ̀ a jí tòun tòrúkọ́; ọmọ ọdẹ a jí tapó tọrán; ajíwẹṣẹ a bá odò omi lọ.
When day breaks, the trader takes up his trade; the cotton spinner picks up the spindle; the warrior grabs his shield; the farmer gets up with his hoe; the son of the hunter arises with his quiver and his bows; he-who-wakes-and-washes-with-soap makes his way to the river.
(When morning comes, everybody should embark on something useful.)
Bí ojú bá rí ọ̀rọ̀, a wò ó fín.
When the eyes come upon a matter, they must look hard and well.
(Imperfect understanding of a matter causes difficulties.)
Bí ojú ọmọdé ò tó ìtàn, a bá àwígbọ́.
If a youth's eyes do not witness a story, they should be good for hearsay.
(If one does not witness something, one learns from those who did.)
Bí olósùn-ún bá lọ osùn, ara-a rẹ̀ ní ńfi dánwò.
When the camwood powder seller grinds the powder, she tests it on her own body.
(One tries one's remedy on one's self before offering it to others.)
Bí òrìṣá bá mú ẹlẹ́hìn, kí abuké máa múra sílẹ̀.
If the gods take a person with a protruding back, the humpback should make ready.
(If a person like one suffers a certain fate, one is at risk.)
Bí òwe bí òwe là ńlùlù ògìdìgbó; olọgbọ́n ní ńjó o; ọ̀mọ̀ràn ní ńsìí mọ̀ọ́.
Like proverbs, like proverbs one plays the ògìdìgbó music;
only the wise can dance to it, and only the knowledgeable know it.
(Only the wise can follow subtle discourses.)
Bí òwe bí òwe nIfá ńsọ̀rọ̀.
Like proverbs, like proverbs are the pronouncements of Ifá.
(The most profound speech is indirect and subtle.)
Bí ọ̀bùn ò mọ èrè, a mọ ojú owó.
If the filthy person does not know profit, he should know his capital.
(If a person cannot improve a matter, he should not worsen it.)
Bí ọkùnrín réjò, tóbìrín pa á, à ní kéjò má ṣáà lọ.
If a man sees a snake, and a woman kills it, what matters is that the snake does not escape.
(One should not be a stickler about roles.)
Bí Ọlọ́run-ún bá ti fọ̀tá ẹni hanni, kò lè pani mọ́.
Once God has revealed one's enemy to one, he can no longer kill one.
(Knowledge neutralizes dangers.)
Bí ọlọgbọ́n bá ńfi wèrè se iṣu, ọ̀mọ̀ràn a máa fi gègé yàn án.
If a wise person is cooking yams in an insane way, a knowing person picks them with stakes.
(If a person tries to mislead one, one finds one's own direction.)
Bí ọmọ́ bá jágbọ́n-ọn kíké, ìyá-a rẹ̀ a jágbọ́n-ọn rírẹ̀ ẹ́.
If a child learns the trick of crying, the mother learns the trick of consoling him or her.
(One must be ready to adapt to cope with any situation.)
See the next entry also.
Bí ọmọ́ bá jágbọ́n-ọn kíkú, ìyá ẹ̀ a jágbọ́n-ọn sísin.
If a child learns the trick of dying, his mother should learn the trick of burying.
(One should learn to meet wiles with wiles.)
See also the preceding entry.
Bí ọmọ́ bá yó, a fikùn han baba.
When a child is full, he shows his stomach to his father.
(When one accomplishes one's goals, one feels like celebrating; also, one should show one's appreciation to one's benefactor.)
Bí ọmọdé bá dúpẹ́ ore àná, a rí tòní gbà.
If a child expresses gratitude for yesterday's favor, he will receive today's.
(The grateful person encourages others to do him more favors.)
Bí ọmọdé bá ḿbẹ́ igi, àgbàlagbà a máa wo ibi tí yó wòó sí.
If a youth is felling a tree, an elder will be considering where it will fall.
(Unlike the youth, the elder is mindful of consequences.)
Bí ọmọdé bá mọ ayò, ẹyọ la ó fi pa á.
If a child is an adept ayò player, one defeats him with single seeds.
(A precocious child may be almost as accomplished as an adult, but will not be quite as accomplished.)
Bí ọmọdé bá ṣubú a wo iwájú; bí àgbá bá ṣubú a wo ẹ̀hìn.
When a youth falls he looks ahead; when an elder falls he looks behind.
(The youth is mindful of what his superiors think of him, while the elder is mindful of what the young think of him.)
Compare: Bí ọmọdé bá máa só a wo iwájú . . .
Bí ọmọdé ò bá rí oko baba ẹlòmíràn, a ní kò sí oko baba ẹni tó tó ti baba òun.
If a youth has never seen another person's father's farm, he says no body's father's farm is as large as his father's.
(Until one has seen other people's great accomplishments, one is overly impressed by one's own.)
Bí ọmọdé kọ iyán àná, ìtàn la ó pa fún un.
If a child refuses yesterday's pounded yams, it is stories one treats the child to.
(A person who boycotts a meal or some entitlement simply deprives him/herself of some benefits.)
Bí ọ̀rán bá pẹ́ nílẹ̀, gbígbọ́n ní ńgbọ́n.
If a problem remains long enough, it becomes clever.
(If one keeps at it long enough, one will find the solution for any problem.)
Bí ọwọ́ ò bá ṣeé ṣán, à ká a lérí.
If the arms cannot be swung, one carries them on one's head.
(If one cannot do as one would, one does what one can.)
Bí sòbìyà yó bàá degbò, olúgambe là á wí fún.
If guinea worm is becoming an ulcer, one should inform olúgambe.
(When a problem arises, one must consult those who can solve it.)
Bí túlàsí bá di méjì, ọ̀kan là ḿmú.
When emergencies number two, one concentrates on one.
(One concentrates on one problem at a time.)
“Bùn mi níṣu kan” kì í ṣáájú “Ẹkú oko òo.”
“Give me one yam” does not precede “Greetings to you on the farm.”
(One does not ask a favor of, or transact any business with any person without first exchanging pleasantries with the person.)
Compare “Ṣe mí níṣu” ní ńṣíwájú “ẹ kúuṣẹ́” bí?
47. The word baálé means both landlord and husband.
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49. Ayò is the game played with seeds in a board with twelve scooped holes, a game popular in many parts of the continent.
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50. Bọnnọbọ́nnọ́ is another name for the tree ayùnrẹ́,whose leaves droop when night falls. The term could also apply to a person noted for restlessness.
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51. The persons named are titled people, whose wives would be expected to be above reproach.
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52. Royal ceremonial music of Ọ̀yọ́.
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53. The Yoruba oracle god.
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54. A medicine for treating guinea worm.
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