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Part 2: On perspicaciousness (good judgment, perceptiveness), reasonableness, sagacity, savoir-faire, wisdom, and worldly wisdom


br k j k ni n; ni t k l br n npn ara lj.
Asking directions keeps one from losing one's way; the person who refuses to ask is responsible for his/her own difficulties.
(One should not be too obstinate or too proud to seek help when one needs it.)

Ibi t a b gb la ti gbwn; -r--san ni sunwn.
One's home is a legitimate place to buy things on credit; what is bad is avoiding payment.
(There is nothing wrong in seeking favors from those close to one; what is bad is not returning favors.)

Ibi t a gb epo s a k s k sb.
One does not throw rocks at the place where one has one's palm-oil stored.
(One should always protect one's base or where one's best interests lie.)

Ibi t a ti gn, ib la ti r.
Where one began one's climb, there one effects one's descent.
(One must not shift the problems originating in one context to another, unrelated context.)

Ibi t a ti jun b ikun b ikun, a k sr bi klb bi klb nb.
Where one is eating food like mucus, one should not bring up matters like phlegm.
(One must be careful not to bring up matters that are too sensitive for present company.)

Ibi t gb l e; b a b d l adt di kk.
One should live according to the customs and fashions of the place one finds oneself in; if one lands in the city of lepers, one should make a fist, i.e., conceal one's fingers.
(While in Rome, do as the Romans do.)

Ibi t o ma sn lo t m s.
It is precisely where you will eventually have to sleep that you have laid down your child to sleep.
(Said of a person deceiving himself or herself, in the futile hope that a transparent ruse will work to his/her advantage.)

Ibi t j- ti pa ign b- jnn; ta n rn ign n?
The vulture has endured the drenching rain from a great distance, but who sent the vulture on an errand?
(If one's choices land one in difficulty, one should not blame others.)

Ibi t j- b j n pa s.
Wherever the rain catches up with the day, there it drenches it.
(One should do what one has to do as the opportunities present themselves.)

Ibi t onynmnt ub s, ib l ti t tn.
Wherever the ynmnt (food made from benniseed) seller falls, there she has sold all her wares.
(It makes no sense to dwell on unrecoverable disasters.) [71]

Ibi t oyn gb h, t d h, fun dk lsn.
As the bees hum and the small calabash containing charms hums, the intestine does not keep silent.
(No matter what other people's preoccupations are, one should not ignore one's own problems.) [72]

d w ni w gb t.
It is at its home base that a company or trade prospers.
(One would be wise to protect one's base.)

Ign oore p lr, kl- oore y gg; ntor j mrn kni m e oore b m.
The vulture did others a favor and became bald in return; the hornbill did others a favor and developed a goiter in return; in the future, one should not do those kinds of favor. [73]

Ignnugn tor ab pr.
The vulture did not go bald for fear of the razor.
(One's actions are not determined by one's fear of any person.)

gb ara l bra.
One swears when it is time to swear.
(Everything in its proper time.)

Igb l pa, a k pa wo.
It is a calabash that one cuts decorative patterns on; one does not cut patterns on china plates.
(What is appropriate treatment for one thing may be inappropriate for another.)

gb j l, gb rn l, a n k d is eku k le; gb wo la t w peku n?
The rainy season passes, the dry season passes, and the suggestion is that the rat's burrow be sealed up tight; when will the time be ripe to kill the rat?
(One must do what needs to be done while there is still time, rather than resort to transparent temporizing ruses.)

gb t a b dko lr ni.
The time of one's arrival on the farm is one's dawn.
(People must not be slaves of time but use time to their own advantage.)
Compare gb t a b rni . . .

gb t a b rni lwr ni.
Whenever one first sees a person, that is that person's morning.
(One does what one has to do when it is convenient for one to do it.)
Compare gb t a b dko . . .

Igb t gbd l p lwn.
It is a calabash that understands one's language that one describes as a measure.
(One places one's confidence only in those of the same mind with one.) [74]

gbn b m m- j b ti k sj.
Had the snail been careless in its foraging it would have died in the bush.
(However disadvantaged one might be, one could still thrive if one took life easy.)
Compare the following entry.

gbn b m m- j k t ok.
Had the snail been careless in its foraging it would not have grown large enough to be worth twenty cowries.
(With caution one can offset the effects of any handicap.)
Compare the previous entry.

gbn k pil ar, f mj k pil rn.
The snail never embarks on a dyeing trade, and the spotted grass-mouse never digs for rn.
(One should stick to habits that are proper for one.) [75]

Igb lranko gb.
The forest is the home for animals to live in.
(Everything in its proper place.)

gbnw ti kker yk.
The elbow develops a hump right from its youth.
(Said of a precocious person.) [76]

j n pa ontj; ogun n pa algbra.
A street fight is the death of a bashful person; warring is the death of a strong man.
(One should not rather court danger or disaster simply to avoid losing face.)

Ij n b, j n b w.
It is dance that strips one of one's cloth; it is a fight that takes off one's shirt.
(Different situations call for different responses.)

Ikd pa in y; b w pa m yn.
An abandoned well kills a horse and we rejoice; it will in time kill a human being.
(One should take other people's misfortunes as a reminder that one also is not immune to such misfortunes.)

Il aj l w wo l?
Is a dog's house the place to go in search of horns?
(One should not bark up wrong trees.)

Il olj l dbt y s.
It is in the home of a person who has food that one sets one's chest like a trap.
(People usually position themselves where they imagine there is something to gain.)

Il njk jk de d.
It is on the ground that the stool sits to await the buttocks.
(One should maintain one's place and not, for example, go out of the house to receive a visitor.)

lk my, a k sin kd tn.
One does not string decorative beads all around one's waist.
(One should not deploy all one's resources at once.) [77]

loro l w k t wl.
One enters the porch first before one enters the house.
(Everything in its proper order.)

l- ya, onbod Atd; wn k o nl, wn gb lbnrin, pl t n un fi wd rn, aj gb e, m t l aj lti gba pl, y s kga; onbod Atd w dhn n, l- y.
It is time to get out of here, the gatekeeper of Atadi; his home was burglarized, his wife was taken from him, the divining string he was going to use to investigate matters was snatched by a dog, his son who ran after the dog to retrieve the divining string fell into a well; the gatekeeper of Atadi then spoke up and said, It is time to get out of here.
(When a place becomes too hot for a person, he/she should know it is time to get out.)

In ss k jni lmej.
The fire of the stinging tragia plant does not burn a person twice.
(One should learn a lesson from the first bad experience.)

In kk ni y ba b ar oko j.
It is too much fire that will ruin the stew of a bushman.
(An ignorant person will ruin whatever venture he/she embarks on with his/her ignorance.)

In t lr omi k sn.
The fire that challenges water will die off.
(It is foolhardy to take on a power one is no match for.)

pn t a fi na yl b lj fn yw.
The whip used on the senior wife is resting on the rafters waiting for the new wife.
(One should not assume that the misfortune that befell those who went before one will pass one over.)

rr le- j ml ti agbn.
rr cannot fight, so it makes its home close to the wasp's.
(If one is weak, one should befriend the strong.) [78]

Is in k, -r-mra.
The fart within a masquerader's shroud is something to be endured.
(The insult one cannot escape from, one has to endure.)

ee ewr, kgntn fiy si.
The fate that has befallen the goat, the sheep should bear in mind.
(One should learn from the fates of others.)

I ta iu ta, kkan l wu lb.
Whether the yams are large or not, it is one by one that one extracts them from the heap.
(There is no task that is so small or insignificant that it does not deserve care and attention.)

tr t so lko t k fhnt, aff oko n t u.
The lemon plant that grows in the bush and does not support itself against something will be uprooted by the forest breeze.
(A weak person who has no support will fall victim to puny forces.)

w-o lgbn j ti aiwr.
The way a wise person looks at things is different from the way an imbecile does.
(A wise person considers matter in a more rational way than an imbecile does.)

yw mi sunw; ntor m ni mo e f ; ni ml la w fn tn?
My wife is not good looking, but I married her for the sake of children; to how many people will one give that explanation?
(One should not embark on the endless and futile task of justifying one's decisions to people.)

yw s r kan tn: n yl un a-bnu-funfun-b-gbod.
The junior wife has said what will be her last; she said the senior wife's mouth is as white as the new yam.
(Said of people who have done the unthinkable.)
Compare the following entry.

yw e rn kan tn; k - e rn-an nk-j-m.
The wife has done the unpardonable; her husband has adopted an I-will-not-eat-any-longer attitude.
(Said of people who have caused unpardonable offence.)
Compare the preceding entry.


71. Ynmnt is a commodity that cannot be scooped up after it has spilled on the ground. The seller taking some to the market hopes to sell it all, but if she falls along the way and spill it, she is left with nothing to sell, just as though she has sold it all.  [Back to text]


72. The stomach will rumble to announce its hunger, even as the bees busily attack and the medicineman busily consults his charms.  [Back to text]


73. According to a folktale, Vulture agreed to take sacrifices to heaven on behalf of the other creatures when there was a great drought. The sacrifices were accepted, and torrential rain began to fall while Vulture was still on its way back. When it arrived back on earth no one would offer it shelter from the rain, which beat it so severely that it became bald.  [Back to text]


74. Traders in such things as grains or flour use calabashes as measures, and they resort to dexterous tricks to control just how much of the commodity the measure will hold from transaction to transaction. A good measure responds to the owner's wishes.  [Back to text]


75. rn is an insect that the field rat eats, but not the spotted grass mouse.  [Back to text]


76. The point of the elbow compares to the humpback's affliction, which is here construed as properly an affliction of old age. The elbow, however, always has the point, even when it is quite young.  [Back to text]


77. lk my are highlighting beads interspersed with others and not made into whole strings by themselves.  [Back to text]


78. rr is used to describe fledglings, but in this case it is apparently some kind of flying insect.  [Back to text]