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


Ebi pa m l kiri; gb t ng wn ng e wde?
I am hungry and the soap seller hawks her wares; when I have not washed my inside, how can I wash my outside?
(One must order one's priorities sensibly.)

Ebi pJ lun jk y; eb pa m Obkun j ori.
The Ijea person is not hungry and he rejects corn-loaf prepared by an y person; when hunger gripped the son of Obokun (an apellation for Ijea people) he ate ori(the y name for corn-loaf.)
(It is when one is not desperate that one is choosy.)

Ebi pmle n un j y; eb pa Sl jb.
The muslim is not hungry and he vows he will not eat a red Colobus monkey; hunger gripped Suleiman and he ate a monkey.
(A desperate person is seldom finicky.)

Egn gb, gb n f.
The gb masquerader must needs speak gb. [55]
(One should speak to others in a manner that befits one, and that will facilitate one's business with them.)

Egn t y gbeni l d fn; r t y gbeni l sn; bi ig b gb m m k ob m b igi.
It is the masquerader that succors one that one makes shrouds for; it is the god that succors one that one worships; if a tree succors me, I will take kolanuts and worship the tree.
(One should confine one's efforts to profitable ventures, and one's service to appreciative people.)

Egn t y e bi Lb, Lb ni y d; y t y tkt b Olfol, furugbd ni y ta .
The masquerader that will perform like Lb must become like Lb; the one that will sumersault like Olfol (meaning Great-One-Jumps-A-House) must perform his feat in the open spaces.
(One must prepare oneself and gather one's resources before one attempts momentous tasks.) [56]

Ej- r ih t h k w ; y-a r- lw ti f y?
A snake sees a tight hole and crawls into it; has its mother hands to pull it out?
(One had better be certain that one would be able to extricate oneself before one ventures into tight spots.)

Elkuru k kiri lko.
The seller of steamed ground beans does not hawk her wares on a farm.
(One wastes one's time attempting to sell things to those who produce them.)

l l ra ad kk, t gba m- r sn?
How much does a hen cost that one would contract to raise chicks for the owner?
(Certain obligations are not worth the trouble.) [57]

mi--n-f-obnrin-tnkan-f, olwar n f obnrin ni.
I-will-court-no-woman-being-courted-by-another-man will court no woman at all.
(A person who wants exclusive rights to a woman (or anything) will look for a long time and in vain.)

mi--n-u-im-le-im, olwar rn jnn tn.
I-will-not-defecate-on-existing-excrement will walk a good distance into the bush.
(People who are too finicky will pay in effort and delay for their habits.)

p la fi wo p sn.
Curses are the antidote for curses.
(One matches the remedy to the affliction.)

Epo l e ju; ks l e gun k; obnrn dn-n b sn ju knrin l.
It is palm oil that goes best with yams; it is a ladder that is best for climbing granaries; a woman is more pleasant to make love to than a man. [58]
(Certain things are fit for certain purposes; not anything will do anytime.)

Epo loj b.
Palm-oil is the countenance of stew.
(One should be particularly attentive to that one ingredient or thing whose absence mars the entire project.) [59]

Er l fm ay e.
All one does with ay seeds is play.
(One should take time for pleasure when one may.)

r k m ibs krn w .
A wayfarer does not know the location of the rest stop and yet have his neck crushed from the weight of a heavy load.
(One measures one's exertions to suit one's capacity.)

te lgbn; mrn lbr; b-a--ti-e lkta wn.
Intention is the eldest, contemplation is the next, and plan of action is the third.
(First there is the goal, next a contemplation of it, and finally a plan for attaining it.)

t lfin kn-n-n lde run.
Order is the first law in heaven.
(Whatever one does, one must be orderly.)

Ewr e-e fiu .
A goat is not a wise choice as the guard over yams.
(Do not entrust your affairs to your enemy.)

y t y ar iwj, r hn fiy sl.
(To) what turned out favorably for those going ahead, you coming behind, pay close attention.
(Learn from the examples of others.)


55. This is another designation for the people of Abkta and their language.  [Back to text]


56. An alrnj (itinerant dancer) type.  [Back to text]


57. People sometimes would agree to raise domestic animals for other people in the hope of sharing in their litter.  [Back to text]


58. The proverb obviously speaks from a man's point of view.  [Back to text]


59. The Yoruba believe that the more palm-oil goes into a stew the better the stew.  [Back to text]