Part 3: On cageyness, caution, moderation, patience, and prudence
Kàkà kí ó sàn lára ìyá àjẹ́, ó fi gbogbo ọmọ bí obìnrin; ẹye ńgorí ẹyẹ.
Instead of mother-witch's affairs improving, all the children she bears turn out to be female; birds climb upon birds.
(Despite all efforts the fortunes of a person continue to be bad.)
Kàkà kí ọmọ ó bẹ̀bẹ̀ ọ̀ràn, òmíràn ni kò ní-í ṣe mọ́.
Instead of apologizing for past misbehavior, a child should rather guard against a repetition.
(One should look to the future and not dwell on past mistakes.)
Kànìké tìtorí oókan kùngbẹ́.
Kànìké set fire to the forest on account of a single cowry shell.
(It makes no sense to lose control of oneself over trifling matters.)
Kékeré ejò, má foore ṣe é.
However small the snake, show it no mercy.
(Better be safe than sorry.)
Kékeré la ti ńpa ẹkàn ìrókò; bó bá dàgbà ọwọ́ kì í ká a mọ́.
One kills the roots of the ìrókò tree while it is still a sapling; when it matures it is out of control.
(One should take care of problems before they become unmanageable.)
Kékerè nìmàle-é ti ńkọ ọmọ-ọ ẹ̀ lóṣòó.
The muslim teaches his children how to squat from their youth.
(One should do things in a timely manner.)
Kèrègbè tí kò lọ́rùn ni yóò júwe bí àgbẹ̀ ó ti so òun kọ́.
The neckless gourd will itself indicate to the farmer how to tie it up.
(A difficult person prompts others as to the best way to handle him/her.)
Kèrègbè tó fọ́ a padà lẹ́hìn odò.
The broken gourd ceases plying the river.
(One should know when to stop pursuing an adversary.)
Kí a baà lè mọ̀ pé Wòrú pa awó, wọ́n ní “Káàbọ̀”; ó ní “Kẹnkẹn làpò.”
Just so that people might know that Woru killed a partridge, he was greeted “Welcome,” and he responded, “My hunting-bag is full!”
(Said of people gratuitously proclaiming their accomplishments when no one is interested.)
Compare the next entry.
Kí a baà lè mọ̀ pé àjàpá ṣe ògbóni, wọ́n ní “Káàbọ̀”; ó ní “Awo àbí ọ̀gbẹ̀rì?”
Just so that people might know that Àjàpá (the tortoise) has joined the secret society, he was greeted “Welcome,” and he responded, “Initiate or a novice?”
(Said of those who unnecessarily flaunt their accomplishments.)
Compare the preceding entry.
Kí a máa re tábà ká máa wòkè, kọ́jọ́ tó kanrí ká wo oye ìka tí yó kù.
Let us keep on cutting tobacco leaves to pieces while looking up, and let us see at day's end how many fingers will be left.
(One should pay close attention when one is engaged in dangerous work.)
Kí á fọn fèrè, ká jámú sí-i, ọ̀kan yóò gbélẹ̀.
Between blowing a flute and wriggling one's nose, one will have to go.
(One cannot hope to perform two conflicting activities at the same time.)
Kí á jìnnà séjò tí a ò bẹ́ lórí; ikú tí yó panni a jìnnà síni.
One should stand far back from a snake that has not been beheaded; the death that would kill one deserves a wide berth.
(One should recognize dangerous situations and keep away from them.)
Kí á lé akátá jìnnà ká tó bá adìẹ wí.
One should first chase the jackal away before reprimanding the chicken.
(One should get rid of the immediate danger before reprimanding those who caused it.)
Kí á siṣẹ́ ká lówó lọ́wọ́ ò dàbí-i ká mọ̀-ọ ná.
To work and make a great deal of money is nothing like knowing how to spend it.
(Riches are nothing if one does not know how to use the wealth.)
Kí á ta sílẹ̀ ká ta sẹ́nu, ká má jẹ̀ẹ́ kí tilẹ̀ pọ̀ ju ti inú igbá lọ.
Let us place some on the ground and put some in the mouth, but let what is placed on the ground be more than what is left in the calabash.
(One should do one's duty by others, but not at the expense of one's provision for the future.)
Kí á tan iná pa agbọ́nrán, ká fọ̀pá gbọọrọ pejò, ká dìtùfù ká fi gbọ̀wẹ̀ lọ́wọ́-ọ Ṣàngó; ní ìṣojú-u Mádiyàn lagara-á ṣe ńdáni.
Let us light a lamp to kill the wasp; let us use a long stick to kill the snake; let us light a torch to secure the help of Ṣangó when one is face-to-face with Mádiyàn “enter into no dispute” one runs out of patience.
(One should adopt the appropriate solution for every problem instead of entering into long disputes.)
Kí á tó mọ̀ pé kíjìpá kì í ṣe awọ, ó di ọdún mẹ́ta.
Before one realizes that tough hand-woven cloth is not leather, three years will have passed.
(It might take time, but one will eventually realize that one is not invulnerable to misfortune.)
Kì í bọ́ lọ́wọ́ èèyàn kó bọ́ sílẹ̀; ọwọ́ ẹlòmíràn ní ḿbọ́ sí.
It never slips out of a person's hand and fall to the ground; it always drops into someone else's hand.
(Other people always stand ready to appropriate whatever one carelessly lets slip through one's fingers.)
Kì í ṣe ojú-u kọ̀lọ̀kọ̀lọ̀ ladìẹ́ ti ńjẹ̀.
It is not in the presence of the fox that the chicken forages nonchalantly.
(One would be foolish to let down one's guard when one knows that danger is nearby.)
Kì í tán nígbá osùn kó má ba àlà jẹ́.
The calabash of camwood is never so empty that it can not soil white cloth.
(Some people or conditions are so unredeemable that no matter what one does they persist in being evil.)
Kì í tètè yé oníbúrẹ́dì; ó dìgbà tó bá di mẹ́ta kọ́bọ̀.
The bread seller never learns in time, not until his ware has become three a penny.
(People hardly learn to mend their ways until they have suffered some reverses.)
Kì í tètè yéni: òwe ńlá ni.
One never learns in good time: that is a profound proverb.
(People tend always to learn wisdom too late.)
Kí ni ó yá apárí lórí tó ńmòòkùn lódò?
What got into the bald person that made him/her swim under water?
(One should not unnecessarily endanger oneself.)
Kí ni ológìní ńwá tó fi jóna mọ́le? Ṣòkòtò ló fẹ́ẹ́ mú ni, tàbí ẹrù ní ńdì?
What was the cat doing that caused it to be burnt in a house fire? Was it looking for its trousers or gathering its property?
(One should not put oneself in the path of avoidable dangers.)
Kí oníkálùkù rọra ṣe é; ìfẹjú òbò ò lè fa aṣọ ya.
Let everybody take matters easy; the vagina cannot tear a cloth by gaping at it.
(Over-excitement accomplished little; it is far better to take life easy.)
Kìtì ò mọ́là; ká siṣẹ́ bí ẹrú ò da nǹkan.
Sudden pouncing does not capture greatness; working like a slave does not ensure anything.
(One does not guarantee greatness for oneself by slaving.)
Kò sí ajá tí kì í gbó; àgbójù ajá là ńpè ní dìgbòlugi.
There is no dog that does not bark; excessive barking by a dog is what makes people say it is rabid.
(No person is without a flaw; unbounded flaws is what gives people a bad reputation.)
Compare Gbogbo ajá ló ńjẹ imí . . .
Kò sí ìgbà tí a dá aṣọ tí a ó rílẹ̀ fi wọ́.
There is no time one makes a dress that one lacks opportunities to wear it casually.
(There will always be time for one to enjoy what one has worked for; one should not be unduly impatient.)
Kò sí ohun tí ńle tí kì í rọ̀.
There is nothing that gets hard that does not eventually become soft.
(Every problem eventually becomes solved somehow.)
Compare Kò sí ohun tó lọ sókè tí kò ní padà wá sílẹ̀.
Kò sí ohun tí sùúrù-ú sè tí kò jinná.
There is nothing that patience cooks that is not well cooked.
(Forbearance overcomes all things.)
Kò sí ohun tó lọ sókè tí kò ní padà wá sílẹ̀.
There is nothing that goes up that will not eventually come down.
(One should not be too impatient in anticipating the inevitable.)
Compare Kò sí ohun tí ńle tí kì í rọ̀.
Kò sí ohun tó yára pa ẹni bí ọ̀rọ̀ àsọjù.
There is nothing that kills faster than talking too much.
(One should govern one's mouth.)
Kòkòrò tó jẹ̀fọ́ jàre ẹ̀fọ́; ìwọ̀n lewéko ńdára mọ.
The insect that eats the vegetable wins the case against the vegetable; leaves should observe moderation in their attractiveness.
(A person enticed to a crime is not as guilty as the person who did the enticing.)
Kọ́kọ́rọ́ àṣejù, ilẹ̀kùn ẹ̀tẹ́ la fi ńṣí.
The key of excess is usually good only to open the door of disgrace.
(Excess brings disgrace.)
Kọkọ-kọkọ ò jẹ́ ká mọ ẹni tí ọ̀ràn ńdùn.
The woman who divorces husbands at the least provocation does not allow one to know when a matter really hurts.
(Habitual overreaction defuses real alarms.)
Kùkùté kan kì í fọ́ni lépo lẹ́ẹ̀mejì.
No one stump can break one's oil-pot twice.
(The same disaster should not befall a person twice; one usually learns from experience.)
Kùn yún, kùn wá bí ikọ̀ eèrà.
Hurry forth and hurry back like a messenger ant.
(Said of people who are too restless to stay still.)
52. Witches are believed to change into birds for the trips to their nocturnal covens and also when they go on any errand.
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53. One cowry shell was the very smallest amount in traditional Yoruba currency.
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54. The reference is to the squatting posture muslims adopt during their ablutions.
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55. The point is that one does not have to be an initiate to offer ordinary greetings to a person, and initiates are not debarred from responding to greetings from non-initiates.
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56. It is customary when one eats to place a little of the food on the ground for the ancestors.
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57. The expression “Ó bọ́ lọ́wọ́ (It has slipped out of the hands of . . .) expresses the sentiment that the person is no longer worth bothering about.
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58. The proverb is based on the proposition that a bald person under water could be mistaken for some aquatic animal.
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