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Part 3: On cageyness, caution, moderation, patience, and prudence


Má bà á loògùn ẹ̀tẹ̀.
Avoiding contact is the only medicine for leprosy.
(The best way out of trouble is not to get into it in the first place.) [60]

Má bàá mi ṣeré tí kèrègbè-é fi gba okùn lọ́rùn.
Do not ask me to play the sort of game the gourd played and got a rope around its neck.
(Do not ask me to endanger myself needlessly.)

Má fi iyán ewùrà gbọ́n mi lọ́bẹ̀ lọ sóko ẹgàn.
Do not eat up my stew with pounded yam made from wateryams before your trip into the forest farm.
(Do not use up my meager resources on your way to a place of plenty.) [61]

“Má fi okoò mi dá ọ̀nà,” ọjọ́ kan là ńkọ̀ ọ́.
“Do not cut a path through my farm” is a protest one must make some day.
(Whoever does not take a stand to protest the violation of his/her rights will continue to have them violated.)

“Má fi tìrẹ kọ́ mi lọ́rùn” là ńdá fún apèna àti òwú.
“Do not hang your trouble around my neck” is the oracle delivered to the shuttle and the weft thread.
(Do not involve me in your problems as the weft thread got the shuttle entangled in its problem.)

Má fìkánjú jayé, awo ilé Alárá; má fi wàà-wàà joyè, awo Òkè Ìjerò; ayé kan ḿbẹ lẹ́hìn, ó dùn bí ẹní ńlá oyin.
Do not go impatiently about enjoying life, the oracle delivered to the Alárá household; do not rush into chieftaincy, the oracle for the Òkè Ìjerò household; there comes another life in the future that is as delicious as licking honey.
(Whoever goes about life with patience will reap untold enjoyment from it.)

Màá jẹ iṣu, màá jẹ èrú, ibi ayo ló mọ.
I will eat a whole yam, I will also eat a slice of yam, satiation ends it all.
(The greediest appetite will not survive satiation.)

Má ṣe jáfara: àfara fírí ló pa Bíálà; ara yíyá ló pa Abídogun.
Never be sluggish; sluggishness killed Bíálà; but then over-eagerness killed Abídogun.
(One should avoid extremes in all things.)

Mábàjẹ́ ò jẹ́ fi aṣọ-ọ ẹ̀ fún ọ̀lẹ bora.
Mábàjẹ́ will never think of giving his covering cloth to a shiftless person to use.
(Whoever values his or her property will not entrust it to worthless people.) [62]

Méjì-i gbẹ̀du ò ṣé-é so kọ́.
Two gbẹ̀du drums are too much to hang on one's shoulders.
(Some propositions are simply too much for anyone to tackle.)

“Méè-wáyé-ẹjọ́” fọmọ ẹ̀ fọ́kọ mẹ́fà. Méèwáyéẹjọ́
“I did not come to live a life of litigation” gave his daughter to six suitors all at once.
(If one wishes to avoid trouble one should avoid actions certain to result in trouble.)


60. The proverb is obviously from the days when there was no cure for leprosy.  [Back to text]


61. Wateryam (Dioscurea Alata) is a poor make-do for preparing pounded yams. The objection is that the person addressed is eating up valuable or scarce stew with second-rate pounded yams.  [Back to text]


62. The name Mábàjẹ́ means “Spoil not.”  [Back to text]