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


“Gbà sókè” ni “Gbà sọ́kọ̀”; ohun tá a bá sọ síwájú là ḿbá.
“Put this above (ashore)” equals “Put this in the boat”; it is what one throws ahead that one finds in one's path.
(One reaps the rewards of the good one sows.)

Gbéjò-gbéjò ò gbé ọká.
No snake dancer dances with a cobra.
(There are some perils even the bravest of people should not court.)
Compare Gbẹ́rangbẹ́ran . . . below.

Gbẹ́ran-gbẹ́ran ò gbé ẹkùn.
No animal pilferer ever pilfers a leopard.
(There are some risks even the most brazen risk taker would be wise to avoid.)
Compare Gbéjògbéjò . . . above.

Gbígbòòrò là ńṣe ọ̀nà igi.
The path along which a log will be rolled must be made wide enough.
(One should make provisions adequate for the task ahead.)

Gbogbo ajá ní ńjẹ imí: èyí tó bá jẹ tiẹ̀ mẹ́nu laráyé ńpè ní dìgbòlugi.
All dogs eat excrement, but only those that smear their mouths with it are described as rabid.
(No one is without blemish, but one must keep one's flaws within reasonable bounds.)
Compare Gbogbo obìnrin . . . below.

Gbogbo ìjà nìjà; bóo gbémi lulẹ̀ mà mọ́ ẹ lójú lákọ lákọ.
Every way of fighting is a legitimate way of fighting. If you are strong enough to throw me, I will fight back by looking at you with absolute disdain.
(One must know one's limitations, especially when up against insurmountable odds.)

Gbogbo obìnrin ló ńgbéṣẹ́, èyí tó bá ṣe tiẹ̀ láṣejù laráyé ńpè láṣẹ́wó.
All women are unfaithful; only those who know no moderation are put down as whores.
(Nobody is without blemish; the important thing is to keep one's from getting out of hand.)
Compare Gbogbo ajá ní ńjẹ imí . . . above.

Gbólóhùn kan Agán tó awo-ó ṣe.
Just one utterance by the masquerader Agán is sufficient to effect a great deal of wonders.
(The truly competent person need not strain overmuch to accomplish much.) [45]

Gbólóhùn kan-án ba ọ̀rọ̀ jẹ́; gbólóhùn kan-án tún ọ̀rọ̀ ṣe.
One solitary statement muddies an entire affair; one solitary statement clears all the confusion.
(A single sentence can cause irreparable damage; a single sentence can also repair the greatest relational damage.)

Gbólóhùn kan la bi elépo; elépo ńṣe ìrànrán.
One asks only one question of the palm-oil seller, but she rambles endlessly on.
(A person plagued by a bad conscience makes endless excuses when asked simple questions.)


45. Agán is one of the more formidable Yoruba masqueraders; he was traditionally employed to execute witches.  [Back to text]