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Part 4: On perseverance, industry, resilience, self-confidence, self-reliance, resourcefulness, daring, fortitude, and invulnerability


Kk k il k, ni y .
Rather than die, the earth will only become bare.
(One may be inconvenienced by one's enemies' machinations, but one will not be destroyed by them.

K kan ni k yr.
When a duty comes to one's turn one does not duck it.
(One must step up and carry out one's responsibility when the time comes.)

K a re od k sn; k ni ar il y mu?
If we go to the river and sleep there, what will the people left at home drink?
(One must not fail those who depend on one.)

K gb k so sj k pte ml; ojgun-n y tn fikn shn.
Hiding the hoe in the loft and contriving to shirk work; the shin ate its fill and developed a stomach at its back.
(Said of people who shirk work but eagerly partake of the rewards.)

K rnni n t k m j.
To be sent on an errand is nothing compared to knowing how to carry it out.
(The good servant is the one who does performs his/her tasks well.)

K t b md, nkan l b er.
Before the child was born, one had someone as a playmate.
(Message to someone that before he/she came around one got along rather well, and one would do so again if the person were to disappear from the scene.)
Compare Ohun kan lad j . . . and K ynb t de . . .

K egn t d lAlgba- ti fll jk.
Long before the arrival of masqueraders the Algba had been eating corn-meal with steamed bean loaves.
(One got on very well before the other person happened on the scene.) [42]

K r r k r sinsin d .
The porcupine may tire, but never the quills at its rear.
(One can never be so tired that one will leave oneself defenseless.)

K tn ngb osn k m r fi pa m lra.
The calabash of camwood is never so empty that one does not find enough in it to rub on a baby.
(One may lack many things, but never the means to fulfill one's obligations.)

K ni egn w t k fi wr j?
What was the masquerader looking at that he did not take advantage of the morning to dance?
(One should not dawdle, but rather do things at the most opportune moment.) [43]

K n b nn is t y ba k lr?
What is there in the grave to frighten a corpse?
(There is nothing in the offing that one cannot cope with.)

K ni m y e fn y ju p k dgb k f l?
What will a nestling do for its mother other than becoming mature and flying away?
(People who are powerless to help one cannot hurt one by witholding their support from one.)

K ynb t d la ti w a.
Long before the white man came we were wearing clothes.
(One got along pretty well before a certain person came on the scene.)
Compare K t b md . . ., and Ohun kan lad j . . .

Kk aj, ng k n omitooro - l; k ng k n p rn n.
When the dog dies I will not lick the stew made with it; alive I will not send it on an errand.
(One has absolutely no use for the person at whom the proverb is directed.)
This is a variant of Ak, nk n omitootoo r- l . . .

Knn n gbk kn.
A lion does not face peril from a leopard.
(The stronger person has nothing to fear from the weaker.)

K ka ik: db s-s t j lrin .
It fears not death: the pigeon that forages among hawks.
(Said of people who habitually court danger.)

K s alpat t pa ign.
There is no butcher who slaughters the vulture for sale.
(Certain actions are forbidden: one is beyond the powers of one's enemies.)

K s b igb e l ta kk t, erin kj.
No matter how knotty the bush might be, the elephant will find a way through it.
(No obstacle can stop a resourceful ad formidable person.)
Compare tkn t n krin m gk j . . .

K s r nn-u Gba ow k.
There is no profit in Take this money and count it for me.
(One cannot count on profiting from others' industry.)

K s ewu lko, fi gr par.
There is no danger on the farm except for the sudden noise of partridges taking to the air.
(An incantatory wish that all dangers will stay well away from one or some subject of one's wishes.)

K s ni t lrun e fn, fi ni t b n tun t.
There is no one to whom God has not been generous, only those who will say he has not been generous enough.
(Everyone has something to be thankful for.)

K s ibi t k gba g; l lay gb.
There is no place where a fool is not welcome; the world rejects only shiftless people.
(People may be foolish, but they had better not be shiftless.)

K s ibi t w-j erin t.
There is no place an elephant's trunk cannot reach.
(There is no place beyond a person's reach or influence.)

K s ik t k r ad lrn.
There is no manner of death that is inconvenient for the chicken.
(One is game for whatever propositions might be made to one.)

K s ohun t ti k b t il gb.
There is nothing dropping from above that the earth cannot withstand.
(There is no eventuality that one cannot cope with.)

K s onj t m ara lkun b y t a j snu ni l.
There is no food that nourishes one's body like that one puts in one's own mouth.
(The only thing one can be sure of is what one has in one's possession.)

K w, k w, rb w; oj trk.
May it crash! May it crash! The silk-cotton tree does not crash; the rk tree is shamed.
(The person whose enemies have been wishing and expecting to fail has not failed; the enemies are shamed.) [44]

Kk- n b a ti e un t y, n ku lb.
The sieve says despite all that has been done to it it still manages to sift yam-flour.
(A statement that despite all vicissitudes placed in one's path one was still able to do what was expected of one.) [45]

Kt-kt k jni lmej; kt-kt n j wr; biri n j al.
Early dawn does not wake one twice; early dawn is the morning; deep darkness is night.
(The morning comes only once; whoever wastes it will discover too late that night has fallen.)

Lab-lab b tj w od; kanna-knn b ti k w oko.
The lablab [46] plant did not come to the river looking for a fight; the crow did not come to the farm in search of corn gruel.
(One may be minding one's business when one is provoked; one should nevertheless be prepared to respond.)
The next entry is a version of the same proverb.

Lab-lab br j.
The lablab plant is not afraid of a fight.
(One is prepared for whatever trouble might come one's way.)
See the previous entry.

Lklk gbrd, gba tlmrn m.
The cattle egret borrows wonders to perform, and performs enough for itself and others.
(Said of people who have done far more than anyone expected of them.)

Lj-lj l wo ni t a kw fn.
It is directly in the eyes that one looks at the subject of the praise poem one is performing.
(One should squarely face the person with whom one has business.)

M gby lgn; ti w ni n tni.
Place not your hopes in inheritance; the product of one's hand labor is what sustains one.
(Whoever trusts in inheritance courts disaster.)

M kj mi Olgbl k e orin -knl-k.
Pass me not by, dear Redeemer is not a song one sings on one's knees.
(The Redeemer helps only those who make an effort in their own behalf.)

Mrw w fnra wn tl t wn fi y.
Palm fronds do not consult with one another before they sprout.
(Each person is responsible for his/her own decisions.)

Mrw woj nkan, fi lrun.
Palm fronds look up to no one except God.
(One's trust is in God only.)

Mo di argb d t tu ol, mo di gblagb d t wa gg ltn; mo di gblgb akt t gba bn lw d.
I have become an aged hunter reduced to gathering mushrooms; I have become an old hunter good only for digging palm-weevils; I have become an aged monkey that snatches the gun from the hunter's grip.
(A helpless person pushed to the wall will somehow find the means to put up a fight.

Mo kgb lehoro dn lko; Mo mw r lpar dn lb-a bb.
I have perished! is the cry of the hare in the bush; I have destroyed things worth a lot of money! is the cry of the partridge in the guinea-corn field.
(A worthless person can also be counted upon to destroy things of value.)

Mo e tn l ny; a k dp alek.
I have completed the job is what deserves praise; one does not thank people who leave a job only half done.
(Whatever one embarks upon, one should see through.)

Mlele mlle: il t m lele l so; ikn t m lele l ww j.
High potency upon high potency: the okro that lacks high potency cannot fruit; the bitter tomato that lacks high potency cannot achieve the blood-red complexion.
(Sharpness is a requisite quality for success.)

Ng l, ng l! lobnrn fi dr ba knri Bo l l o l lknrn fi dr ba obnrin.
I will leave you, I will leave you! is the threat a woman flings at a man; If you have a mind to leave, go ahead and leave! is the retort a man throws at a woman.
(Every person in a relationship has something he/she can hold over the others.)

N in gn, n in-u gg, m ay a ara br.
In the midst of thorns, in the midst of crooked twigs, the ay seeds remain smooth.
(A person who will thrive will do so in spite of adversities.) [47]

N in f ti l, m pdr gb.
Despite being blown hither and tither in the gale, the fruits of the sausage tree survive to maturity.
(Some people will thrive despite adversities.)

N in w la ti b n w.
It is out of one's stock of cotton that one takes some for makeweight.
(It is to one's treasury that one resorts for investments to further build the treasury.)

N j er ny dun l; kk k wl k jde a fw r igi, a p r.
It is on the day of festivities that the lazy person is miserable; instead of going inside his room and emerging again in other words, fetching gifts for the revelers he leans his arms against a tree and hisses incessantly.
(Shiftless people eventually reap the disgrace of their laziness when they are unable to do what is socially expected of them.)

N teere, n tr, ng e b j wj.
Erratically, with almost imperceptible forward movement, just so ng danced until he was at the market.
(If unimpeded or unattended to, a seemingly negligible development will eventually assume proportions one cannot ignore.) [48]


42. Algba is the title of the chief of the egn (masqueraders), who are supposed to be partial to ll, steamed bean-loaf.  [Back to text]


43. As the day waxes and the sun rises the masquerader's shroud would become uncomfortably hot, and strenuous exertions would become that much more of a trial.  [Back to text]


44. Both trees are huge, and there is supposedly some rivalry between them.  [Back to text]


45. The sieve's complaint would be either that it is incessantly agitated, or that it had been made full of holes.  [Back to text]


46. A sharp prickly plant found near rivers. It is presumed to be ever ready to attack.  [Back to text]


47. Ay is a game played with the smooth hard seeds of the Heloptelea Grandis (ulmaceae) tree. See Abraham 84.  [Back to text]


48. The proverb refers to the sometimes sedate or erratic dancing of the cultists of the god ng[Back to text]