Part 5: On consistency; honesty, openness, plain speaking, reliability
“Ó fò sókè ó pẹ́ títí,” irọ́ ló ńpa.
“He jumped up and stayed aloft almost for ever”: that is a lie.
(One should control the urge to exaggerate.)
Ó jọ gàtè, kò jọ gàtè, ó fẹsẹ̀ méjèèjì tiro rìn.
It may seem like staggering, and it may not seem like staggering, but he is tipping forward on tiptoes.
(A euphemism does not make an action anything other than what it is.)
O kò pọ̀ ọ́, bẹ́ẹ̀ni o ò gbé e mì.
You do not spit it out, and yet you do not swallow it.
(Said of a person who will not accept or reject a proposition.)
“Ó mọ́ mi lọ́wọ́” ní ńdi olè.
“It is an exact fit for my hand” leads to thievery.
(One should not grow too attached to other people's possessions.)
O mú oori lọ́wọ́ ọ̀tún, o mú kùùmọ̀ lọ́wọ́ òsì, o ní kí Orímáfọ̀ọ́ wá gba oúnjẹ.
You hold corn loaf in your right hand and hold a cudgel in your left hand, and you call to Orímáfọ̀ọ́ to come take the food from you.
(If one wishes to entice a person one should not adopt a threatening posture.)
Ó ńṣe apá kúlú-kúlú bí ẹni ká gbé e jó, ó sì ńṣẹnu hàmù-hàmù bí èyí tí yó gbèéni mì.
It wiggles its arms as though it would have one dance with it, and yet it is working its mouth as though it would swallow one.
(Said of a person who mixes friendly gestures with threatening ones.)
Ó pẹ́ títí ni “A-bẹnu-bí-ẹnu-ọ̀bọ”; ká ṣá sọ pé, “Ìwọ Lámọnrín, ọ̀bọ ni ọ́.”
It is mere circumlocution to say “A person has a mouth like a monkey's”; one should rather say, “You, so-and-so, you are a monkey.”
(One should be confident enough to speak without hedging.)
Ó ta ọfà sókè, ó ṣí odó borí.
He shot an arrow towards the sky and covers his head with a mortar.
(Said of a person who causes problems and goes into hiding, leaving others to suffer the consequences.)
Obì-í bọ́ lọ́wọ́ alákẹdun ó ní òún fún ará ilẹ̀; bí kò fún ará ilẹ̀, yó sọ̀kalẹ̀ wá mú u?
Kolanut dropped from the grips of a monkey and it says it makes a gift of that to ground dwellers; if he does not make a gift of it to ground dwellers would it come down to fetch it?
(One can tell when necessity is being disguised as virtue.)
Obìnrin abàlèmẹ́fà: àlè mẹ́fà ò mọ ara wọn.
A woman who has six lovers: the six lovers never know about one another.
(Women are past mistresses of deceit.)
Obìnrin-ín bímọ fúnni kò pé kó má pani; obìnrin ò bímọ fúnni kò pé kó má pani.
That a woman has had one's child does not mean she cannot kill one; that a woman has not had one's child does not mean she may not kill one.
(Intimacy is no protection against a woman.)
Obìnrin-ín pẹ́ lọ́jà ó fìgbójú wọlé.
A woman tarried too long at the market and returns home with a brazen face.
(An offender will try to ward off criticism by first going on the offensive.)
Obìnrin-ín re ilé àlè, ó fi ilé ìyá ẹ̀ tan ọkọ jẹ.
A woman goes to her lover's house and uses her mother's home to deceive her husband.
(Legitimate pursuits often serve as cover for illegitimate ones.)
Odídẹrẹ́ ẹyẹ òkun, àlùkò ẹyẹ ọ̀sà; bí a bá jẹun gbé, ká má jẹ̀ẹ́ùn gbé.
The parrot is a bird of the sea, and the kingfisher a bird of the lagoon; even though we might forget that we once partook in the food, let us never forget what we covenanted.
(However far we may roam, and however long, one should never forget promises made.)
Òfìífìí là ńrí, a ò rí òkodoro; òkodoro ḿbọ̀, baba gba-n-gba.
All we see is shadows, not clarity; but clarity will come, father of all openness.
(The truth may be hidden for long, but in the end it will emerge into the open.)
Ògèdèm̀gbé irọ́ kì í dáni síyẹ̀wù; gba-n-gba ní ńdáni sí.
An audacious lie does not trip one in one's closet; it exposes one in a public place.
(One's transgressions are liable to catch up with one in the most embarrassing circumstances.)
Ohun tí a ò fẹ́ kéèyàn ó mọ̀ là ńṣe lábẹ́lẹ̀.
It is what one wishes to keep a secret that one does in private.
(If one has nothing to hide, one should not do things in secret.)
Ojo díẹ̀, akin díẹ̀; ìyà ní ńkó jẹni.
A little cowardice, a little bravery; all it brings one is trouble.
(One should decide whether one will be bold or cowardly; inconsistency in such matters results in suffering.)
Òjò ọ̀gànjọ́ ò pa ẹni rere; bí kò pa jalè-jalè a pa yíde-yíde.
A midnight rain does not beat a decent person; if the person it beats is not a habitual thief he/she will be a habitual “night” wanderer.
(Honest people are seldom caught in compromising positions.)
Ojú gba-n-gba là ńta awọ gbà-ǹ-gbà.
It is out in the open that one spreads a huge skin.
(A matter that is of great consequence to all should be discussed in the presence of all.)
Ojú kì í fẹ́nikù kó hu ibi.
The eyes do not, because they do not see one, engage in evil against one.
(Never take advantage of people's absence to do them ill.)
Ojú lobìnrin-ín mọ̀.
Women know only the face.
(The only time one can rely on women is when one is present.)
Ojú lọ̀rọ̀-ọ́ wà.
Discourse is in the eyes.
(One should look the person with whom one is holding a dialogue in the eyes.)
Ojú olóbì la ti ńjèrè obì.
It is in the presence and with the knowledge of the kola-nut seller that one receives a gratuitous addition to one's purchase.
(If one has a right to something, one should not take it surreptitiously.)
Ojú tó ti mọni rí kì í wípe òun ò mọni mọ́.
The eyes that used to recognize one cannot say they no longer recognize one.
(Whatever happens, one should not refuse to acknowledge one's friends.)
Òkété, báyìí nìwà ẹ; o báFá mulẹ̀ o daFá.
So, giant bush rat, such is your character; you made a pact with Ifá and you betrayed Ifá.
(An address to a person one trusted but who has betrayed one.)
Òkété ní ọjọ́ gbogbo lòún mọ̀, òun ò mọ ọjọ́ mìíràn.
The large bush rat says it knows everyday, but not some other day.
(If one makes a promise, it should be firm and definite, not vague.)
Òkóbó kì í bímọ sítòsí.
The eunuch never has children close by.
(The person who has something to hide will always offer outlandish explanations.)
Olòfòófó ò gbẹ́gbàá; ibi ọpẹ́ ní ḿmọ.
The tattler does not earn six pence; thanks are all he gets.
(Tattling is not a profitable or appreciated habit.)
Olóòótọ́ ìlú nìkà ìlú.
The honest person in a town is the ogre of the town.
(Honesty seldom makes one popular.)
Olóòótọ́ kì í sùn sípò ìkà.
The honest person will not sleep in the place prepared for the wicked person.
(The honest person will in the end be vindicated.)
Òǹrorò lẹ̀gbọ́n òfófó.
Lack of compassion is the elder of back-biting.
(A person who lacks compassion will think nothing of spreading false news about others.)
“Orí jẹ́ kí mpé méjì” obìnrin ò dénú.
“May my head grant that I have a partner” as a woman's prayer is not sincere.
( People often pay lip service to concepts they do not believe in.)
Òtítọ́ dọ́jà ó kùtà; owó lọ́wọ́ là ńra èké.
Truth arrives at the market but finds no buyer; it is with ready cash, though, that people buy falsehood.
(People appreciate falsehood more than truthfulness.)
Òtítọ́ kì í kú ká fi irọ́ jọba.
The truth does not die to be replaced as king by the lie.
(The lie cannot match the truth in esteem.)
Òtítọ́ kì í ṣìnà; irọ́ ní ńforí gbọgbẹ́.
Truth never goes awry; it is falsehood that earns a gash on the head.
(Truth will not bring misfortune; falsehood leads to trouble in the end.)
Òtítọ́ korò; bí omi tooro nirọ́ rí.
Truth is bitter; falsehood is like meat stew.
(It is more difficult to be truthful than to lie.)
Òtítọ́ lolórí ìwà.
Truthfulness is the chief of attributes.
(There is no better attribute than truthfulness.)
Òtítọ́ ní ńtú ẹrù ìkà palẹ̀.
It is truth that unpacks the load of the wicked for all to see.
(Truth will triumph over the wicked.)
Owó lobìnrin-ín mọ̀.
Women care only about money.
(Whatever women do they do only for money.)
21. Orímáfọ̀ọ́ means “Let not the skull crack.”
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22. When one purchases some commodity the seller often would give one some extra as a sweetener, or gratuity.
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23. Giant bush rats love palm kernels, and these are also used in Ifà divination. The rat is apparently raiding Ifá's preserve when it gathers palm kernels.
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24. In a bid to conceal his calamity the eunuch will always claim that he has fathered several children, but they always live far, far away.
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25. The reference is to a woman's having a co-wife.
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