Part 5: On consistency; honesty, openness, plain speaking, reliability
Bí a bá ká okó mọ́ obìnrin nídìí á ní kùkú ni
(If one catches a penis in a woman's vagina she will argue that it is only corn-cob.)
Trust a woman to deny even the obvious.
Bí a bá ńyọ́lẹ̀ dà, ohun abẹ́nú a máa yọ́ni ṣe.
If one engages secretly in treachery, secret disasters befall one.
(Crimes committed in secret do not go unrequited.)
Bí abẹ́rẹ́ bí abẹ́rẹ́ lèèyàn ńṣèké; ọjọ́ tó bá tóbi tó ọkọ́ tí a fi ńroko ní ńpani.
Like a needle, like a needle, one compiles falsehood; the day it is as big as the hoe one uses on a farm, that is the day it kills one.
(Small falsehoods eventually grow into a habit powerful enough to kill.)
Bí ẹnú bá jẹ, ojú á tì.
If the mouth has eaten, the eyes shut down.
(If one has received some favor from a person, one's eyes will be closed to the person's faults.)
Bí ìgbín ńfà, ìkaraun a tẹ̀lé é.
When the snail crawls, its shell follows.
(The dependent person always sticks close to his or her support.)
Bí ìkà-á bá ńrojọ́, ìkà kọ́ ni yó dàá a.
If the wicked person states a case, it is not the wicked person that will judge it.
(The wicked will not prevail in the face of impartial judges.)
Bí o finú ṣìkà tí o fòde ṣòótọ́, ọba séríkí á rín ọ rín ọ.
If you hide wickedness inside you and display a kindly disposition, God above will laugh hard at you.
(No secret act of wickedness is concealed from God.)
Bí o ní ọ̀pọ̀ oògùn, tí o ní èké, kò níí jẹ́; orí ẹní jẹ́ ó ju ewé lọ; ìpín jà ó ju oògùn lọ.
If you have a great deal of medicine and you are false, it will not work; one's head works better than any herb; one's destiny is far more effective than any medicine.
(One's evil intentions make one's medicine ineffective; one's best hope lies in one's head and one's destiny.)
Bí o rí i, wà pé o ò rí; ọkọ́ fún ọ lówó, àlé gbà á ná.
If you saw it you would say you did not; your husband gave you money and your lover spends it.
(An unfaithful woman deserves no trust.)
Bí ó ti wù kó pẹ́ tó, olóòótọ́ ò níí sùn sípò ìkà.
However long it takes, a truthful person will not wind up in the bed made for the wicked.
(Whatever happens in the short run, in the long run the truthful person will be vindicated.)
Bí obìnrín bá máa dán èké wò, a da aṣọ dúdú bora.
When a woman wishes to engage in mischief, she wears dark clothing.
(A woman's furtiveness portends mischief.)
Bí ojú bá sé ojú; kí ohùn má yẹ ohùn.
If eyes no longer see eyes, let the voice not miss the voice.
(Though separated by distances, people should keep agreements they made.)
Bí olókùnrùn yó bàá kú, kó má purọ́ mọ́ àlapà; omitooro kì í korò.
If an invalid is approaching death, he should not lie about the melon-seed loaf; stew is never bitter.
(If one must make excuses for one's flaws, one should make them plausible.)
Bí òru bí òru ní ńṣe aláṣọdúdú.
Longing for night-time, longing for night-time is the tendency of the person in dark clothing.
(A person engaged in secret business is always secretive.)
Bí ọgbọ́n bá tán nínú, a tún òmíràn dá.
When an elder has exhausted all his wisdom, he turns to another wisdom.
(An elder is never at a loss for what to do.)
Bí ọmọdé bá mọ igbá-di-ogóje, kò lè mọ èrò-kò-wájà.
If a youth knows two-hundred-becomes-one-hundred-and-forty, he cannot know traders-refuse-to-come-to-the-market.
(A person who knows how to cheat those who deal with him will not know how to win them back when they refuse to deal with him.)
Bí ọmọdé bá ri oyin, a ju àkàrà nù.
When a child sees honey, he throws away bean fritters.
(The inconstant person's concern is limited to the latest attraction.)
11. For the Yoruba, orí (literally, “head”) is the guardian of one's destiny.
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