Part 5: On consistency; honesty, openness, plain speaking, reliability
Ẹgẹ́ ò ṣákìí; ẹní bá bọ́ sábẹ-ẹ rẹ̀, a pa á kú pátá-pátá.
The ẹgẹ́ trap never misses; whatever passes beneath it it strikes dead.
(A certain person, or thing, can be relied upon to do what is expected of him, her, or it.)
Ẹgbẹ̀tàlá: bí a ò bá là á, kì í yéni.
Ẹgbẹ̀tàlá: if one does not explain it, no one understands what it means.
(Ambiguous statements result in confusion.)
Ẹ-kòì-fẹ́-mi-kù, tó ta ajá-a rẹ̀ lókòó.
You-have-not-seen-the-last-of-me, who sold his dog for twenty cowries.
(A person duped without his or her knowledge will be back for redress once the fact dawns on him or her.)
Ẹ̀là lọ̀rọ̀; bí a ò bá là á rírú ní ńrú.
Statements must be clarified; if they are not, they become muddy.
Compare the following entry.
Ẹ̀là lọ̀rọ̀; bóbìnrín bá jókòó a laṣọ bòbò.
Statements must always be clarified; when a woman sits she covers her genitals with her wrapper.
(One must always be clear in one's speeches or intentions.)
(This is a variant of the preceding entry.)
Ẹlẹ́rìí ní ńyanjú ẹjọ́; ẹlẹ́rìí kì í ṣe elégbè.
It is a witness that clears up a case; a witness is not a partisan.
(People called to bear witness in a case should be impartial.)
Ẹ̀ẹ̀mejì letí ọlọ́jà ńgbọ́rọ̀.
The ears of the king hear everything twice.
(Whoever will judge a case must hear it twice from both sides of the dispute.)
Ẹni a kò fẹ́ nilé-e rẹ̀ ńjìnna lójú ẹni.
It is a person one does not love whose house is distant in one's estimation.
(One can always find an excuse for not doing what one does not wish to do.)
Ẹní bá sùn là ńjí, a kì í jí apirọrọ.
One wakes only those that sleep; one does not wake those pretending to sleep.
(One should deal with people who are in earnest, not with gamesters.)
Ẹní gbé àrùn pamọ́ kọjá ore oníṣègùn.
Whoever conceals a disease is beyond help from a doctor.
(People in need of help should not conceal the fact.)
Ẹni tí a nà ní kùm̀mọ̀ mẹ́fà, tó ní ọ̀kan ṣoṣo ló ba òun, níbo nìyókùú sọnù sí?
A person who is hit six times with a club and says only one blow landed; where did the other blows disappear to?
(A person who tries to minimize his or her obvious misfortune deceives no one.)
Ẹni tí ó sá là ńlé.
People chase only those who flee.
(Those who act as though they are guilty are the ones presumed to be guilty.)
Ẹni tí ó bá máa jẹ́ Ọ̀ṣákálà a jẹ́ Ọṣákálá; ẹni tó bá máa jẹ́ Òṣokolo a jẹ́ Òṣokolo; èwo ni Ọ̀ṣákálá-ṣokolo?
Whoever wants to be known as Ọ̀ṣákálá should be known as Ọ̀ṣákálá; whoever wants to be known as Òṣokolo should be known as Òṣokolo; what is the meaning of Ọ̀ṣákálá-ṣokolo?
(One should make up one's mind to be one way or the other, and not keep straddling fences.)
Ẹni tí ó bá mọ ìṣe òkùnkùn, kó má dàá òṣùpá lóró; ohun a ṣe ní ńmúni-í rìnde òru; òkùnkùn ò yẹ ọmọ èèyàn.
Whoever knows what darkness can do must not antagonize the moon; one's actions “sometimes” send one abroad at night; roaming around in the dark is not a becoming habit.
(It is best to cultivate those forces that might serve one well in the future.)
Ẹni tí ó ṣe ojú kò da bí ẹni tó ṣe ẹ̀hìn.
The person who honors one in one's presence is nothing like the person who honors one in one's absence.
(It is what people say of one, or what they do on one's behalf, in one's absence that matters.)
Ẹni tí ó fẹ́ kúure, kó hùwà rere.
Whoever wishes to die a decent death, let him or her live decently.
(As one lives, so one dies, and so one is remembered.)
Ẹni tí ó sùn tó ní òún kú, tó bá jí, ta ni yó wìí fún?
The person who is asleep but spreads the word that he or she is dead, when he or she awakens whom will he or she tell?
(If one paints oneself into a corner one is truly stuck.)
Ẹni tí ó gbọ́n tó ńpurọ́; ẹni tó mọ̀ràn tó ńṣèké; ẹni tó mọ̀ pé nǹkan ò sí tó ńtọrọ; èwo ló sàn nínú àwọn mẹ́tẹ̀ẹ̀ta?
The person who is wise and yet lies, the person who knows the truth and yet dissembles, the person who knows one has nothing and yet asks something of one, which is any good among the three?
(The liar, the dissembler, and the one who would embarrass one, are all equally evil.)
Ẹni tí ó gbépo lájà ò jalè bí ẹni tó gbà á sílẹ̀ fún un.
The person who removes oil from the rafter is less a thief than the person who helps him set it on the floor.
(The abettor is more a culprit than the perpetrator.)
Ẹnìkan kì í yọ̀ kí ilẹ̀ ó sẹ́.
When a person slips, the earth may not deny responsibility or knowledge.
(For whatever one does, one should be willing to accept responsibility.)
Ẹnu òpùrọ́ kì í ṣẹ̀jẹ̀.
The liar's mouth does not bleed.
(Lies have no tell-tale labels attached to them.)
Ẹnu-u rẹ̀ ní ńdá igba, tí ńdá ọ̀ọ́dúnrún.
His or her mouth is the same one that proposes two hundred and proposes three hundred.
(An unreliable person's mouth is ever running, and what comes out of it is not to be trusted.)
Ẹran tí a kì í jẹ, a kì í fi ehín pín in.
Meat that one does not eat, one does not bite into allotments with one's teeth.
(One should be unequivocal in one's commitments or avoidances.)
Ẹ̀tàn kì í ṣe ọgbọ́n.
Deceit is no wisdom.
(Deceit is not a reliable strategy to count on.)
Ẹ̀wà yí kò dùn, ẹ̀wà yí kò dùn, àáṣó ìpàkọ́ ḿmì tìtì.
These beans are not delicious, these beans are not delicious, yet the coiffure at the occiput is shaking vigorously.
(A person's actions towards a person or thing belie his or her detracting comments; if one claims to dislike something or someone, one's actions should not say the opposite.)
Ẹyẹlé ní òun ò lè bá olúwa òun jẹ, kí òun bá a mu, kí ó di ọjọ́ ikú-u rẹ̀ kí òun yẹrí.
The pigeon says it cannot share its owner's food and drink, and then, when the day of his death arrives, duck its head.
(If one shares the good times with a person, one should be prepared to share the bad times also.)
14. Ẹgẹ́ is a trap made of sharp spikes, designed to impale from above whatever trips it.
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15. The word ẹgbẹ̀tàlá could be a contraction of either igba mẹ́tàlá (2,600) or ẹgbàá mẹ́tàlá (26,000).
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16. The second part about a woman's genitals is gratuitous flippancy; it takes advantage of the syllable là (in Ẹ̀là), which means “clarify,” and also denotes the action of passing one's loincloth between one's split thighs so as to cover one's genitalia.
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