Part 5: On consistency; honesty, openness, plain speaking, reliability
f sk p tt, ir l pa.
He jumped up and stayed aloft almost for ever: that is a lie.
(One should control the urge to exaggerate.)
j gt, k j gt, fs mjj tiro rn.
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 k p , bni o gb e m.
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.)
m mi lw n di ol.
It is an exact fit for my hand leads to thievery.
(One should not grow too attached to other people's possessions.)
O m oori lw tn, o m km lw s, o n k Ormf w gba onj.
You hold corn loaf in your right hand and hold a cudgel in your left hand, and you call to Ormf to come take the food from you.
(If one wishes to entice a person one should not adopt a threatening posture.)
e ap kl-kl b ni k gb e j, s nu hm-hm b y t y gbni m.
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.)
p tt ni A-bnu-b-nu-b; k s p, w Lmnrn, b ni .
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.)
ta f sk, od bor.
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.)
Ob- b lw alkdun n n fn ar il; b k fn ar il, y skal w m 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.)
Obnrin ablmf: l mf m ara wn.
A woman who has six lovers: the six lovers never know about one another.
(Women are past mistresses of deceit.)
Obnrin-n bm fnni k p k m pani; obnrin bm fnni k p k m 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.)
Obnrin-n p lj fgbj wl.
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.)
Obnrin-n re il l, fi il y tan k j.
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.)
Oddr y kun, lk y s; b a b jun gb, k m jn gb.
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.)
ff l r, a r kodoro; kodoro b, 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.)
gdgb ir k dni syw; gba-n-gba n dni s.
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 t a f kyn m l e lbl.
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 d, akin d; y n k jni.
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.)
j gnj pa ni rere; b k pa jal-jal a pa yde-yde.
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.)
Oj gba-n-gba l ta aw gb--gb.
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.)
Oj k fnik k 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.)
Oj lobnrin-n m.
Women know only the face.
(The only time one can rely on women is when one is present.)
Oj lr- w.
Discourse is in the eyes.
(One should look the person with whom one is holding a dialogue in the eyes.)
Oj olb la ti jr ob.
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.)
Oj t ti mni r k wpe un mni m.
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.)
kt, by nw ; o bF mul o daF.
So, giant bush rat, such is your character; you made a pact with If and you betrayed If.
(An address to a person one trusted but who has betrayed one.)
kt n j gbogbo ln m, un m j mrn.
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.)
kb k bm sts.
The eunuch never has children close by.
(The person who has something to hide will always offer outlandish explanations.)
Olff gbgb; ibi p n m.
The tattler does not earn six pence; thanks are all he gets.
(Tattling is not a profitable or appreciated habit.)
Olt l nk l.
The honest person in a town is the ogre of the town.
(Honesty seldom makes one popular.)
Olt k sn sp k.
The honest person will not sleep in the place prepared for the wicked person.
(The honest person will in the end be vindicated.)
ror lgbn ff.
Lack of compassion is the elder of back-biting.
(A person who lacks compassion will think nothing of spreading false news about others.)
Or j k mp mj obnrin dn.
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.)
tt dj kt; ow lw l ra k.
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.)
tt k k k fi ir jba.
The truth does not die to be replaced as king by the lie.
(The lie cannot match the truth in esteem.)
tt k n; ir n for gbgb.
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.)
tt kor; b omi tooro nir r.
Truth is bitter; falsehood is like meat stew.
(It is more difficult to be truthful than to lie.)
tt lolr w.
Truthfulness is the chief of attributes.
(There is no better attribute than truthfulness.)
tt n t r k pal.
It is truth that unpacks the load of the wicked for all to see.
(Truth will triumph over the wicked.)
Ow lobnrin-n m.
Women care only about money.
(Whatever women do they do only for money.)
21. Ormf means Let not the skull crack.
[Back to text]
22. When one purchases some commodity the seller often would give one some extra as a sweetener, or gratuity.
[Back to text]
23. Giant bush rats love palm kernels, and these are also used in If divination. The rat is apparently raiding If's preserve when it gathers palm kernels.
[Back to text]
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.
[Back to text]
25. The reference is to a woman's having a co-wife.
[Back to text]