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Part 5: On consistency; honesty, openness, plain speaking, reliability


Eb pa m ff w.
I am hungry is not a message that whistling can convey.
(A person in need of help must not be coy or cryptic in asking.)

Eegun t a b so m aj lrn, k n an.
A dog does not eat a bone tied to its neck.
(One may not take advantage of a person or thing entrusted to one's care.)

k bdn, t k egn K tij.
Lying bdn, who greets a masquerader with, It's been quite a while!
(The subject of the comment, here named bdn is prone to telling blatant lies.) [12]

k loj t b dla.
The devious will reap shame in the future.
(Wickedness with receive its just deserts in due time.)

k m il-e r w; dl m tir b dn.
The devious person builds a house and it collapses; the treacherous person builds one and it tumbles in ruins.
(Evil people will not profit from their enterprises.)

Elk lk y; oun a b e n yni.
Only a devious person knows what he or she is about; each person alone is privy to what he or she has done.
(One can never be sure about a devious person.)
See also n da er ler t . . .

Elwe- n iyn; n m w- h.
A person who has children must be responsible; one who does not must know how to behave.
(One should live up to one's responsibilities.)

lb lo w r; m rn e dn igb?
You came to buy yam-flour; how did a kid find its way into your calabash?
(The alibi offered by a culprit (subject of the proverb) is full of holes.)

r k bal, bal l k.
The guest does not pay homage to the chief, only to the host.
(One's first obligation is to one's immediate benefactor, not to the remote authority, however great.)

Einn j Jagnn r gb, dfin m; gbn ngbt Jgnn j einin r gb, dfin-n m. [13]
When flies were eating (biting) the Jagnn r heard nothing of it and the dfin knew nothing of it; but when the Jagnn began to eat flies r heard, and the dfin knew.
(People pay no attention to a victims' complaints, but are quick to fault him or her when he or she takes revenge.)

Et, gb kej k o t dj.
Ear, hear the other side before passing judgement.
(One should not form an opinion after hearing only one side of an argument.)

Et t gb l ni y gb b.
The same ears that heard about the departure will hear about the return.
(Whoever is privy to the genesis of an affair will (must) be privy to its conclusion.)

Ewr n un ml od; ni n b k bi un.
The goat says it does not set aside any house as an enemy's; whoever it has offended should ask it why.
(One wants no enemies; if one has offended anyone, the person should ask why.)


12. bdn is a woman's name, and women are forbidden to confront masqueraders. Moreover, no-one, male or female, is supposed to know the identity of the carrier of the masquerade, except for the initiates of the egn (egngn) cult, usually men.  [Back to text]