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Part 6: On consideration, kindness, and thoughtfulness


A kì í dùbúlẹ̀ ṣubú.
One does not fall from a prone position.
(Hunger cannot make one faint and fall if one goes to sleep.)

A kì í fi àìmọ̀nà dá pàdé-m̀-pàdé.
One does not play the rendezvous game without knowing one's way.
(One should not enter into competition handicapped by ignorance.)

Abúni ò tó abẹ̀rín; bẹ́ẹ̀ni abẹ̀rín ò mọ ẹ̀hìn ọ̀la.
The person who insults one is not as bad as the person who derides one; yet the person who derides one does not know what the future may bring.
(Fortunes and circumstances may be reversed in time.)

Adìẹ́ yẹ̀gẹ̀, a ṣe bí ó ṣubú.
The chicken lists to one side, we think it has fallen.
(Never be too quick to celebrate the demise of a nemesis.)

Àfẹ́ẹ̀rí kan ò ju ká rí igbó ńlá bọ́ sí lọ; ẹbọ kan ò ju ọ̀pọ̀ èèyàn lọ; “Òrìṣá gbé mi lé àtète” kan ò ju orí ẹṣin lọ.
There is no disappearing trick better than the availability of a dense forest to disappear into; there is no sacrifice more efficacious than having many people on one's side; there is no “The gods have elevated me” that is higher than the back of a horse.
(Practical and realistic moves are more reliable than mysterious expectations.)

A-fi-tirẹ̀-sílẹ̀-gbọ́-tẹniẹlẹ́ni, Ọlọ́run ní ḿba gbọ́ tirẹ̀.
He-who-neglects-his-affairs-to-care-for-others'-affairs, it is God that takes care of his affairs.
(God takes care of the benevolent.)

Àgbà ṣoore má wo bẹ̀.
Elder, do a favor and remove your eyes from it.
(Do not advertize your acts of kindness, or pointedly await acknowledgment of them.)

Àgbò ò ṣéé mú; ọ̀dá ò ṣéé mú; ohun gbogbo ní ńtóbi lójú ahun.
A ram is too much to give; a gelded animal is too much to give; everything is excessive in the sight of a miser.
(Expect no favor from a miser.)

Àì-fi-ǹ-kan-pe-ǹ-kan ní ḿba ǹ-kan jẹ́.
It is failure-to-count-anything-as-significant that ruins things.
(Minimizing problems results in disasters.)

Àìmète, àìmèrò, lọmọ ìyá mẹ́fà-á fi ńkú sóko ẹgbàafà.
Lack of resourcefulness and lack of thoughtfulness cause six siblings to die as pawns for only twelve thousand cowries.
(Pooling resources and wisdom ensures better results than going it alone.) [1]

Àjẹ́gbà ni ti kọ̀ǹkọ̀.
Croaking-in-relays is the mark of frogs.
(It is in the nature of sheep to follow and to lack initiative.)

Akẹ́yinjẹ ò mọ̀ pé ìdí ńro adìẹ.
The person who gathers eggs to eat does not know that the chicken's orifice hurts.
(One should never be so preoccupied with one's own pleasures that one does not care what they cost others.)

A-lágbára-má-mèrò, baba ọ̀lẹ́.
He-who-has-strength-but-lacks-discretion, father of laziness.
(A powerful but thoughtless person is worse than the laziest person.)

A-láì-mète-mèrò ọkọ tó fi adìẹ ìyàwó bọ orí ìyálé; bí baálé bá jẹ́ ìkà, èwo ni tòrìṣà?
The shiftless, thoughtless husband who makes the junior wife's chicken as a sacrifice to the senior wife's head; if the husband is wicked, what about the god?
(God will not accept offerings or prayers tainted with wickedness.)

Aláràjẹ ò mọ ọdún; a-biṣu-úta-bí-igi.
He who purchases the food he eats cares not what the season is; his yams always flourish like trees.
(The consumer does not know what the producer goes through.)

Arúgbó ṣoge rí; àkísà-á lògbà rí.
The old person was once a dandy; the rag was once in fashion.
(Those who are favored should remember that times and circumstances do change.)

Àṣẹ Ọ̀yọ́ kì í ró “Gbà”, àfi “Múwá.”
The order from Ọ̀yọ́ never sounds “Gbà” (meaning “Take!”), only “Múwá (meaning “Bring.”)
(It is good to give as well as to receive.) [2]

Àṣírí-i náwó-náwó kì í tú lójú ahun.
The big spender is never disgraced in the presence of the miser.
(The free spender will always be honored in the community.)

Aṣiwèrè ló bí ìyá ọ̀bọ.
It was an imbecile that gave birth to the mother of the monkey.
(The fool belongs in the same lineage as the imbecile.) [3]

A-ti-ara-ẹni-roni, ajá ọdẹ.
A-creature-that-applies-other's-circumstances-to-itself, a hunter's dog.
(The hunter's dog would do well to place itself in the shoes of the animals it hunts.)

Ayídóborí tafà sókè: ojú Olúwaá tó wọn.
Those who cover their heads with mortars and shoot arrows into the sky: God's eyes encompass them all.
(God sees all acts of selfishness and wickedness towards others.)


1. If the children knew how to plan and pool their resources they would have redeemed themselves. The amount in question is insubstantial. It was usual in traditional Yoruba society for a person to pawn himself or a willing relative for a certain amount; as soon as the amount was repaid the pawn was redeemed.  [Back to text]


2. This is obviously the sentiment of Ọ̀yọ́'s vassal towns that have to send tributes periodically.  [Back to text]


3. The word ọ̀bọ means “monkey,” but the Yoruba use it to designate a fool.  [Back to text]