Friday, 12 December 2008

E'yo Obeza (Lugbara Proverbs)

Here is a piece of Lugbara Wisdom that has been passed down to several generations since time immemorial through stories, parables, idioms and simple phrases. Special thanks go to my parents (James and Elizabeth), uncles, aunties and other individuals who generously shared their knowledge...

1.Ebu (Aco) si aza oye ku (LITERALLY TRANSLATED: 'Using the hoe is not madness for nothing'. When you cultivate, you harvest something. So whatever you do, expect a benefit)

2.Ba je obuka mva alea si ku (You cannot buy a baby strap for an unborn baby. Similar to the English proverb: Don't count your chicks before they hatch)

3.Ba yori ni ba je oku ku (You cannot marry for someone who is absent or get something that is for someone who is not there)

4.Odidia nya puro ibi (LITERALLY TRANSLATED WORD FOR WORD: Newness ate raw grasshoppers ie A stranger or somebody new in a place can be made to do anything.)

5.Ba azini ma afasi ba ze oli oli (If you rely on another man's things, you won't enjoy fully nor have peace of mind)

6.Afa dipi ma drikulu (The owner has the say. He decides on his property, how to use it or what to do with it. LITERALLY TRANSLATED: The owner has a head that is big )

7.Aparaka ma tibi agobi / Eka eyo du aparakasi, misu afazi ku (Unseriousness will make you feed on pumpkin leaves and miss out on the good things)

8.Awoko so ti andre (Anger pierced the cow's tongue. Don't get angry or else you will get hurt!)

9.Okuku dra drinjasi (Shyness killed the tortoise)

10.Ya popo nje fa (Go Slow, shaking will get things done wrongly...)/ Apopo nje fa / Pa pa nje fa (You may be in a hurry and still get plans or wishes aborted)

11.Monio ndu mbili oli ti aroni (If you spoil a poor thing or an unhealthy bull, you may pay with something better like a cow)/ Munio ndunbili nya ti kari (‘Ndunbili’ means small bum…A small bull is equal to a heifer. If you borrow a small bull, someone will demand a heifer which is not the case. The lesson here is that if you keep borrowing, someone will ask for something bigger in return...)

12.Omba draa abei mandria mva dri (If you postpone doing things, you might not do them)

13.Izo anji inguleni i angu vo re (If girls are found and married, they don't stay; they are taken but prepare a way for their relatives to go to a new place). Girls are like slashers and can go anywhere. It’s not like digging...

14.Ajobe odru funi (Listen to the correction you are given. Ajobe, an individual was warned about something but did not listen, so a buffalo [which is called Odru in Lugbara] killed him.)/ And(r)era ni odrufu ra (Someone warns you that there is a buffalo coming but you claim to have seen it. Before you can run, it will reach you and kill you)

15.Eri mite era liri etia (It is waiting for you under the granary.If you don't listen now, you will meet issues later on in future. So listen to advice)

16.Eringa mini iti nguku aja le di (You wait and see, what will affect you is still coming round the hill...Even if you are not affected now, thwe bad things are still on the way. [The other side of the hill is still coming for you] Iti is Mt. Wati in the Tara dialect)

17.(Also at Proverb 12) Omba draa abe i mandria mva dri (Ombadraa was going for a cultural war and he slaughtered a goat before going but did not eat it. In stead, he said the head of the goat should remain so that he can eat it when he returns. However, Ombadraa was killed in the cultural war)

18.Ovaa gu vile Ovaa go dri dra dri (Allow the Waterbuck to continue returning to its place and it will meet its death; If you find something bad somewhere, don't go back because you might meet your death there)

19. Nyatu li odji (Too much eating caused death of a baboon. Odji was sitted on a tree branch and ants were flying in circles. He picked ants one by one but greed in his mind made him jump to catch the whole circle and he fell...This teaches that we should do everything sparingly)

20. Andji ma angu vile

21. Odru vile ri mandua ari wiri (The last buffalo will suffer; it will be speared to death. Lesson here is that we should do things with people, don’t be alone)

22. Afa rapi dri idapikuri lu ‘i eni (Create problems with family and you will find yourself coming back to them)

23. “Embeleke ka i'agi ma iti ne, eri gu sibe inve. Eri idri ku di’a, eri igi dri ne...” (Translation: “When a baboon or monkey sees its friend’s behind, it laughs with white teeth showing. Yet, it leaves its own behind here and looks at that of its friend…”). This piece of wisdom was borrowed from CHANDIRU LEILA’s popular song “Embeleke” where she adds in Lugbara, “Someone works and you mock his work; even if he cleans toilets, he eats from that. There are those who work in offices but live in grass-thatched houses; that’s their style. Someone’s business may be growing but it is probably because he has just taken a loan. Others survive on ARVs (Anti-Retro Virals). Wait for your turn. Chandiru gave the leeway that if you are called a ‘muyaye’ (rascal, thug), you can call the mocker an ‘embeleke’. If someone calls you a prostitute or AIDS victim, you can call your accuser an ‘embeleke’…

24. Ika ndri ki ofi drio ku, iki iriaga(ga)/ obu ci (If you don't lead the goats to their shelter early, they will eat worms [on the grass they chew at dusk])

25. Pati ifi ideni re ku (The seed of a tree doesn't fall very far). A parent's behaviour can be reflected in his or her children.

26. Eyo ni mi te angu ka owubo (Issues are waiting for you when the day breaks) or E'yo ni imu abiri le, iere, erimiteria (Problems come like hunger, slowly, they are waiting for you).

27.Odru fu anira ni te (The buffalo killed the man who thought he knew it all).

28. Obibiasi etto ma jo ve ra (Because of Copying, the rabbit's house got burnt).

Other Teachings

1.Don't sit in the road or else your mother will die.

2.Don't sit on the Atuluku (fireplace) or else you will remain short. (Sometimes, it may be hot and burn you)

3.When you eat meat or drink milk, don't let them remain around your mouth so that they don't smell (Clean yourself so that you don't become allergic)

4.Don't sing while eating at the table, you may choke

5.Don't wear the Itisi (Coiled cloth or other material on which a pot is put while being carried on the head) around your foot or hand. In other words, don't play with it so that it doesn't get spoilt or stuck on your hand.

6.If you escort a visitor for a long distance from your home, he may take long to re-visit you.