|Drawing found at dragoart.com|
West Africans love to speak in proverbs and fables.
And any time I actually use one of the common proverbs here... in the local language, and in the right circumstances, my Nigerien friends just love it.
They love it too, when I goof up and misapply a saying, but that is for entirely different reasons.
I think this love of proverbs is part of their more relational, only-indirectly- confrontational-while-trying-hard-not-to-cause-a-friend-or-someone-valued-or-important-to-lose-face-and-be-shamed centered culture. I love that aspect of living here - communication that is very other centered... although frustration mounts rapidly when I just can't wrap my mind around the point of a particular proverb being shared...
Here's one of my favorites - a short fable found in many different African languages: I heard a naturalist at the local zoo tell this one to a group standing outside the hyena cages:
"A very hungry hyena went out on the plains to hunt for food. He came to a branch in the bush road where the two paths veered off in different directions. He saw two goats caught in the thickets at the far end of the two different paths. With his mouth watering in anticipation, he decided that his left leg would follow the left path and his right leg the right path. As the two paths continued to veer in different directions he tried to follow them both at once. Finally he split in two." (This and many other proverbs and fables can be found at afriprov.org .)
Do you know a proverb from your mother language or home culture
that says essentially the same thing?
I'm thinking of one...
What are some things you do to try and conform to or show acceptance and appreciation for your adopted culture?