Omokungu omwegenu nogoseseni ase omosa cha oye. (Gusii).
Mke mwema ni taji kwa mumewe. (Swahili).
Une bonne femme est un diademe ou une couronne a son mari (epoux). (French).
A faithful woman is a crown to her husband. (English).
Gusii (Kenya) Proverb
Background, Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use
African culture is rich in proverbs on the themes of “Marriage,” “Family,” and “Relationships.” The Gusii Ethnic Group lives in Southwest Kenya on the border of Tanzania.
According to the Bible, God has a great purpose for man. That why he gave him a helper who will be with him all the rest of his life in sorrow and happiness. The ordinance of marriage was sanctioned in paradise (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Monogamy was the original law under which humans lived, but polygamy commenced early (Genesis 4:19), and continued to prevail all down through Jewish history. A man might have a plurality of wives but a wife could have only one husband. A wife’s legal right and duties (Exodus 21:10; Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Timothy 5:14) are specified. She could be divorced in special cases (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), but could not divorce her husband.
In 1 Samuel 25 the Bible tells us about Abigail who was the wife to Naval, a rich man from Moan whose possessions were in Carmel. After getting the information of what and how her husband insulted David the king of Israel, she had prepared herself and one of their servants, They went before the King and apologized on behalf of her husband who had insulted him (1 Samuel 25:28…). And David the King of Israel forgave him (1 Samuel 25:32), She had done all this without informing her husband. Proverbs 31:10-13 tells us the full values of a loyal, true, and good woman.
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
This Gusii Proverb encourages young men to make a careful choice whenever they prepare for marriage. It encourages women to protect their husbands and families at large. This Gusii proverb can be helpful to the African countries that are preparing for the III Extraordinary World Synod of Bishops on "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization," to take place in Rome from 5-19 October, 2014. The Vatican has asked national bishops’ conferences around the world to conduct a wide-ranging poll of Catholics asking for their opinions on church teachings on family, marriage, annulments, single-parent families, birth control, artificial contraception, surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire), premarital cohabitation, culture of non-commitment and a presumption that the marriage bond can be temporary, common law marriage, mixed or inter-religious marriage, same-sex marriage/unions and divorce. This includes such Africa-related topics as traditional (customary) marriage, polygamy and dowry (bridewealth) – sometimes understood as the purchase price of the woman. This connects with many African Catholic dioceses celebrating 2014 as “The Year of the Family.” This flows into the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA from 22-27 September, 2015.
The 2015 African Proverbs Calendar will have the theme “Family, Marriage and Relationships.” To the request on our African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Facebook Page: “Please contribute an African Proverb or Saying on ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ for our meeting on Saturday, 23 November, 2013. If possible mention the country and language. Thanks.” There were 62 responses.
NOTE: This proverb is No. 16 in A Collection of 100 Gusii Proverbs by Elias Bushiri Elie. A work in collaboration with the African Proverbs Working Group. Nairobi, Kenya.
Elias Bushiri Elie
Photographs provided by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Art and Design
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