African Proverb of the Month
Kwaya (Tanzania) Proverb
Background, Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use
This saying is common among Kwaya-speaking people in Tanzania. Normally the Kwaya use sayings with hidden meanings like proverbs. This saying is usually used by older people to remind or teach youngsters that they have to live according to the norms and virtues of the society. Although there are some other sayings that are closely related to this one, this saying portrays and depicts how Kwaya people live and behave.
Let us look again at the saying, A person who does not cultivate well his or her farm always, says that it has been bewitched. In its literal meaning this is a typical African thinking. Kwaya people look for and blame a witch whenever things do not go well even if they know the cause of the problems that they are experiencing.
In the religious view this saying can be applied to our daily lives. We always think that we are trapped into sins because some one person or some people have caused us to go astray. We forget that we also trespass on other people. The only way to live is to avoid trespassing on others so that we all live according to God’s love.
Let us refer to Romans 6:15-23: It says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In relation to the Kwaya saying it leads us to a new thinking. In these verses we are told that the reward of righteousness is eternal life while the reward of sin is death. This chapter tells us that you either live in a good way so that at the end you will be rewarded with eternal life or you sin and at the end your wage is death.
Here there is no way you can blame anyone else for your end result. It is between you and your acts. The Almighty God has given us the Ten Commandments as our guidance in life. Also we have the freewill of doing good or bad things. So you do not have to put your burden on someone else. Lift and carry it alone.
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
I am sure that this saying has meaning and purpose in our religious life. Although it might have been coined when Kwaya people were not yet Christianised, it is still relevant today when most Kwaya people are followers of Jesus Christ. This saying is not only good for children who are learning church teachings, but it is also good in sermons. It can be effectively used by government leaders especially right now where there is a deadly pandemic AIDS. Many people in Tanzania still do not believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease that is transmitted from one person to another. So whenever one person in a family or society contacts the disease other members (of the family or society) claim that the victim has been bewitched. It is high time that people learn and understand that the extent of any effect is due to the same extent of its cause.
Veneranda F. Malima and Damas Kagere
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.