|Emuana uritanga, encano, w’arisa mu yakusianga mo’i kimua. (Nyanga)
Mtoto anakula kwa wazazi wake hata kama alimwaga unga. (Swahili)
L’enfant mange chez se parents meme s’il a verse la farine. (French)
A child eats at his/her parents even if he/she has poured out the flour. (English)
Nyanga (Northern Kivu Province Walikale Territory, DRC) Proverb
Background, Meaning and Everyday Use
Emuana uritanga, encano, w’arisa mu yakusianga mu kimua is Nyanga Proverb No. 4 in the list of A Collection of 100 Nyanga Proverbs. The birth of a boy in the family for the Nyanga people in DRC is very important ceremony. The young parents cannot name their child without consulting their family mostly their parents. During the naming ceremonies they give their names according to, and depending on the respect and honor of, the ancestors. For them having a child is a blessing from God. It is adding respect honor, power and wealth for the family. The writer of Psalm 127:3-5 says: “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quivers are full of them. They will not put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gates.”
The culture of considering as children as a sign of honor and comfort when they are adding to the generation is not for the Nyanga people only, but for many African people such as Bembe the DRC. See this wisdom and wise saying: bitu bile ummongolo wa engo (la richisse est sur le cadre du lit conjugale in French). This means that the wealth is found in the bed in the sexual relationship between husband and wife. It will produce the children and they believe that children are source of wealth and power in the family and society.
According to the Nyanga people barrenness was for a woman the greatest disgrace and the deepest tragedy. In her old age she would be desolate. She will be unhappy during her life.
1 Samuel 1: 8: “Elkanah her husband would say to her, ’why are you weeping? Why don’t eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” For the Nyanga people if someone’s wife is not bearing children. the husband would have the obligation of taking another wife.
This shows how much they value children. For this reason parents should take care for their children. They should be careful even during the time of correction or punishment when a child has done something wrong. This should be done with love and the spirit of joyfulness.
The Bible tells us in Luke 15: 11-32 about God’s love for the lost. This parable portrays repentance, love, forgiveness and joy. It gives more attention to the father’s forgiving love than to the return of the son. The son makes a big mistake of wanting to leave home and asking for his share according to Jewish culture. Instead of waiting until the father dies, he requests his share of the inheritance which would have been as much as the older son would receive. See Deut 21:17: “He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the first born by giving him a double share of all he has; that son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The rights of the firstborn belong to Him.” Normally the estate would not be divided until the father’s death. But if a son requests his share it is like he wants his father to die. The father could not accept that requirement.
But the father does what his son asks and divides his property between his two sons –something which was not allowed by their culture. At that point the young son decides he does not want to live in his father’s house any longer, and the father allows him to leave with his inheritance. The father is the picture of God who allows sinners to go out on their own. Through his goodness he tries to lead them to repentance. Romans 2:4: “Do you show contempt for the riches of his handlers, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”
After he has thrown away his inheritance by wasteful extravagance, however, he has to face a natural catastrophic. Severe famine falls on the whole country and increases his difficulties. Food becomes scarce and as result is costly. He is about to starve. When he set out from his father’s home, it never entered his mind that he would himself be in such desperate need. Having nothing to eat, he gets a job on a farm feeding pigs which Jews considered to be unclean (Deut 14: 8, Lev 11:7, 14:8, Isa 65:4, 66:17). The purpose of his parable is comparable to this Nyanga proverb which shows God as Father’s attitude of pardoning love toward sinners, stressing divine mercy that exceed all expectation.
The writer of Proverbs 23: 13-14 points out: “Do not withhold discipline from a child. If you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from the death.”
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
According to this Nyanga wisdom and wise saying, they believe that repentance, love, forgiveness and joy is the source of peace and harmony in the family. The family members should come together and solve their problems or differences so that they may live in peace. Isaiah 1: 18-19: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool”. This show God is love to all humankind. He continues saying in chapter 44: 22 that “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” From the outset of this Nyanga proverb the father represents God and the son represents the lost or sinners. Therefore, parents are required to love and forgive their children in spite of what they are doing. This will help them to come for repentance. Therefore, they should treat them as children and forget what they have done.
The African Church is not spared. It should put emphasize teaching on love and forgiveness so that the family as the foundation of the church may live in peace, unity, harmony and joy. Matthew 6: 14-15: “For if you forgive humans when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive humans their sins your father will not forgive your sins.” We are kindly requesting or making a call to the Nyanga Ethnic Group and other communities, to the members of African Proverbs Group and to others to learn this Nyanga proverb because there are lessons which are helpful for people to live in love, unity and peace in their families.
Note: This proverb is No. 4 in the list of a Collection of 100 Nyanga Proverbs by
Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin, Sabuni Jovis and Malembe Mbokani. In collaboration with African Proverbs Working Group, Goma, DRC. It will be posted as a proverb of the month of September, 2016 and as an Ebook: http://afriprov.org/resources/e-books.html
Rev. Sikitoka Mboni Valentin
African Proverbs Working Group
Cellphone: +25421 925624
Photographs provided by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 43844
Cellphone: +254 723-307992