Five African Proverbs for a Rapidly Changing World

It’s that time of year again when we revisit the wisdom of the ancients. In our annual series on African Proverbs, we are happy to introduce sage from the wisdom of other cultural traditions famous for their wisdom in upcoming blogs in the Spring.  Today we will explore Five African Proverbs for Direction in Rapidly Changing Times. Indeed!

No medicine exists that can cure hatred.

There will always be conflict in the world and there will likely be times of great confrontation.  But this proverb teaches us that we must avoid hatred at all cost. It’s OK to be angry and not everyone will be your cup of tea–but ax-grinding only grinds you.  And science has proved it. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, people who hold grudges are more likely to experience depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, high blood pressure and anxiety.  While we cannot rid the world of toxic people, we can rid our own world of their influence.  Create strong boundaries, disengage from negative activities, ignore ignorant/petty people and abandon things that trigger you. Conversely,  those afflicted with hatred, who are always trying to sabatoge, hurt or malign are miserable souls.  They have a sickness no medicine can cure. Be sure you don’t catch it, so stay far away!

All monkeys cannot hang from the same branch.

This is a great one! It’s easy to think that what someone else is doing is what you should too.  Some people can make things look quite glamorous.  But in uncertain times, you need to be diacerning about when to engage. The key is knowing that not all things are meant for you.  Be wise and realize that there are limits to a trend and in some cases, a danger to always follow the crowd!  Realize when things are reaching a critical mass (like decadent economies, markets and empires) and be proactive about finding new opportunities.

However far a stream flows, it doesn’t forget its origin.

It’s true! No matter where you go, your origin is always informing your life. It’s important to remember this not only to stay grounded,  but to understand others.  It is naive to believe that someone who emerges from a particular culture, tradition or behavioral pattern will be different from it, simply because of the passage of time or that they have travelled far.  A Module by MIT reports that ny changing specific nehaviors individuals can improve self-confidemce in their own abilities.  And while there are notable anomalies, the stream is still connected somewhere! So consider the source.

Other people’s wisdom prevents the king from being called a fool.

Absolutely true!  Leaders are made better by those with whom they take counsel.  According to the Development Dimensions International 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, 77 percent of businesses surveyed reported a leadership gap.  In turbulent times if you are a leader, you need honest, reliable intelligent people in your team. No matter how wise you are, you can always become better by consulting with others.  We are all foolish in one area or another, a good leader knows trustworthy smart people make the team successful. Consequently honest intelligent counselors and advisors provide insights you may not have considered.

A child is what you put into him.

People are quick to blame popular culture and media for the attrition of youth.  There is blame of TV, Music, video games and even food.   However, many forget that they are ultimately responsible for allowing children to engage in those activities or not providing better oversight. Violence against children has a deliterious effect, so parents and guardians must be watchful.  And it’s not just developed nations like the US and Canada, even more traditional societies face struggles. A 2018 UNICEF/Rwanda VACYS study found that 50 percent of children in Rwanda were victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.  Ultimately, this proverb encourages parents, teachers and guardians wherever they are, to be more vigilant about what they put in their children.  Times may change, but you determine what is put into your child.

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