19 April 2009

Proverbs: African Wisdom

Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.

Where water is boss, the land must obey.

The world did not make any promises.

Wherever a man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.

However long the night, the dawn will break.

If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry”

Sankofa is an Akan(West African) term that literally means, "to go back and get it." One of the Adinkra symbols for Sankofa depicts a mythical bird flying forward with its head turned backward. The egg in its mouth represents the "gems" or knowledge of the past upon which wisdom is based; it also signifies the generation to come that would benefit from that wisdom. This symbol often is associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates to, "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten." The Akan believe that the past illuminates the present and that the search for knowledge is a life-long process. The pictograph illustrates the quest for knowledge, while the proverb suggests the rightness of such a quest as long as it is based on knowledge of the past.

(san = "to return") + (ko = "to go") + (fa = "to look, to seek and take")

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