One Week, One Proverb

Scan Case 16:

The cow that has lost its tail has only its god to chase away the flies.



Fulani cattle men are widely known for their nomadic way of life. In Nigeria, they are mainly found in the northern states. Due to the dry dusty predominant weather condition in the north, these men tend to migrate to the south with their cattle in search of green pastures, leaving behind their families and friends. So wherever they find lush fields they rest for awhile (say two weeks or more) before moving on. It’s fascinating to note that these men also may decide sell some of their cows (which they do anyway) along the way–that is, if the terms are right. Regardless of their little or no educational background, they know what effect money can have on them as individuals and collectively as splinter groups.

Every herd has an alpha cow. Control the alpha and you have authority over the rest. The alpha is sold or killed in very extreme conditions. If not, it is supposed to be a link between each cattle man and the herd; a key to survival in the wild wide open.

As a boy, I used to make drawings of these men with their cattle. Unfortunately I have none at the moment. Then, I would be on the look out for them especially on our way to our hometown every Christmas or Easter. I still remember, and vividly too, how those cows would toss their tails in order to drive away their most unwanted visitors–the flies.


In life, we need all the help and support we can get from friends and loved ones. But sometimes, such acts of kindness elude us. For me, this is the worst part about being human. Like flies, pain, depression, and bad thoughts buzz around us in their hundreds/thousands. Day and night we may curl up feeling all alone and empty. But this shouldn’t be the end of the story. Someone once said: “Where science stops, faith/religion continues.” So like a tailless cow hoping to survive this inevitable onslaught, it’s best we trust and take an optimistic view. 

28 thoughts on “One Week, One Proverb

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. / He maketh me to lie down in green pastures […]
    I am waiting for your drawings, Uzoma.

    1. Haha. Psalm 23! Happy to see you quote some part of it, Wanda. Well, I’m still contemplating on adding ‘Arts’ to my blog. But then, let’s see what will happen in the coming months.

  2. Beautifully written and illustrated, I remember while growing up watching those cows with their tails, it never crossed my mind what a tailess cow would do! Thanks for such a great post loaded with great message!!

    1. Ha! I think God, The Creator, knows they will be needing tails to keep off those badly behaved flies. And their (cows) faces have always been a stool for mystery. Sometimes I take pity on them because they are mainly taken down to the south for their meat.

      As always…I appreciate your visits 😉

  3. “Where science stops, faith/religion continues.”

    Though there are some that maintain that religion has caused as many problems as it has solved.

    1. Yes, that’s a fact. The method of worship and doctrine (all man-made) constitutes for most of the fights. Person A thinks he has a better approach hence Person B is either wasting time or is just being rebellious and vice versa. So they fight forgetting that they both believe in one truth: a changer who can’t changed.

    1. My goodness! How did you know I’d like those two stories? o dear you’re so sweet! It’s hard to pick which one is my favorite but they surely brought back the memories of my late granny–she’s an excellent storyteller too. Thanks for the links.

    1. I regret they are not here with me, Bente. That’s some fifteen years ago and without proper attention. By now I bet they must’ve been discarded alongside some of the old stuffs in my parents home 😦

  4. Sometimes, one needs to pick up their bed, find their feet and voice, to then seek out new “tails”. For remaining stationary too long will cause us to perpetually dwell on such loss without considering change as being a challenge to walk towards. Not exactly what I am trying to say, but close.

    Loving the new way you are approaching your “One Week, One Proverb” writing; the history/background, and where your thoughts live within the words.

    1. O Sean, that’s a point-blank comment from you! Wonderful! I echo your words that we certainly dwell on loss and pain and sadness forever. Moving on should be a challenge worth embracing.

      Glad you appreciate the new perspective of “One Week, One Proverb.” It’s a fruitful adventure really.

  5. This is a great post, and the idea itself of explaining African proverbs: excellent. In India too, there are some context-sensitive, and indigenous aphorisms that are rich in implication and social relevance. 🙂 . Ancient civilizations…

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