One Week, One Proverb

Case 21:

Stop the fowl foraging dirt for food. You don’t know if you’ll be the one to eat its legs.

Insight/Background Story:

Years ago, Nkolika (not her real name), one of my mother friends, told her that she didn’t particularly care about the behaviour of other children in her neighbourhood. If they made a habit of doing bad things, that wouldn’t deny her a good night’s sleep. As far as she was concerned, she’d train her own children the right way.

Mum was quick to admonish her. She further told her not to be “self-centred.” But Nkolika insisted, “They’re not my kids. Why would a couple bring a child into the world if they weren’t prepared to train it?”

On the phone with Mum a few days ago, she told me that someone had (formally) asked for Nkolika’s first daughter’s hand in marriage. Guess what? Her suitor grew up on the same street with her family. Back then, he was notorious for bullying and stealing. Now a very rich man, it is rumoured that he makes his money through dirty means and that includes human rituals.


Some people prefer not to caution others when they find them doing the wrong thing because they don’t want to be seen as being preachy. Well, here is my candid opinion: we are directly or indirectly affected by the actions of other people. Take the bully, for example: If he is not corrected (at an early age/stage), he may later choose to vie for the presidency of a nation. And if he eventually wins, he will step on the toes of his people without feeling sorry for it.


42 responses to “One Week, One Proverb”

  1. I’m with you and your mother, Uzo. However, here in the States, there is definitely a movement among many not to intervene with instructing/reprimanding children if they’re not yours, but allowing (assuming) the parents to do so. I have cut back a bit, and often wait longer for the parent/responsible adult to step up and be responsible. But I harken back to “it takes a village to raise a child,” even when my own kids have wished I’d turn the other cheek like “everybody else’s parents” :). Nope. I agree with Ignoramus above: what kind of society do I seek to create for my children and everybody else’s? Thanks for the cool proverb and the stimulating discussion. Have a terrific week! Cheers.

      • Haha. I’ve also said the same thing to my mum. That’s the truth about good discipline. You value it when you get older.

    • What a generous comment, Sirena! You’ve made an important observation: some parents argue that they reserve sole right to caution their wards whenever their children misbehave. This, in a way, still spoils such children because they are “indirectly” encouraged to do whatever they like behind their parents, knowing that their parents will always come to their defense before asking what really happened.

  2. An excellent moral that is so true, my blogging friend! A piece of wisdom that applies to us all, no matter where we live! Thank you! Much love! 🙂

  3. Old wisdom comes from palace that we have yet to visit. Some lessons from the past can predict the future. You HAVE A WISE Mom ,and I fully agree with her. Too often wee don’t think about how today’s actions might affect the future.

    • Exactly, some lessons from the past can predict the future. Over the years, I have seen the importance of good parenting. And I have Mom–quite loving and wise–to thank mostly for what I have received. Thanks for the visit, Ronnie.

  4. This is so true. We should look out for others because their actions will in some way affect our lives. Our actions too affect the lives of others. I have never heard the saying before-I like it. It holds a lot of weight.

    • Hello, Val. I wonder if I ever told you that my paternal grandmother (late) did blow my little mind with proverbs and fables. In Igbo land, elderly men and women sometimes use them to convey their message. To the proverb: yes, our actions also affect the lives of others. It’s all down to training and discipline, I believe.

      Thanks for coming around.

      • No you hadn’t mentioned that before. That really is very impressive. I love to read them a lot.
        It is a good thing she taught them to you as now the rest of us get to enjoy reading them and learning new lessons or better ways to say certain things.

  5. Wow! This is a nice one. And it’s quite funny. 🙂 Nwanne m, I love our Igbo wisdom o! Thanks for sharing.

  6. A few generations ago it would have probably been normal for teachers and neighbours to admonish a misbehaving child but as societies have become more nuclear that becomes less likely to happen.

    • I don’t doubt it at all. Nowadays it is the mind-your-business syndrome that somehow gives rise to big problems. I dearly appreciate your take on this, Lena.

  7. Actually, this is extremely relevant to countries like Africa, India where crowded locales offer ample scope for upbraiding others’ kids along with your own… and yes, you don;t know who your daughter will marry after 20 years. But then, parents today are touchy in a silly sort of way: they will themselves spoil their kids and not see the virtue of somebody else telling the kids of the latter’s faults… ‘I want to spoil my kids and what’s it to you?’ Hey, to all those parents: this is a great proverb. And your mother was a wise person. As are you! 🙂

    • Haha, you speak so truly that one may think that you’ve a magic ball in your hand. But then, that the sad fact about it all. I totally agree that the system of living in Africa makes it possible–to a large extent–for parents to raise their children properly–that is, if they really want to. I’ve seen mothers caution or beat children (not their own) who misbehave. But as development continues to reach out to corners of the Earth, we find out that people are increasing redefining what is true and noble to do. And like you rightly put it, some parents would like to spoil their kids thinking it is love.

      Thanks a lot for the generous comment, MJ. I’m very grateful for your time.

      • Nah…in India and Africa, we like to make time for friends,right?
        Please don’t thank me…. I love to be here, read your thought provoking posts, get to know you, your life, your country better… 🙂

        Have a good weekend!

        • Yes, we do–I’ve read in a history book that compared African values with that in India. It says core values are still upheld and this include the family setting.

          I wish you wonderful weekend, MJ.

  8. Too many parents in the states are overly protective of their children and would be outraged if you reprimanded them for misbehaving. I’ve had to chase many a misbehaving child off my porch whose parents are nowhere to be found. I’m the grumpy old guy on my block!

    • Haha. I can imagine the kind of trouble those kids are. Being overly protective of children is evident here as well, although it’s not openly encouraged. It all boils down to what we tell our kids and how we want to train them.

  9. Wow, what a horrible man! I hope his bride is not secretly as vile as he.

    As children we grew in a neighborhood where any one of the dozens of mothers would grab a hold of us and either warn us that our bad behavior was getting close to getting us a skelp or we were dragged to our parents and our parents skelped us in full view of the neighbors. Either way no one was offended by such because they all worked so hard and had so much to do that it was a blessing for a neighbor to keep a watch out for everyone’s kids. Sometimes I wish it was still like that. Today too many folks are locked behind their doors and don’t even know the name of the kid across the street.

    • He is such a horrible man indeed. I don’t think my Mum’s friend agreed to such marriage.

      Ah, your childhood neighborhood is exactly the same as mine back then. It’s also the same type of neighborhood I happen to find myself in at the moment. For some of my neighbors, they would prefer to visit the parents of the offending kid to table their complaint; others would reprimand on the spot. There are laws at such against correcting a child that is not yours.

  10. Also, as your proverb shows, that bully might come into your family, making it a very up-close and personal problem. An evil leader, of course, is a problem for everyone.

    The children in any community grow up and take their place – for good or for bad – I have often seen that I cannot undo a wrong that makes a child angry or betrayed, but I can give an encouraging word that helps that child feel better about themselves. It might make a small difference, or a big difference, but I wish more people would do it.

    Cheers to you, Uzoma. 🙂

    • You’ve a very good point there: the bully could also become a problem for us too if he eventually occupies a seat in government.

      Yeah, we can’t undo a wrong. What’s most important is image of the child afterwards–like you rightly pointed out. The child definitely needs encouragement and words of advice. Here we say “correct a child with one hand; bring him affectionately close with the other.”

      Thanks for the visit, Allyson. Wish you a blissful week ahead.

  11. A very thoughtful post! Of recent, I have had a burden for children (not my own) around where I live. This burden translated into me being a Sunday school teacher and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. It’s a thing of joy to train children the right way they should go, by doing so, one is training a nation. Thanks for sharing this brother, it’s great!

    • Your comment reminds me of one of my Aunts, Stella. She’s also a Sunday school teacher in the Anglican church. I remember sitting at one of her bible teaching, which IMO was really electrifying. I picture you doing the same for the children and older ones over there. One child trained, is one great step to nation building. Thanks for the visit 🙂

  12. People often say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe that’s true. Parents can do a good job, but with the support of others the child gains so much more.

  13. That’s a thoughtful proverb. You’re so brought up with good values. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh thank you, my good friend. My late granny (father’s mother) was a great storyteller and had a way of speaking–she sometimes spoke in proverbs.

      • What a charm ! Back in India too, it’s the same. Even some of the school students say that funnily and laugh out loud 🙂

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