One Week, One Proverb

Case 23:

The palm fruit that goes into the pounding mortar will doubtlessly have bruises on its skin.

Insight/Background story:

One of the toys I cherished as a boy was my orange BMX bicycle. Back then, not every boy in our neighbourhood had a bicycle, so this made me feel very special. Being among the privileged few attracted my primary school friends living close by. Later, friends of my friends joined in the visit.

Whenever we met, we all had the chance to ride my bicycle. We made our own version of Hollywood movies using the bike, our toy guns (for those who had theirs) and pawpaw branches (for those who didn’t have any), shouting “bam-bam” and thrusting our toy guns in the air like witches would with their sticks. Even with all the entertainment indoors, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to ride my bike outside our home. But Mum wouldn’t let me. Her fears were simple: I could stray a long way from home or could even be hit by a car.

A few months after the purchase of my bicycle, Mum and Dad were to attend a funeral. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to experience what I’d dreamed of all along. So, minutes after they left, I got on my bicycle and rode out into the narrow streets of our neighbourhood. The air outside was magnificent! But just when I thought that things were going my way, I saw the unmistakable blue of Dad’s Peugeot.

God! Did my parents forget something?

This was trouble as far as I was concerned. Adrenaline kicked in and I began pedalling home as fast as I could.

Just about the sharp bend that led to our street, an oncoming lorry made me lose control. I fell into the gutter on my right, injuring myself and damaging the bike in the process.


Man is a curious being. Of course, his curiosity has led to a series of inventions. Well, that’s just about the good part. On the other hand, there are certain acts that have been proven as dangerous, if not life-threatening. “Don’t do this … Don’t do that,” they say. But it is the “don’t”s of life that looks more exciting. Quite strange, isn’t it? If we are weak-willed, we find ourselves going for such things, feeding our minds with the idea that we’ll take the responsibility no matter the outcome. But is that what our lives should be — kissing danger when we know we may not live to talk about it?

*Footnote: the scar on my left leg reminds me of this story*

42 thoughts on “One Week, One Proverb

  1. I love your childhood tale–vivid and delightful, except for the crash :(. Such a difficult dilemma you raise: how balance the need to discover and aspire with the wisdom of care and caution? For each of us, a different answer. I guess I am not not surprised that the inquiring Uzoma child just HAD to try out those exciting wheels beyond the prescribed confines :). So glad you lived to tell the tale. Cheers.

    1. LOL. Those where the days when I put desire over reason.:)

      Wisdom and common sense will save a man. That’s if he embraces it as soon as possible. Your support brings so much light into my world. Thanks, Sirena.

  2. Ha! ha! Reminds me of my fall into the gutter outside my home from my bicycle…. I was trying to give my sister a ride on the back and I lost balance. Thank god, it was the afternoon, mum was asleep in the house, and no lorries came into our neighborhood!

    But here’s the thing: to stray into forbidden territory always yields rare pearls… and I still, with age and experience and all, love the thrill of straying beyond. I wonder if that makes me a ‘bad’ parent?

    Thanks Uzoma, for raising this delicately poised question – swinging on the fence, for a good answer! 🙂 Have a great week ahead!

    1. My goodness! What an interesting story you have there, MJ! I once tried to carry a friend, but it didn’t work 😦 It’s so much relief to read that you and your younger sister were survivors after the accident.

      “But here’s the thing: to stray into forbidden territory always yields rare pearls… and I still, with age and experience and all, love the thrill of straying beyond. I wonder if that makes me a ‘bad’ parent?” Not at all. I believe strongly that you’re a good and concerned mum. If you don’t pass through such experience, how will your children understand? For me, I think being adventurous should partner wisdom.

      Thanks for coming around MJ.

  3. Love the way you explain the proverbs with engaging stories. Two of my younger sisters lost teeth in daring rides. I, however, was just foolish enough to enter a bicycle rodeo after just learning to ride. Of course, did not win but enjoyed the challenge.

    1. Goodness me! The months afterwards must have been a very painful period your sisters. In my own case, Dad was so annoyed he threatened to let my wound fester. Ha! That was big enough a lesson for me. A bicycle rodeo?That sounds very challenging. But the experience I concur is timeless and of course very memorable.

      Glad you enjoy the way I approach these proverbs–I think that helps us appreciate these words of wisdom better.

  4. I enjoyed reading your insight/background to case 23, as it took me down memory lane too :). Sometimes the consequences of our actions bring lasting learning points…

    “The palm fruit that goes into the pounding mortar will doubtlessly have bruises on its skin.” To this, I humbly add: the oil released from the pounding is beautiful and has many useful purposes…

    1. Exactly! Some of our wrong actions become indelible memories–they just grow old with us, haunt us at times.

      Ah! My late granny used to make soap with palm oil which served as the acid. She also used it in washing the back of her pots and such. Timi, you’re a very wise woman!

  5. What is it that makes some people naturally fearless and always seeking adventures while others are more cautious from an early age on into adulthood?

    I’ve had my share of accidents, broken bones and injuries, but not from careless pursuits. I broke my arm being thrown from a horse and broke it again falling during a school running competition. So do you consider my bruises being pounded by a mortar?

    1. Aha! That’s the point: not from careless pursuits. Take for instance, a naked wire passing current. Touching it with bare hands is dangerous — it’s been proven already. This proverb reiterates this truth.

      So, no, I don’t consider your bruises unnecessary. In fact, they were a part of learning. I had mine too from playing football and doing long jumps. From you account, you had a considerable lot and I’m sorry. Well, I just wish there is way to learn such wonderful things of life without hurting ourselves.

  6. I’ve always been in awe of the men and women who leave the safety of home for parts unknown. The courage that must take. And the curiosity that must drive them — such strong forces to motive them.

    1. I do, too. Such people deserve praise, no doubt. Courage is a driving factor and because of it a lot of wonderful discoveries have been made.

      To add, this proverb points us to acts that have already been proven as dangerous and do not need a repeat occurrence. Take for instance, putting one’s hand in fire just to ascertain if its really hot or cold.

  7. A simple proverb and a childhood misadventure equals an interesting philosophical premise from the Master Uzoma. This is why I am so attracted to your proverbs and writings. A life story that we can all identify with and relate to in our own way. Great job! We learn from our mistakes. For some, unfortunately, it takes a mistake with no lesson learned.

    1. Oh you are a wise man indeed! I especially love this: “For some, unfortunately, it takes a mistake with no lesson learned.” That’s the hard truth that also needs to be embraced.

  8. I can’t recall how many times I got myself injured riding a bicycle. I remember two, though: first one was a face to face crash with a motorcycle. The second one, I was on the backseat of the bicycle, with my older brother pedalling in front, and then I mistakenly slipped my foot into the fast rolling wheel. I have two scars to remind me of the incident.

    Thanks for sharing your experience; I can identify with it. Back then, owning a bicycle was a luxury.

    And the proverb makes a lot of sense. 🙂

    1. Hehe. So we are in the same boat then…Sorry for the scars. Ha! I wish I had a way to make them go away.

      Back then, if a boy had a bicycle in my area, the news wouldn’t take long to spread.

      Thanks for coming around, KayKay

    1. LOL. That’s where your fatherly love and concern comes in. Back then, my father didn’t let me ride again for about six months. He said it was my punishment for disobeying a good advice.

  9. I love to read your childhood thoughts and the comprehension that you draw from them now. Its indeed the curiousity that drives a person,but on latter stage it is the ability to comprehend things that are done in the past , make it more special. I have something for you .have a look ,.

    1. Hello Soumya. Sorry I getting back to you late.

      Yes, it’s the ability to draw lessons from the events of the past and then from others that makes us live a much happier life.

      Ah! A surprise? Will check it out.

  10. Awwww! This is a story I can relate to, and you do have a way of writing that makes people see the deep meanings of your post! Life is indeed full of mistakes, but we can learn from it! (Though it would be nice not to make mistakes too!) Enjoy the rest of your week dear brother!

    1. Hehe. Childhood stories show us the beauty of growing up–we only realize this after so many years 😉 Yes, I wish that life could be devoid of mistakes. But then, without mistakes there won’t be a deeper understanding of life, hence warning against future re-occurrence. Blessing to you and your family.

  11. Did I ever tell you this is my favorite category on your blog? (I hope it’s cool to have favorites). It’s been a while since I was last here.

    First off, two things I have to say:
    -I had a BMX too when I was a kid, it was black. We shared it with my two younger brothers. It’s pretty funny to think about it now.
    -Is the crushed palm fruit eventually used to make soups? I buy some West African paste used in cooking and I love it, but I have no idea what it is LOL. It’s orange in colour-like your bike.

    In all seriousness now, the idea of danger for some reason is always a lot more fascinating and exciting. And it’s not just with kids or young minds but just look at the world of entertainment. Sky diving and tubing and bungee jumping are fun activities that loads of people have done or would love to do. They all contain a certain degree of danger. I guess it’s human nature.
    While I read the last section where you narrated how you ended up wrecking your precious bicycle I could not help but think of a Swahili saying ‘ Asiyefunzwa na mamayee hufunzwa na ulimwengu.’ Meaning if one does not heed to the teachings from home (mother-as direct translation), they will have to learn from the world/ through nature. So since you did not obey your parents instructions, you learnt your lesson by getting into trouble. I was sort of looking forward to reading the aftermath upon your parents discovery-LOL, there’s a tiny little sadist in me 😉

    1. Hey Valerie,

      It’s so good to hear from you! And my goodness! I’m quite excited you love the One Week, One Proverb category. I’m not that surprised. A few of my friends on FB say this is their favourite. They go as far as teasing me, calling me the young man with the wisdom of an old man, LOL, Can you imagine? I don’t think I know it all. I’m a case of errors, I tell them. So back to you: it’s not a bad thing to have a favorite here.

      You had a BMX bike too? Wow! That’s good to know. So much for the riding and happy display, I believe.

      Here we use palm fruit to cook almost all types of soup and then stew. We use it in cooking porridge beans! Palm oil is as necessary as the water we take.

      Aha! I will take note of the wise saying of your people. Sure thing, nature steps in to teach those who refuse in spoken words, LOL. On a similar note, I want to learn more from your side with the tradition language, of course.

      And the aftermath of my action…Man! That was gross! Dad threatened to let the wound fester. The look on his face was well enough to stop the wall clock in our sitting-room. And if not for Mum, I bet he would’ve whipped me silly, compounding the pain the tugged at my senses. See, my dad is a principled man–what’s white for him should be white, alterations then simply meant punishment. On the lighter side, he’s fun to play with. I remember the first day I beat him in Scrabble. I was in Junior Secondary. That day, I beat him three times in a roll–that’s how I know he was playing to let me win.

  12. LOL
    as usual, you take me back to my childhood. On my part it wasn’t the bicycles, it was trees.
    We were often stuck on the very trees my parents warned us not to climb and then we would see the car coming and try and rush down. On one occasion. I tore my dress and the boys had a good laugh.

    My dad drove a yellow Subaru. Talk about a car standing out. We’d see it miles away from the top of the tree. I loved my childhood and your stories have a way of taking me back there.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Funmi,

      My goodness, LOL. I bet the boys had their fill. I am not a good climber–I admit it among the many things I couldn’t master that well.

      Ah! The Subaru! That’s good to know. I admit that those stand colours did work to our advantage most of the time. I’m happy this took you down ,memory lane. And above all, thanks for commenting.

    1. Ah! That’s still one my very vivid memories. It’s good to see you blogging again, Robin. I should be heading over to your blog after this.

  13. I think most scars have an anecdotal story. It’s all about testing our boundaries, some rebound us back to safety, others don’t, and for the most part usually only hurt a little in the process of learning. Will or not, it’s about testing ones mettle to make it in the bigger world, even when someone tells us different, to make our own mistakes. I wonder what stories your father might share about what he got up to as a young one. I know my father got up to a lot more than I ever did in testing his boundaries. Sorry, off topic… Sometimes I can remember when growing up, danger did not always come across as danger, at least not until the pain hit. But you’ve got me thinking about all the stories behind the different scars from over the years, how they came about, and what was I thinking at the time.

    1. Ah! My dad always says that no one is free from mistakes and heartaches. Sometimes he openly talks about his mistakes and afterward admonishes me not to do the same because it simply won’t pay. But then, it’s the curiosity that often steps in and at times is so overwhelming than reason itself. Like you rightly said, it’s the pain we experience that calls our attention to the danger. I encourage people to be adventurous, but am no advocate of a repeat of a bad result.
      Thanks for the handsome feedback, Sean.

  14. I truly believe brilliant life lessons — and the requisite scars — are the true gems in life. The rest? Just the pauses in between genuine living!!! Thanks for this wonderful share! 🙂

  15. Curiosity and courage to try new things really propel us into new territory and teach many lessons. But it’s all so relative to what we are accustomed to: some of the things I have done in my life were “necessary” to fulfill my incessant need to grow and learn, while others might see them as “courageous” or “bold” or “crazy.” What are a few scars in exchange for valuable experience, adventure, fulfillment….?! Of course, I survived to tell the tale, so that prejudices my point of view 🙂

    1. Thanks for you comment, my dear friend. This proverb goes beyond curiousity or trying something new. It resides with what has already been proven as dangerous–like touching a naked wire passing current. Definitely we both know the result if someone attempts to touch such wire. I strongly encourage people to explore. But not when an act or a place has been proven beyond reasonable doubt as dangerous.

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