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October, 2012

Ilmenqafeland’ufte, ad’aleindibdyufileind’ibdu. (Borana)

Mototo tayari kuzaliwa anapokuja kwa njia inayo faa, hu saidia mamaye na yeye binafsi. (Swahili)

Un travail bienfait, récompensera l’employeur et son employé. (French)

Work done in the right way rewards both the employer and the employee. (English)

                                                                                                    Borana (Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia) Proverb

Background, Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use

            According to Francis Omondi and Orville Boyd Jetkins, where we have collected most of our information, the Borana who are a part of a much larger group of the Oromo, left the southern Islands of Ethiopia in the 1500s. They are mainly found in Ethiopia but some also live in Kenya and can be estimated at 4million in these two countries.

            Those on the Kenya side of the border live in a large area of barren northern Kenya. About 44% of the Kenya borana live in Marsabit District, into Tana River District, Garissa District and in Moyale District. The heaviest concentration lives in the Sololo area of Marsabit District and in Moyale District. Those in Isiolo District are concentrated in Merti and Garba Tula. Since the early 1990s many Borana have lived in Nairobi. They maintain contacts with their home area.

            The Borana language is spoken by many people by now but it is mainly adopted by the Gabra and Sakuye who originated from the roots of the Somali and Rendille peoples. The economy of the Borana people are organized around cattle, though the formerly taboo camels are becoming more important, and they now herd sheep and goat. Herding is done by the young men while the women do the family nurturing.


Biblical Parallels

            The bible in the book of Ephesians talks about the good works that we are created to do and this can be associated with the work of procreation of children. In most African traditions, a newborn child is considered a gift from and this call for joy and celebration. Ephesians 2:10 ‘‘ For we are God’s handwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’’

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

            The Borana wisdom sends a message to the modern mothers and the society at large that children are a precious gift from God. This means that they should have joy and celebrate when a child is born since procreation is part of God’s good work that they are expected to carry on. Children are a sign of joy and celebration in African society. Children are also seen as a result of hard work since a mother keeps it in the womb for nine months and this is not an easy task thus when she delivers, everybody rejoices.


Nairobi, Kenya

Cellphone: +254-735-547823

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Photograph selected by:


Cephas Yao Agbemenu


Department of Art & Design

Kenyatta University

P.O Box 43844

Nairobi, Kenya

Cellphone: +254-723-307-992

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