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Site Last Update: 24 Jan, 2020

April, 2015 A soft tree is never broken by wind. Haya (Tanzania) Proverb

  Omuti ogwinamile tiguhendwa muyaga. (Haya)
Mwanzi hauvunjwi na upepo. (Swahili)
Un arbre flexible ne se casse jamais avec le vent. (French)
A soft tree is never broken by wind. (English)

Haya (Tanzania) Proverb

Background, Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use

Discipline is necessary in any educational institution if youth are to benefit from the opportunity offered to them. This Haya Proverb is mostly used for education formation of character. For example, when youth seek employment or begin a new life: e.g. marriage, religious vocation, etc. Humility is the key of success in human relationships. A soft tree is never broken by wind. People need to be handled with care, gentleness and politeness. Also when things appear to be difficult, Bend yourself. The humble woman/man is always well received by the community.


Here is a story: Once upon a time there was two boys who went to a factory seeking for a job. The manager wanted to try their behavior. He told them, “Listen to me carefully. Every morning before you enter the factory, you have to open that kennel and greet my dog. Say ‘good morning Tikyeba.’ Take him around and then bring him in. Then come back to the factory and you will be given the work. This is to be done daily. OK!”


One boy answered, “Sir, this is ridiculous! To greet the dog! Not me.” The other boy thought twice, “Yes sir I will do” The boy was given the job. Surprisingly he never greeted the dog Tikyeba. It was only a test. There is a saying in Kagera Region in Tanzania: “What does it matter to greet the king’s dog and get a job? Bend yourself.” Think before you say NO or YES!

Biblical Parallels
Humility is the nature of God. The Word became a human being and full of grace and truth lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only son. St. Paul to the Philippians 2:6-11 points out the nature of God: “Christ always had the nature of God but he didn’t not think by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being, and appeared in his likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death on the cross. For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


That is how God raised his son because of HUMILITY (He is doing this to us also). He didn’t think that by force he should try to remain equal with God, although He is God. The story of two boys seeking employment in the factory is the real picture of the human fallen nature. We must make efforts to do well and that was only possible after the restoration of extreme humility of God himself, dying for us on the cross.

God came in the world: “THE WORD BECAME MAN AND DWELT AMONG US.” Humble himself, God himself became the son of a carpenter, “What good can come from Nazareth? He cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub! That is how they recognized Jesus. He carried our sins to free us from our fallen nature to make us again children of God. All these was fulfilled through bending down. To get the job, the boys had to greet the dog which in African culture is a taboo. To gain the glory of Heaven everybody has to “greet.” Unless you become humble like a child you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. A soft tree is never broken by wind.

In Mark 6:1-3 Jesus gives us another example of his humility, when He was rejected by his own people. “Jesus left that place and went to his hometown, followed by his disciples, he began to teach them in the synagogue. Many people were there, and when they heard him they were all amazed. Where did he get all this? they asked. What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? Isn’t he the son of a carpenter! The son of Mary and the brother of James and John, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here? And so they rejected him. God is rejected by his creatures. He bent himself. He kept silent. What did his disciples do when he was not received? In Luke 9:53-54 we read: “But the people there would not receive him because was clear that he was on the way to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from Heaven to destroy them? Jesus turned and rebuked them?”


For the one who is least among you all is the greatest (Luke 9:46-48).

God is always helping the humble who trust in him. Let me end my sharing with the song of the mother of God who is a teacher of humility:

“He had shown the strength of his arm
He has scattered the proud in their concert
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up lowly (Luke 1: 51-52)

Let us take time to view the human race and the world at large. How do we act? What do we see?


Contemporary Use and Religious Application
Families, SCCs, our places of work and our daily relationships with others should be fields of showing humility. Mchawi wa amani ni kiburi. Once our Father of the Nation of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere said, “If we start discriminating among ourselves Wazanzibari and Watanganyika (which is now Tanzania) you will end separating within yourselves.” Is this, what is happening around us? Brothers fighting among themselves because of owning the land, cattle, sea and rivers! Everyone wants to be the best, to be Bwana Mkubwa, queen or king! There is no softness – the world is broken into pieces. It is broken by “Wind Pride.”

Enmity, diversity, human trafficking, fighting and all chaos are happening because of lacking the spirit of God which is humility and meekness, the virtues most important in life. It is a call for our politicians and all big figures in different organizations to acquire the humility and “bend” to listen for the benefit of all the people of God under them. Are we asking for fire to destroy? Are we peacemakers? Mwanzi hauvunjwi na upepo. First love, be humble, then perform your job. So the soft tree is never broken by wind.


Sister Rita K. Ishengoma, STH
St. Theresa of the Child Jesus
P.O. Box 315
Bukoba, Tanzania
Cellphone: 075-5551735
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Cephas Yao Agbemenu 
Department of Art and Design
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844
Nairobi, Kenya
Cellphone: 254-723-307992
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it