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Site Last Update: 12 Nov, 2019
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African Proverb of the Month
May, 2000

Takipar bich che meloljinge ma. (Tugen)
How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves. (English)

Tugen (Kenya)

Explanation and Everyday Use

The Tugen Ethnic Group is located mainly in west central Kenya. In traditional Tugen society the elders would sit around the fire to discuss issues and to solve conflicts in order to bring peace and unity to their community. If this fire is not kindled, if there is no peace and unity, then the community is easily defeated in moments of crisis. "Kindling the fire" means people coming together and discussing issues. People who have no unity do not love or value one another. They do not "kindle the fire." Such people can easily be overcome in times of crisis.

Biblical Parallels

The Bible emphasizes the importance of unity, joint consultation and cooperation. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). A biblical parallel to this "unity is strength" theme is: "Two are better than one...A threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9,12).

Religious Use

This Tugen Proverb (and other African proverbs like it) can be used in many pastoral and social situations to help resolve disputes and conflicts between individuals and in families and communities. There is the universal saying that the only real problems are the ones we don't want to talk about.

It is estimated that of the 54 countries in Africa almost 20 countries are in a situation of civil war, internal unrest or ethnic conflict. We desperately need signs and symbols of unity, peacemaking and reconciliation. African Proverbs on peace can be effectively used in conflict resolution, mediation of disputes and other kinds of peace talks.

NOTE: This Tugen proverb is published in the book African Proverbs on Peace and War collected and compiled by Annetta Miller. Mennonite Central Committee, Nairobi, Kenya: Privately Duplicated, 1998. 41 pages. A collection of 1,031 African proverbs in English (with the original African language or country cited) on the general theme of peace and its immediate corollary, conflict. These proverbs are in the service of all people -- instructing, guiding and generally reflecting the wisdom of the continent. There are proverbs on 13 themes: peace, war, fighting and friction, quarrel, abuse, enemy, revenge, anger, caution, reconciliation, diplomacy, justice and cooperation.

Mrs. Annetta Miller
Nairobi, Kenya

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Other Proverbs From The Same Ethnic Group

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