• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Site Last Update: 12 Nov, 2019
E-mail Print PDF
African Proverb of the Month
August, 2000

Pein dan kan jo ya, di voorika an tua
If an arrow has not entered deeply, then its removal is not hard.

Buli (Ghana )

Explanation and Everyday Use

The Builsa people mainly live in the Upper East region of Ghana, West Africa and speak the Buli language. Since they are largely subsistence farmers, their very being depends on their knowledge of different soil types and the use of good seed. The "Parable of the Sower and the Seed" that Jesus gave us in Luke 8:4-15 is a wonderful story that captures the attention of the Builsa people since the context is very similar to the Builsa culture. The above Buli proverb on the arrow helps provide a rich understanding of the rocky soil that Jesus described. This soil represents "...the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for awhile, but in the time of testing they fall away" (verse 13). Traditionally the Builsa used arrows with metal tips to hunt game as well as to defend themselves from enemies, slave-raiders, etc. The arrow has a barbed shaft much like a fishhook. If the arrow enters deeply then the barbed tip makes it difficult to remove. The enemy or game is more likely to be crippled and easily brought down. On the other hand, an arrow that does not enter deeply can be easily removed resulting in an ineffective shot. The enemy or game may easily slip away and escape.

Other Biblical Parallels

This theme is illustrated by the call to discipleship in Luke 9:59-60 and Mark 1:19-20. In both cases Jesus speaks to men who are called to leave their fathers. In one case the words of Jesus enter deeply resulting in two disciples who later became some of the closest friends of the Lord and one even contributes to the writing of the New Testament. In the other case the Word of God is not allowed to enter deeply into the heart and culture of the man resulting in the missed opportunity to become a disciple of the Messiah. In Luke 9:59-60 the man replies that he must first bury his father. In Builsa culture to properly perform the funeral of a father is a major event. The family of the deceased will often delay the performance of the funeral for several years until they have made adequate preparations. In addition the funeral will involve sacrifices to the ancestors and other cultural practices that may conflict with the Word of God. A Builsa person may delay following Jesus until after he has gathered the resources needed and performed the sacrifices at the funeral. The man in Luke 9 may be saying a similar thing. Instead of allowing the Word of God to direct how he will participate in the funeral he will delay following Jesus until after the funeral. During that period of delay his faith has gone nowhere. Since the word did not enter deeply it's removal was easy. This is contrasted in Mark 1:19-20 where Jesus calls James and John. Like the man in Luke 9 they are called to leave their father and build the kingdom of God. The words of Jesus enter deeply and they immediately follow Him. Their lives are forever changed. The results are astounding as we reflect on the life of the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). Since the word entered deeply it could not be removed.

Religious Use

In the same way as the Buli Proverb above the Word of God is meant to enter deep into the heart in order to be effective. Once it enters deeply then life transformation results. God's Word can redeem, affirm or correct every culture, but it must first be allowed to enter deep into the heart of the believers and into the soil of that culture. If the Word of God does not enter deeply, then the purpose for which it was intended is not accomplished. The target then slips away and escapes the blessings that God intended. The warning is clear: If God's Word does not enter deeply then it will be easy to remove during the battle of trials, temptations and persecution. Make sure that God's Word penetrates your heart and culture so that nothing will be able to remove it.

For further information see the article "Analyzing Builsa Proverbs and Culture in the Light of Scripture" by Jay Moon. It is summarized on the " What's New" Page.

Jay Moon
SIM Ghana
Fumbisi, Ghana

Jay Moon< This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >


Book of Interest

How to order :