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African Proverb of the Month
April, 2001

Kachenche kubantu kwabo dikonbo. (Songe)
"Kachenche" (très petit oiseau) est négligeable à l'étranger, mais trés important chez lui. (French)
"Kachenche" (very small bird) is insignificant among strangers, but very important at home. (English)
"Kachenche" (ndege mdogo sana) mdogo ugenini, mkubwa kwao. (Swahili)

Songe (Democratic Republic of the Congo - DRC) Proverb

Explanation

The Songe language is spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) mainly in the Kabinda Zone and eastward into the Kongolo and Kabalo Zones of Shaba Region as well as in Western Kalebwe and the Kasai Oriental Region between the Sankuru and Lualaba rivers. In this proverb the "Kachenche," a type of very small bird, is despised by other birds because of is small size. But in his or her own home the bird is given proper respect and much praise.

There is a true story of two people (a priest and a catechist) who went to a hospital to greet the sick. At the front gate the catechist was let in because his appearance was pleasing - tall and heavy-set. But the priest was refused entry because of his poor appearance and short stature. The guard judged on external appearances only.

The Wasonge people use this proverb to stress the importance of welcoming all people. What are important are not external appearances, but what is inside or the real part of a person: intelligence, wisdom, goodness and fine living. Also this proverb is used every time a person despises another person, especially a person he or she doesn't know.


Biblical Parallels

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37). There are various examples where the prophets, the messengers of God in the Old Testament, were not recognized.

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (John 1:11-12). The people in Nazareth judged Jesus Christ on external appearances and considered him an ordinary carpenter. They did not recognize him as the Son of God. Even today we do not recognize Christ present in other people. We do not understand the meaning of Jesus' words. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters that you do unto me" (Matthew 25:45).


Religious Use and Application

Jesus Christ was scorned and distained by certain people because they did not really know who he was. They saw only his humanity without recognizing his divinity. But God does not look at the appearance of a person, rather his or her spirit and inner qualities. If we are all children of God then we should resemble him. Similarly if "God is love," by being children of God we should be recognized by our love for others. When we see a person it is necessary to welcome him or her and love him or her as a brother or sister in Jesus Christ.


Rev. Edward Makimba Milambo
Kongolo Diocese
B.P. 274
Kongolo (Katanga Province)
Rép. Dém. Congo

or

Rev. Edward Makimba Milambo
Kongolo Diocese
c/o Procure de Mission
Roikapelstraat, 20
B - 3052, Blanden, Belgium
 

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