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Site Last Update: 19 Nov, 2019
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African Proverb of the Month
September, 2002

Chigau ndi ku mupozwa. (Tonga)
Young growing cuttings determine a good harvest of cassava. (English)


Tonga ( Malawi ) Proverb

Explanation, Meaning and Everyday Use

Society should take proper care of youth as well as promote the need for young people to work hard in order to acquire the skills and knowledge employed in adult life. The Tonga people in Malawi look at the young cassava seedlings to forecast a bumper yield. The proverb is used metaphorically for today's youth who are the future nation. This proverb is cited at funerals when a young person has died. The lesson is that through such deaths the society loses future leaders. Sometimes it is used in circumstances where someone is being reproached for mistreating a young person. Also this Tonga proverb is used when reprimanding a young person for his/her lack of knowledge. The implication is that in the socialization of youth they are warned against indulging in habits that can bring them to an early death, e.g., to avoid sex outside of wedlock.

Biblical Parallels

  1. Never forget these commands that I am giving today. Teach them to your children" (see Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and Psalm 78: 5-7).
  2. The proverb can be related to Jesus' regard for children: When Jesus called the children, he said, "Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16).

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

Since children and youth are such a large percentage of the African population today this Tonga proverb has special relevance. It can challenge youth to use their talents and energy well to serve family, community, church and nation. It can be a warning against wrong and irresponsible behavior related to sex, drugs, cheating, etc. The proverb can be especially used in AIDS Education.

Rev. David Mphande
Box 673
Zomba, Malawi

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


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