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Site Last Update: 12 Nov, 2019
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African Proverb of the Month
August, 2003

Ugendelage uludodi ulukafu luladenyeha. (Bena)
Tembelea mti mbichi mkavu utavunjika. (Swahili)
Walk on a fresh tree, the dry one will break. (English)

Bena ( Tanzania ) Proverb


The Bena Ethnic Group in Tanzania uses this proverb in its daily life. It teaches us to give thanks for whatever we received. The Bena people have a culture of sharing, cooperation, and helping each other. This saying is an example of their cultural values. It gives us hope in our lives to stay strong and focus as a fresh tree and not as a dry one. It is advice to us to be aware of our choices, to try to choose what is going to be the best for us and not for the choices that are going to destroy us.

Biblical Parallels


The main character in the Bible is Jesus. We see him saying "Father, thank you for revealing these thingsā€¦.." Thanksgiving was common in the time of Jesus. A good example of give thanks in the Bible is the story of the ten victims of leprosy (skin disease) "Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and thanked him" (Luke 17:15).

Contemporary Use and Religious Application

Many religions have a supplication of thanksgiving. All religious have their own kind of thanksgiving: Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc. For example:

Christians: Contributions during the Offering at Mass are a common thing in churches. Every Sunday people give thanksgiving for the whole week to their God. Yearly contributions are also common. Many Christians give an amount of money, crops, animals or gifts to a leader of the church (bishop, priest, etc).

Muslims: Many Muslims fast in order to repent to their God. They give gifts, money and crops to the Sheik or Imam to help their poor and needy people. This is thanksgiving to their God. Generous persons helps needy persons. The helped person gives thanksgiving. This is to say: "May they live a longer life."

This Tanzanian proverb is a way to say thank you to God or for a person who did a good thing to you when you were in need. It is like wishing a person a long life: to live as fresh tree and not like a dry one that is easy to break.

Joseph Mujule
Minot, North Dakota, USA

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


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