Friday, 11 July 2008

Interruption of the Radio Silence with Old Wise Words

I was recently excitedly reacquainted with a book I had when I was in primary school aged 10: Swahili Sayings from Zanzibar by S.S. Farsi. I’ve always been intrigued by the use of methali (the Swahili word for proverbs) as well as metaphors as they add flavour to speech. They stir up the creative mind, reminiscent of pidgin or sheng, whose words or phrases, when traced back to the root, usually reveal a rather clever deduction.

In the bilingual preface, Farsi acknowledges the need for recording of customs and traditions before they are forgotten.

Proverbs are very useful for inculcating moral lessons…They are indeed disappearing very quickly. Until recently, children were not allowed out-of-doors after sunset…For the period between sunset and bedtime they sat indoors and enjoyed listening to the old women who told them riddles and fairy stories. These stories always had a moral and educational purpose.

As I flipped through this small but significant treasure, a methali caught my eye:

Kimya kingi kina mshindo mkuu.
A long silence is followed by a mighty noise.

Coincidence or prophetic?
We shall soon find out.

No comments: