In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,
“We are an African People
Robbed from our Homeland
Robbed of our Names
. . .”
— Excerpt from “The African Affirmation” (see here)
After sixteen weeks or two sessions of African Blood Siblings Empowerment Meetings (see here), the Brooklyn Division tried something different: We read twenty-seven (due time constraints) African Proverbs in the language of the Kôngolese, Kikôngo (Download a Printable Version here). These Ancestral proverbs affirm the righteousness of our mission.
It has long been the motto of the African Blood Siblings to seek and develop Prosperous, Independent African Communities at home and abroad (see for instance.) We have also long espoused the different Nature of Africans and non-Africans (see for example.) Yet with so much to give, even the, as of September 30th, 2013, three-hundred-and-eighteen published posts aren’t enough. This post, the three-hundred-and-nineteenth, like some others (for example this one, this one and this one) puts in black and white what a truly Prosperous, Independent African Community looks like. The Knowledge, the Wisdom, the Love is astounding. Here is a glimpse of what we as a people accomplished and what we as an Organization will accomplish. Please inject this Wisdom into your blood. And either finance or join this struggle for Prosperous, Independent African Communities at home and abroad.
Proverbs Used Within the Community About the Community
Excerpted from “African Cosmology of the Bântu-Kôngo, Tying the Spiritual Knot, Principles of Life and Living”
By Kimbwandende Kia Bunsenki Fu-Kiau, Ph.D.
Ngana zitewanga mu kânda mu diâmbu dia kânda
When the African in general, and the Kongolese [N’kôngo] in particular, uses the expression “bambuta bata ngana” or “ngana yata bambuta/kingana kiata bambuta” literally proverbs/theories said by ancestors – he refers, according to the context to a philosophical, social, dialectical, theoretical, legal or judiciary statement. In that case bambuta bata ngana may explicitly refer to one among the following explanations:
According to the unwritten law of our society
Accordingly to the law
Accordingly to the custom
According to the ancient theory
Conformity to the law
Conformity to the social patterns, norms and values
In accordance to the well known cases
Conformity to our principles
The law says
In accordance to the exigencies of the system
Let’s consult the law
Our concept of the law tells us that
Legally that means . . .
Legally speaking . . .
The law says
The law is . . . etc.
The proverb is one among the most important sources that best explain the African Mûntu and his thought. In debates, in ceremonies, in judgments, in joy as well as in misery, proverbs are frequently use to reprimand, to criticize, to compare, to segregate, to encourage, to punish, and to heal. They are used to teach, to explain and to thoroughly code and decode [kânga ye kutula].
For African people, proverbs constitute a special language. Sometimes, for many, proverbs are considered both a secret and a scared language in their communication where the expression–“talk in proverbial language” [zônzila mu bingana], an expression used within the community to prevent the leak of very fundamental principles of the society, i.e., to prevent the outsider from auditing the debate to have access to any basic systematic concepts of the structural organization of the society, especially it’s secrecies. Once I was talking to an audience of more than thirty intellectuals and a friend of mine passed me, through the audience, a written word saying. “In such spots/places, talk superficially, don’t dig at the bottom of things” [Ta mayulu-yulu mu bèndo bia mpila yâyi]. African people are very sensitive to what touches their conceptual bases.
Although African people enjoy talking in proverbial language, they also recognize that the use of this very philosophical language is dangerous, even mortal. Because of the danger presented by this language, one must understand perfectly the meaning of the proverb one uses because one kingana says “Wata ngana bângula ngana kadi Na Kimbônga-ngana wafwîla mu ngana”– literally, know the explanation of any proverb you use for sir “Proverb-teller” died upon the proverb he used. One may be condemned for what one says.
Proverbs, as a means of intellectual communication of great ideas within the community, are said and learned within the community, at a public house [ku mbôngi], in the market place, during the initiation period, during the work time, anywhere in the bush, on the street, at home as well as while running during a hunting party.
Proverbs, in African context, are laws, reflections, theories, customs, social norms and values, principles, and unwritten constitutions. They are used to justify what should be said or what has been said. Proverbs play a very important ethical role in storytelling, legends, etc. Very often parents as well as griots [n’samuni], and storytellers end their tales by very fitting proverbs.
African proverbs are numerous and diverse. They deal with people, God, ancestors, animals, forests, goods, money, ideas, wars, sun, moon, time, social problems, education, food, life, ku mpèmba (ancestor’s world) traditions (kinkulu), history (kikulu), plants, insects, etc. We give here a short list of Kôngo proverbs, related to the community, in order to show to our readers how rich these proverbs are, and perhaps they could reshape our corrupted young nations in Africa. Proverbs are laws [n’siku], principles [n’kîngu]. They define the African human rights [n’swa] as well.
It is my belief that African nations will not possibly be built upon outsider [fu] systems, as this proverb tells us “Kânda ka ditûngwanga va lwèka lwa fu kia nsi ko”–community is not built outside the social system of its inhabitants. The nation [nsi], like the community [kânda], must be built upon the national social system [fu-kia-nsi]. To build one’s own society outside of one’s own system is not only to weaken that society, but to destroy it. When a society is destroyed from its roots, one must expect all kinds of ailments that might accompany that destruction: disorganization, corruption, embezzlements, internal wars, insecurity, bankruptcy, violence, hostility against oneself, social injustice, poverty, famine, disease and death in masses.
Certain educated Africans pretend being more intelligent and more skilled than their uneducated ancestors. I don’t know. Maybe it is so, but the same intellectuals forget what one says about those uneducated ancestors: Our ancestors did not have dictionaries or encyclopedias; true, but by their experiences, proverbs, and their sincere autocritiques, they did maintain and save the national and community security [Bakulu ka bavwa dîngu ko, i ngeta; kânsi mu nkuma, ngana ye ntungasani zâu zakedika balûnda luvuvamu lwa nsi ye kânda]. Could our intellectuals pretend to maintain that our communities’ members are safe, secure, happy and well fed today? Maybe they do in their intellectual way, but I cannot say so. Besides, no generation in any society can claim superiority upon the former one. Learning and progress (civilization) are both building block processes. One does not exist without the other.
Regardless of our rejection of what we should really be, sooner or later, our nonsense intellectual realizations without our communities will be destroyed unless they are rooted on our social system [fu-kia-nsi], be they social, economical, political, philosophical, etc. The study of our languages may enable us to understand the systems, what they were, in case they were destroyed by the aggressor. Proverbs are one of the best ways that our concepts are well coded and thoroughly kept. Proverb study is a very rich and broad field that all African thought and wisdom lovers, linguists, philosophers, and all knowledge lovers should investigate. Proverbs for one main reason, in any African context, are regarded as the warehouse of the ancient African wisdom. They are very meaningful by themselves, and paramount in historical, philosophical, legal, religious and theoretical information about African schools of human knowledge. African youths and modern scholars must dig deeply for that knowledge if they wish to develop new theories about the development of modern Africa according to its realities. It is not a degradation to our young scholars if they do have some time to spend at our griots’ feet to be “fed” by the past experience [nkuma], our cultural heritage [fwa dia lusânsu lwèto].
The young African “scholars” must agree that one’s assimilated education is sometimes very meaningless within the context of African realities. Aware of this situation, it is advisable that one seeks, after one’s studies abroad, contact with village sages to learn about their opinions for “The true leaders of opinion are not always the stereotyped well-educated, professional individuals active in official or voluntary work (M. Kochen, 1976:18).”
In a small area, Maniânga, in Lower-Congo, students of Luyalungunu lwa Kûmba-nsi Institute collected more than 1,500 proverbs and proper nouns in a short time. No one could convince those young people that African people did not have logical systems as it is always charged by certain biased groups. For them, thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, etc., existed only in the West. Africa did, as it does today, have its own “masters of thought” because their ideas remain with us: proverbs, legends, tales, myths, etc., even though their names are not known because names are not very important in the African concept in the process of art creation. No one creates alone.
The proverbs below are excerpted from the unpublished Dictionary of Nouns and Proverbs Kôngo, [Dîngu kia Nkûmbu ye Ngana Zêto], collected under our direction (1964-73). This short list shows us how strong the concept of kânda (both a biological and social community) is among the Bântu people in particular and among African people in general.
The Kongolese word “kânda” has always been translated within western literature of Africa in the anthropological point of view, as “clan”, a word which has a negative connotation. This is not the way it is seen and understood by ourselves. As such, to be clear, the concept of community as it can be seen and understood in the African world does not exist in developed countries of the west. In those countries, from the African point of view, the word “community” is a meaningless word, empty of its meaning. Do you have any problem with foes, don’t you believe it, if the police do not come as soon as possible, you may be killed on the street by that group and no one from your pretended community will dare to come out of his house to save your life. Their concept of law says so: “Don’t involve yourself in somebody’s elses affairs; that is his business.” And this is the concept of law that the modern African is involved in, that is why our continent is swimming in blood.
Now let’s examine these few proverbs, i.e., Kôngo thoughts related to the concept of “kânda”, community; thoughts which are frequently repeated within the community about the community:
- Kânda mukûtu, variant Kânda mutu.
The community/society did exist before you; the community leads everything, for it is the head. What is good for the community is good for its members. Everybody is a social product. One accepts the community as it is, not as one wants it to be.
- Kânda wakândula bièla bia kânda.
The community massages its members’ organs. The community solves community problems.
- Kânda wakânda mâmbu.
The community leadership prevents problems and conflicts within the community. It is the responsibility of the community to create laws for its members.
- Vo zèyi kânda, zèyi Nzâmbi.
If you know the community you know God. God is only visible through our attitude vis-a-vis our neighbors. Our existence creates God’s existence.
- Nzâmbi mu kânda (kena).
God (exists) in the community. The natural principle of change transmits itself perpetually in us through the community continuum.
- Untèla n’kîngu miankulu (mia kânda) kidi yazâya miampa, variant Wata diampa teka ta diankulu.
Tell me the old principles/theories in order to understand the new ones. All educational process is gradual. Don’t reverse historical truth. History accumulates itself. One can only build on old materials. Natural laws are irreversible. To be born, one has to be conceived. Before laughter there is funny hearing.
- Mbôngo a kânda ka mbôngo âku ko.
The community’s goods are not your goods. Public wealth is not private wealth. Don’t put your hand upon public goods (wealth).
- Mu kânda, babo longa ye longwa.
Within the community everybody has the right to teach and to be taught. Education is a matter of reciprocity. True knowledge is acquired through sharing.
- N’kîngu mia kânda n’kîngu mia nsi.
Principles (theories) of the community are also national principles. What belongs to the community belongs to the nation. What is private to a group is public to all groups. Individual productions contribute to community wealth.
- Kânda ka ditûngwanga va lwèka lwa fu kia nsi ko.
The community, as well as the nation, is not built outside of its social system. A society is its concepts, be they political, philosophical, social or economical.
- Kânda n’landa: bankaka kwènda; bankaka kwîza,
Kânda ngongo: bankala kwènda; bakaka kwîza.
The community is a channel: people go (die), people come (are born). The community renews perpetually its members and its principles accordingly to its [fu] systems, conforming to the natural laws, that of birth and death, the theory of [makwèndamakwîza], what goes will come back, the perpetual process of change through [dingo-dingo], the constant back and forth flow of [ngolo zanzîngila] living energy.
- Kutômbi didi dia minika mia kânda vo kwena mu kânda ko.
Don’t seek for the center of social waves if you don’t belong within the community and its system. Do not force upon somebody else’s system’s door when it is not open to you. The study of a system is possible only if it opens itself.
- Dia ye nwa, walambalala; bwatûngulwa bwâla kuzèyi bo ko.
Eat, drink, and then sleep for you ignore how the village was built. Just watch and see, don’t be involved in fundamental social issues of cultural and systematic discrepancies.
- Kutômbi didi dia (ngolo za) zûnga ko kwidi zûngwa (cfrl 2).
Don’t seek to know the regional center of driving forces for fear of being confined by these forces.
- Sîmbi bia nsi (bia kânda) mu kilômbo binikukinanga.
Societal leaders move and act through masses. A true leader mingles in the crowd. A leader that stands aloof to his people is a puppet.
- Kânda diakuta Nzûndu, nkio* diawunuka, ukitèle Zûndu. Nga zèyi diswasâni diena va kati kwa Nzûndu ye Zûndu e?
The community named you Nzûndu,**, you thought it was mistaken itself; you call yourself Zûndu.*** Can you tell the existing difference between Nzûndu and Zûndu?
This proverb contains a very simple, but basic philosophical truth about proper noun meaning among the African people, the self, i.e., a) to be what one is, and b) to try to realize what the community (society) expects from you in accordance to the label (name) you bear. If the community wants you to be “Community-Anvil” [Nzûndu-a-kânda], be that community “Anvil” and don’t make yourself a “Frog-Within-The-Community” [zûndu-mu-kânda], i.e. a “Drunkard-Within-The-Community.” (For more information read our Makuku Matatu, Chapter 2).
*Nkio’, shortening of nkiôngono.
**Nzûndu; anvil–symbol of productivity within the community. Name given to a child wherein the community hopes that his birth will revive its stagnant economy.
***Zûndu; by fault of eliminating the “N” from the above name, the name becomes Zûndu (frog); for the Kôngo, Zûndu is the symbol of drunkard, but also of habitual drunkeness. In suppressing certain letters, mainly “n” and “m” from their names, many intellectuals in present Africa bear names with a vulgar meaning or simply meaningless names, as in the case of the name Zûndu.
- Nga nzènza mûntu katûnga fu kia bwâla?
Could a strange person build a favorable social system of a village that is not his own? Community members only, of a given society, are able to do what a stranger cannot do for its safety as well as for its human well-being. No one can do better for you than yourself.
- Wampâna nsèngo, kunkâmbi kwè ngâtu bwè isadila yo ko.
If you give me a hoe don’t tell me where or how I should use it. Don’t stifle my field of activities and my normal development by pretended assistance.
- Kânda diazûngulwa lusunga lwa kimfumudikânda luzîmbale.
When the community leadership looses its direction, the community is oppressed. There is only the leadership and its direction that should be blamed in any social, economic or political crisis. One spits only at the leader.
- Ka ngw’ândi ko, kânda dian’kitula kinsevanseva ye luntoyo.
It is the community that made him/her a habitual smiler and a talkative individual, not his/her mother. Community members are born simple, nice, and good, but they become what the community wants them to be/become. The human being is a social product; he is what he eats, learns, hears, sees, feels, and lives. The actual behavior of a human being is a learned behavior. Very often one’s nature is oppressed by the society.
- Kânda kându: ka kilôswa; ka kisâmbu.
The community is a taboo: never can one throw it away, and never can one worship it. No one can be otherwise than what one is. Societies, like human beings, have their own identities/personalities, be they open or hidden.
- Kânda diansânsa, kânda isânsa.
The community took care of me; I will take care of that community. Community life is a process of receiving and transmitting/passing on. [tâmbula ye tambikisa] Teach a child completely and thoroughly about what you are as a community and your teaching will go on completely and thoroughly. Life and living is a seedling process.
- Kiasôla kânda ko; kânda diansôla.
I did not choose my community (society/race); it is the community that chose me by giving birth to me/by bringing me where I am. The community has responsibilities to me as I have responsibilities vis-a-vis to it. Discrimination is a disease.
- Kânda diasâla nsâng’a n’kènto ka ditûmbukanga ko.
As long as there is a female “shoot” within the community, it cannot be annihilated. The presence of a female in a community is the symbol of continuity of life in that community, and on the contrary, her absence is the symbol of its end. The feminine is life (God) in and around us.
- Kânda diamôyo dîmbu yèmba.
The common and public house is the symbol of an alive community. The yèmba/boko is the point of centralization and decentralization of forces as well as of activities within the community. Its animation is a sign of vitality within the community. Well seated institutions are key to social, economical, political, and philosophical stability of nations; they are, not only nations’ hearts, but also their brains.
- Kânda nkasa ye nome/niosi.
The community is at the same time poison and honey. The community is very sticky to its members. It is hard, even hostile to live within, but it is however the best place to “stick on” [nama], i.e., to live and to belong to.
- Kânda i (mbûndani a) bafwa ye bamôyo.
The community is the union of the ancestors and of the living people. The community is an accumulation of the living unity of the physical and spiritual elements.
- Mu kânda ka mwena nzaku (za n’toto) ko.
There are no boundaries of land within the community land. The freedom of land use by all community members is warranted within the community. There is no privacy on land issues; its ownership is public for no one came in this world with a piece of land in his/her hand. Therefore it cannot be sold, bought or alienated.
- Wasînga kânda ukisîngidi.
If you curse the community you curse yourself. It is uneasy for one to blame or condemn one’s community. Avoid the attack of the community against you.
- Wakatuka mu n’kîngu mia fu kia kânda kitukidi mapeka ye wûngani.
If you do leave the principles of the community system, you become an errant and a deviant. The loss of one’s own rights of belonging to a community (society/nation) is maybe more harmful than an imprisonment for life.
- Kânda diafûka nza yifûkidi.
If the concept of community is annihilated/destroyed, the world is destroyed. If principles, concepts, norms and values that make world communities alive are violated, weakened or completely destroyed, the human being will easily destroy his world.
- Yimbu mu kânda sînsu kia mfwîlu a kânda.
The poison within the community is a symptom of community/social destruction. Deadly weapons in man’s community not only are a symbol of the disorganization of the society which possess them, but more importantly they are a symptom of its own destruction, and of the approaching end of man’s world.
- Dièla dia kânda m’bikudi.
The wisdom of the community prophesizes. The community sees farther than an individual can. Anyone who learns to see through the community’s eyes (wisdom) is a very bright person.
- Kala n’lôngi a kânda mbo’ wazâya mayenda mu kânda.
Be a community teacher/leader in order to know what goes on within the community. The real wisdom of a society and its very basic needs are only known by those who mingle with the reality of people’s daily lives in that society.
- Kânda kabelanga nzènza ko.
The community is not hostile to a stranger. The community welcomes all human beings as long as they do not dare to interfere with its basic social practices/principles.
- Kubungi kûmu kia kânda mu kinzènza kiâku ko.
Do not try to destroy the reputation of the community/society while wearing, somewhere else, the label of “being a stranger.” Your misconduct, elsewhere, has direct or indirect impact on your community/society as well as on yourself.
- Mvita makânda mawûbi ulèndanga zo.
The quarrels (wars) between communities/societies are solved by diplomatic encounters. The diplomacy [kimawûbi] is the leading key to peace.
- Ku kânda dia mbadio mpaka (ntantani) ze’ ko; nga ziswèmi mu dia diâku zazèyi?
There are lots of conflicts within the “So’s” community; do you realize how many there are within yours? Tend to your affairs and let others preoccupy themselves with theirs. Try to learn thoroughly what is going on in your own society before probing other societies.
- Lumbu-ki bisikânda, mbazi bakulu ba kânda, variant Lumbu-ki lesi bia kânda, mbazi bakulu mu kânda.
Today we are community members; tomorrow we will be the ancestors of the community. What we do and think today prepares us for what will be the community’s assessment tomorrow. If we are today, simple individuals within the community, we may tomorrow be deified (spiritualized), i.e. be considered as the source of driving forces and radiations within the living commuity, and this is accordance with our attitude vis-a-vis to that community during our physical lifetime [ku nseke]. Any seed can give life to a big tree.
- Mu kânda kikânda, bukânda, kinkwèzi, kimwânambuta, kisikânda, kikûndi, kinzâyani. Ka mwena kimpala ko.
Within the community there are all alliances: community righteousness, marriage alliances, affiliation, friendship, relationship; there is no antagonism. It is pleasant to live within a community, for in the community, in the African concept, indeed your pain and pleasure are shared, your joys are doubled, even tripled. The community, your community as well as my community, is your place of joy, love and life.
- Mwîsi wa mbôngi a kânda wubote ke lusekeseke lwa nim’a lônde ko.
Better the smoke from the community’s public house than warmth from beyond our boundaries. Social conflicts within the community are less harmful than an exile.
- Kânda diakôndwa n’toto, bilesi bilaukidi/bimwângane.
If the community lacks the land, the door for survival, its members will disperse. The community land, its availability to all members, is the symbol of security and of togetherness within the community. A community leader as well as a national one must know that community/national land is the first property of the society that should be protected, even at the price of blood. A leader that sells or alienates the land of the community/society is a murderer, because he prevents the community/society from having access to its first source of all possibilities for survival.
- Dûnga mu kânda ka (biena) kinkuma ko.
Events within the community are not a rarity. Human community always has problems to confront. Life within the community is a perpetual debate. To be a community member is to be ready to confront problems.
- N’samu mia kânda miale’ bulungi, variant N’samu mia kânda ka mivwîdi bulungi ko: mia ndo ka ndo.
Community issues (affairs) do not have anniversaries; they happen anytime. Anything at anytime may happen within the community. With regard to anniversaries, they belong to seasons, plants, and to living beings. Any community member as well as any community leader must be aware about the “kôndwakwa-bulungi” principle in community affairs.
- Wazangisa Kimvwâma zîmbisi n’swa ye niènzi mu kânda.
In worshipping one’s own wealth one looses rights and social enjoyment of his/her community. Mûntu, the human being, is fundamentally a social being and, as such, his assumed private rights are very meaningless before the social and collective rights. A shared wealth procures more internal happiness.
- Makani ma kânda, mwâna mu ntûnda; ka matewanga nkûmbu ko.
Community plans/projects, are an infant in their mother’s womb, they are without name. Social driving forces, their sources, are fundamentally unknown. If the name of your plan/project explicitly tells you what you want to do, don’t tell it to your enemy, and the best way to keep it secret is to knot it = code it [kânga yo kolo].
- Kolo diakânga ngânga, kutula ngânga, variant Kolo diakanga mwisikânda, mwisikânda kutula dio or Kolo diakânga mwisikânda, kutula mwisikânda.
A code (knot) from a specialist should be decoded by a specialist (of the system = kimpa, fu). What is fundamentally systematic can only be easily understood within the system. Our present knowledge in ways of coding and decoding cultural codes of alien cultures is the cornerstone in human antagonism in the world today.
- Mfumu-dikânda n’tu a mbwa watôndila makome.
The community leader is a dog’s head; everybody knocks upon it. One only spits at the leader. A true leader is an object of critics.
- Kwena sîmbi kia kânda, kwena didi dia kânda.
Where there is the community djinn (leadership), there is the center of the community. Societies like people have their hearts.
- Kisikânda, vo ka butukila ko (mu) bukwângi.
If not by birth, one becomes a member of the community by refuge (adoption/exile). All means are available to integrate a society.
- Kânda, kându kia kânda ye nsi.
The community is a taboo for the community and for the nation. National pride is made by men of deeds, members of national communities. There are not two different laws in one nation: one for the poor and the other for the rich or one for the village and another for the city.
- Bându dia kânda nsâng’a mûntu ye n’toto.
The initial community capital (bându, from bânda, to start) is its human resources and the land. Life would be impossible within the community without land and without valid people in it. The community must pay a particular attention to its youth as well as to its land, the fundamental capitals of a society.
- Mbôngi nkat’a kânda ye nsi.
The public house of the community is the seating of the community as well as of the nation. Community unity finds its foundation from “boko”, the public house/institution. Societies as well as people, have their roll of life; these rolls, nzingu/nkata, are rolled and unrolled within social and public institutions.
- Mbûngi a kânda va kati kwa nsi ye yulu.
The center (cavity) of the community is located between the above and below world. The reality of the cultural heritage of a community, i.e., its knowledge, is the experience of that deepest knowledge found between the spiritualized ancestors and the physically living thinkers within the community.
Africa was invaded in all its regions by travellers, missionaries, newsmen, pilots, peacemakers, apartheid-minded-individuals, and today, by “bought-men”, the mercenaries, with the main goal, in accordance to what one tells us, to understand and to civilize its people. The mission of civilization having “accomplished” her “noble” mission, which was a total failure, African people were still known as people without logic, people without systems, people without concepts, the primitive people, unlawful societies, etc. And one may ask what is wrong with social science scholars and their academic world? How long should we continue to lie? Proverbs related to the community, and our comments on them prove the contrary of what has always been said and taught about African people. They tell us how lawful, philosophical, systematic and practical African people were in their own world. Should not one be astonished by African wisdom, should one undertake a more or less complete study of that African wisdom hidden in proverbs, the old way of theorizing among people of oral literature? One must understand that a proverb, for African people and those with a basically oral literature, is not seen and understood in the way the western world sees and understands it. For us, because of the lack of material to write on in the past, proverbs are principles, theories, warehouses of knowledge, booklets, taped information, and, above all, they have “force de loi”, force of law, in judiciary circumstances. A court without proverbs (translated here as judiciary referential legal documents) belongs to the dead [Mbasi-a-n’kanu yakôndwa bingana ya bafwa], says an unwritten Kôngo constitutional legal passage/proverb.