... and oh so true

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The chapter which isn't written ... will never be written

August is upon us! This calls for a momentous monthly page-turning of the desktop calendar! Pa da dum ...

I bought the calendar in Stone Town, Zanzibar, in March. It wasn't so much the Javed Jafferji photography (Mzee J. is the Father of all coffee table books about Zanzibar) which called out to me, but rather the Kiswahili proverbs. One for every month of the year.

After all, I had it in my mind that the cadence of a foreign language often makes a person seem more knowledgeable. And worldly. Cultured. Well-traveled. Informed. Able to identify months and dates in a single bound.

So anyway, the thought-provoking proverb for this month (accompanied by an awesome photo of a dhow sailing into the sunset) is:

Nahodha wengi, chombo huenda mrama.
A ship with many captains does not sail properly.

The allusion seems fairly obvious, in a 'too many cooks spoil the broth' way. Though that pales in comparison to my favourite one, from April:

Nyani haoni kundule huona kundu la mwenziwe.
The ape does not see his own backside, he sees his companion's.

Indeed. And that is why I keep mine all covered up, out of sight and out of mind.

But seriously, there is much room for interpretation (and misinterpretation) of this particular proverb. My own sense of it is that it's far easier to figure out someone else's ... toosh, than one's own. Although ... that isn't necessarily the case if things unfold in the manner of Ste's phrase of doom - 'gone tits up'.

Looking ahead, I think November's is profound in its sheer simplicity:

Hakuna siri ya watu wawili. There is no secret between two people.

Now that is a winner.

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