Brothers who get along will always defeat the enemy. (English)
Abaguma bobalwa amatumu. (Mashi, DRC)
Ndugu wakisikizana vizuri wanashinda adui kila mara. (Swahili )
Les frères qui s’entendent bien ils arrivent toujours à vaincre l’ennemi. (French )
This proverb is common amongst the Mashi-speaking tribe (Shi and Nyabungu), found in the Sud-Kivu province of the South, West and North of Bukavu of the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC). The proverb is used to emphasize the importance of unity – especially, in the time of challenges.
Unlike in the Western world, where individualism is common, Africa, on the other hand, is an epitome of collectiveness. That explains the idea behind large families and community efforts and love. It is not uncommon in Africa to consider cousins and other members of the community as brothers and sister. However, membership of the family comes with responsibilities, amongst them, genuine efforts and contributions towards the progress of the family/community. For meaningful achievement to materialise, unity amongst the family occupies a central position.
Today, the world is facing a common bullish enemy, the COVID-19. The stubbornly persistent presence of the Coronavirus calls for togetherness as opposed individualism. It is a trying and demanding time when we need each other more than ever if we want to defeat the deadly virus. We cannot come out victorious against the enemy through the tough-demanding lockdown alone. Nor can we win the war with an empty begging hand or scorching stomach. The reality becomes obvious when the lockdown is suddenly turned into a lock-up both in words and deeds. Yes, with hardly any incentives to ease the lockdown pain. There are better ways brothers and sisters can unite to defeat the enemy.
The common foe can only live in the pomposity of jubilation when the community is on fire and brothers and sisters craftily turned themselves into the COVID-19 millionaires – overnight. When a family plunders and squanders mercilessly, the resources and arsenal meant for fighting against the impromptu antagonist, it is left defenceless against intruders and danger.
To win the adversary, unity, love and selflessness must reign amongst the family and community members. That calls for the realization of the common enemy, a well-defined goal and strategy amongst members of the community. But the result of the common efforts can only be visible when everyone contributes their power, expertise and shows commitment towards the goal.
That is the only language the COVID-19 understands in this precarious time. How I wish Africans understood that even the much-feared fearless Coronavirus will easily be conquered if they become their brother’s keepers.