Proverb of the week: Cows are born with ears; later they grow horns.

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Ngora inlingino nanine; ndobagi nalobehe ngoba. (Nuba-Tira, Sudan)

Cows are born with ears; later they grow horns. (English)

Generally, Children are expected to be taken care of when they are young, while they are, on the other hand, required to listen to their parents and elders from whom the children learn their life experience. Life is a mysterious journey, full of uncharted and fortuitous dangers.

The Nuba-Tira group in Sudan uses this proverb to encourage children not to scorn the advice and wisdom of older ones, simply because the children see themselves as grownups, who do not need the guidance of the elders. In most cases, such negligence leads to gratuitous miseries.

Amongst the Nuba-Tira community, this proverb is very important in the time of danger, for example, during a crisis such as war, sicknesses, famine, drought and other natural disasters.

Consultation of the experienced elders and parents and listening to their advice could a key to better decision making, as it minimizes mistakes in the hands of the inexperienced young ones.  

How does this proverb play out in the African political and social situation? In many ways. Most of the tasks facing Africa as a continent arises out of refusal by the leaders to listen to the useful advice of the experienced elders. Rather than seeking genuine advice from the right quarters, African leaders would rather prefer to surround themselves with rapacious sycophants – most of them from their tribes or religions – who do not only believe they know better than the experienced elders, the predatory advisers often see themselves as having grown horns. With the new horns, the leaders, in most cases, believe they do not need the advice or guidance of the wise. The result is very obvious as one looks at the colossal challenges facing Africa today.

That is not all. When desperate African leaders need power, they come obediently and submissively to the masses. These leaders need the support and vote of the masses to catapult them to the position of power and influence. What happens after the leaders have climbed to the apex of power? In most cases, the leaders grow horns. That horns give the leaders the impetus to believe they do not need the help, advice or assistance of the masses anymore. The leaders often forget to put their ears into good use.

We see the result of our leaders growing horns in poverty, lack of social security, good health care, schools and other poor or non-existing basic social services in Africa. No condition is permanent. Cows are born with ears; however, growing horns later in life must not discourage the cow not to make good use of its ears. Otherwise, the horns would end up bringing more miseries to the cow, rather than making life meaningful for the animal.

Are African leaders born with ears and they later grow horns? If yes, what do they do with their ears and horns?

Photo: moon-child-net