Proverb of the Week: The hunger that has hope for its satisfaction does not kill.

Kata Kata

Admin | Posted On : 15-09-2022


Agụọ nwere nchekwube/olịleanya a dịghị egbu egbu. (Igbo, Nigeria)
Njaa ambayo ina matumaini ya kuridhirisha, haiuwi, (Swahili)
La faim qui a l’espoir de sa satisfaction ne tue pas.
The hunger that has hope for its satisfaction does not kill. (English)

The Igbo tribe, which occupies the Southeastern part of Nigeria, is known for their hard work, endurance and persistence, especially in the face of impediments and other social deterrents. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the above proverb is shared amongst the Igbos who use the saying to inculcate the spirit of hope and endurance amongst themselves.

Traditionally, the Igbos are farmers, with the farming season (the period the seedlings had been planted and the crops from the previous harvest consumed) lasting between about five to seven months, exposing the people to hunger. The proverb becomes central in encouraging hope and endurance until the next harvest when food will be in abundance; therefore, it teaches that no condition is impossible to bear with determination and hope for a brighter future.

But having hope and endurance implies working hard, without which there might be no positive and tangible results. From a religious perspective, hope without hard work is death; not even God or a shepherd can provide for the sheep that desert the pasture. Heaven helps those that help themselves. 

From our present-day situation in Africa and globally, we are confronted daily by enormous challenging – and sometimes precarious – situations. Think of unemployment, hunger, war, epidemic, illnesses, and family conflicts. Our survival from those social malaise has much to do with our attitude towards them. Without hope, endurance and determination, we can hardly overcome difficulties. However, if we believe that no condition is permanent and confront the obstacles based on that mindset, rather than being lazy, we are on the right path to survival.

Often human beings prefer a quick solution to their problems, but a house built on a shallow foundation hardly lasts long or withstands turbulence. Biblically, many years ago, Pontius Pilate asked the crowds who gathered in his palace whom he should release between Jesus and Barabbas, the thief; the people shouted: “Barabbas, the thief.” Today, two thousand years later, we are still chasing Barabbas and in love with the thieves in the form of our leaders, who have mercilessly stolen our future. Worse, we still accommodate, worship and re-elect these shrewd leaders and religious marauders rather than taking our destiny into our hands.

Aren’t we building without any foundation? Such a reckless decision comes at the detriment of the uncertainty of the future, resulting from choosing an artificial solution over surgical therapy for the problems. In a situation where we prefer a get-rich approach to issues rather than a work-hard mentality, we face an existential threat. However, if we genuinely believe in future and what it holds for us, the best attitude becomes hope, endurance and hard work. Hence the hunger that has hope for its satisfaction does not kill.

Photo: Oxfam  (