Asi deka melea todzo o. Ewe (Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, and Togo)
Mkono moja huwezi kushika nyati. (Swahili)
Une seule main ne peut pas attraper un buffle. (French)
One hand does not catch a buffalo. (English)
This typical African proverb is popular amongst different tribes in West Africa, mostly from Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, and Togo. It teaches the importance of collectiveness as opposed to individualism. To solve a problem, community efforts are encouraged while individual endeavour is often considered futile and selfish. Buffalo is considered a very strong and dangerous animal; therefore, killing a buffalo, requires a collective community effort. It is indeed dangerous for a single individual to try to kill the animal.
Seeing from another perspective, rendering help and sharing of others` problems is central in Africa, while the concept of individualism is seriously viewed with contempt on the continent. The simple reason for African “communism“ is found in two African proverbs “All fingers are not equal“ and “When the right-hand washes the left hand, the left hand equally washes the right hand.“ In our various neighbourhoods, villages, families, we have poor individuals who cannot afford to send their kids to school. There are those who find it increasingly difficult to put food on their tables. Families are suffering because they are victims of drought or other natural calamities. These people definitely do not like their miserable and precarious conditions. Nor do they deserve their predicaments. Must we allow these affected individuals suffer and bear their crosses alone? No! They need our collective help. If in a family, for example, those who have more are able to help others who have less, the help rendered will ironically elevate stress, problems, burdens, and expectations from the rich family members. Not the other way round. Those who are less opportune would be made financially independent and therefore they can stand on their own feet and equally help others under them.
Globally, the west can smartly work together for their own selfish ends, through international organisations, many policies, and agreements, amongst them trade, communication, labour, migration etc. More often than none, these agreements and policies favour the West, while the third world countries are at the receiving end. Unless these affected third world countries come together and present a common front and goal, they will remain under the choking oppressive yoke of the West.
This proverb equally makes meaning on the national level. It takes individuals to build a state. To achieve much, we need to work together, not as a single entity, but as a group or a unit of individuals. We need many hands to create or make a tangible impact. Remember: One tree does not make a forest.
You have the choice and opportunity to alleviate national problems. You have the chance to change your lives. It starts with your choice of leaders. Do you vote for a corrupt and an incompetent leader, simply because you are bought over? What of those bags of rice, sugar, salt, money given to you to make you vote for a visibly unfit leader? Would you rather “eat“ today, but forget your future? What of the future and opportunity for your children? The right decision we made today could change our lives forever.
There is simply no strength in isolated efforts. We can only achieve much if we could join our talents, strengths, ideas etc together. Africa is full of fastidious incompetent leaders, whom many Africans detest and are fed up with. Of course, the only language these greedy leaders understand is mass opposition. Clearly, not individual challenge, which can be absolutely dangerous and futile. Until Africans come together and present a common front against their enemies, they will remain segregated to the dark room of inequality, joblessness, poverty and other socio-political and economic disintegration.
Time to wake up and shout: Asi deka melea todzo o !