Proverb of the Week

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Adiye nje oka, o mu omi, o gbe okuta pe pe pe mi, sibe sibe o ni ohun o ni eyin, to o ba ni eyin, se o ma je irin ni?
– Yoruba and Idanre (Nigeria)

A chicken eats corn, drinks water and swallows little pebbles, but still complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth would she eat steel? (English)    


This African proverb is very common amongst the Yoruba tribe in the South-Western part of Nigeria. It is usually used to advise individuals to always accept life as it is and equally try to make the best of it. In every situation one finds themselves, there is a need for one to accept and adjust to the situation rather than complaining and sulking.

On the other hand, the proverb is used to encourage and remind individuals that while accepting life, they are equally good and strong enough to tackle the situations they find themselves in; they can accomplish what they set out to achieve, as well as, if they work hard. Despite setbacks, life is full of unlimited opportunities; one only has to work hard without being discouraged by setbacks in life.

What does this tell us about Africa? Political Independence in Africa came with hopes and optimism amongst many Africans. Unfortunately, the pyramidal aspirations were shattered by the dictatorial rules of many African leaders, which consigned government accountability to the dustbin of history. Individuals are left to their fate. The need to shake off the socio-political liabilities heaped upon individuals by their corrupt leaders in Africa becomes a necessity rather than dwelling on and complaining about individuals` bad situation.

In our present African situation, if you believe that nothing positive will come out in life and give up life easily, things might be terribly critical for you. Life is what one makes it. If we accept defeat and give up quickly, one`s life becomes irrelevant and useless; but if one stands up to the challenges in life, they are most likely to achieve success.

Likewise, accepting bad governance from our corrupt leaders rather than challenging these leaders to account for their stewardship, will only encourage other new leaders to follow the selfish unproductive path of our present leaders. As a human being, you deserve better.

Remember: Life is what you make it; we are the architects of our own destiny. Giving up easily is definitely not the best path to one`s rightful greatness.