This proverb, which might sound ironic and contradictory to many, is typical of the Tuaregs, a nomadic tribe predominantly found in the central and western Sahara and along the middle of Niger, stretching from Tombouctou to Nigeria. This tribe is present in Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Amongst the Tuaregs, interpersonal and close relationships are very important, hence the importance of this proverb, which teaches the value of friendship and the need to appreciate the advice from friends – no matter how unpleasant and painful it might be.
It is believed amongst the Tuaregs, that someone who is your friend has your best interests at heart, hence one should listen to the advice of a friend, regardless how unpleasant or painful such a piece of advice might be. On the other hand, the proverb discourages one from succumbing to the advice of an enemy, no matter how good such a bit of advice might sound, because one’s enemy generally doesn’t wish one good. Generally, your enemies don’t like your progress, as such, they will try to discourage you to succeed. They would like us to make mistakes. In most cases, the advice of a friend might look unpleasant, but it might help one avoid unseen traps and pit holes in the future. However, your enemy might give you a piece of advice that sounds good, but later, such could lead you to unseen danger and misfortune. Hence the proverb discourages one to follow the deceptive advice or plans of enemies. Thus, you could rightly say the advice or words of your friends could make you cry, although they are well meant, however, the kisses of your enemies could make you laugh, in the end, they might hurt you profusely and probably lead to your destruction.
How does this proverb fit our present situation in Africa and beyond? Very much indeed. You need to look round and first determine who your friends and enemies really are. Think very well. Yes, think without emotions or sentiments. Are your friends those who brainwash you to hate or discriminate against others simply because they have a different skin colour, gender, religion, race or race? Are those your “friends” trying to use you to achieve their sinister aims? Are you proud of your “friends” who encourage you to kill innocent people in the name of religion or race? What of those who send you on a suicide mission, yet they have refused to wear the suicide belt themselves and show you how it works? Are your friends, your so-called leaders and mentors who discourage you from sending your children to school, while theirs have the best quality education in the most prestigious universities? Are those who make you believe you are born to remain poor and serve them, your real friends? What of those who want you to believe that your conditions and perhaps, destiny cannot be altered or changed by you through hard work, education and making the right decisions in life? Have you thought about those who encourage you to believe that education is “evil” and unnecessary?
At the end of the day, the choice (and friends) you have made today could radically change your life – for good or bad – in the future. Definitely, those who really care for your future and have you in their hearts will never intentionally lead you astray. They will give you good advice, take the right steps towards helping you reach your goals. Of course, it could be that the way towards your goal could be full of obstacles. Do not be discouraged; nothing good comes easily. Yes, you could cry on the road to your goal, but the end justifies the struggle and obstacles. On the other hand, following the advice of your enemies leads, in most cases, to annihilation. Of course, the road might look smooth at the beginning, but in the end, the damage to yourself and others might be irreparable. Definitely, the word of a friend makes you cry; the word of an enemy makes you laugh.
More African proverbs: