Kasem Proverbs

February 29, 2016 by 4 Comments

I’m now going through Kasem language notes made long ago on 3×5 index slips. These are providing words and expressions to add to the Kasem dictionary. Here are some proverbs I don’t remember seeing before and an explanation of their meaning. Do we have equivalent proverbs in English?

Ba ba kwei nabeinnu ba ma dole naao.

They don’t throw cow-dung at a cow.

The point of this is that it is not acceptable to make a gift to someone of something they already have in abundance. Taking coals to Newcastle?

Nɔɔno bá wane o faŋe o gaale o tete lunluŋu.

No-one can jump further than their own shadow.

There are limits to human endeavour. This is something like: You can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Nɔɔno ba zwɛ kandwa o ke o men-dona wone.

No-one takes a handful of stones and puts them in his millet snack.

You don’t deliberately do something which will harm your own interests. It takes a lot of patient work to remove stones from rice, for example, so you wouldn’t knowingly reverse the process. Any English equivalent?

4 Replies to “Kasem Proverbs”

  1. Sue Arthur says:

    Maybe the idea of ‘throwing a spanner in the works’ is a bit like the idea of putting stones in your own millet sack (I first read it as ‘sack’ – is it sack or snack?)

    1. Philip Hewer says:

      Hi Sue–It is actually “snack” not “sack”: men-dona is literally “chewing millet” i.e. millet that you munch as a snack.

  2. Baloreagye says:

    Men-dona means new or freshly harvested millet.

    1. Philip Hewer says:

      Many thanks for your comment. So is men-dona in the proverb “new millet” rather than “chewing millet”? I am now settled back in the UK, so I am a bit out of touch. It’s good to know this blog is still attracting interest.

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