Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ndovu wawili wakisongana, ziumiazo ni nyika!

“Ndovu wawili wakisongana, ziumiazo ni nyika. (When elephants jostle, what gets hurt is the grass)”

Not what I expected to come out of the Reserve Bank Governor’s mouth this week.

Alan Bollard used the old Swahili proverb to illustrate how small our economy’s boat is, tossed in the oceans of world currency fluctuation.  Metaphorically. We have to sit on our hands while the Fed prints notes and China refuses to devalue.  Again metaphorically.  Now he could have said,

“Maji ya moto hayachomi nyumba. (Swahili)
Hot water does not burn down the house. (English)”

Traditionally this Swahili proverb has been used to deny the effectiveness of the strenuous efforts of a lesser person against a greater or stronger one.

That would silence the people asking for the Reserve Bank to intervene.  Or at least confuse them long enough until the scenario stabilizes.

So, are we stuck up a wadi with no mitumbi (Swahili for log canoe, with outrigger)?

Not according to Big Chief Bollard as he says farmers are receiving record high commodity prices, helping to offset the pain of a high currency. So quietly quietly catchee monkey or as we say at our dinner table.

“Heri pazia kuliko bendera.
Better a curtain hanging motionless than a flag blowing in the wind.”

So, is the outbreak of the bacteria PSA (not the union) amongst the kiwifruit vines of New Zealand even more of a worry with 1.4 billion dollars of commodity exports now blowing in the wind?

“Nimeumwa na mbung'o. (Swahili)
I have been bitten by a tsetse fly. (English)”

Which means I’ve been bitten by a tsetse fly and it’s not pleasant.

So what do I think of Dr Bollard’s do nothing advice

Usimtukane kiongozi wa uwindaji jua halijatua. (Swahili)
Do not insult the hunting guide before the sun has set. (English)

Swahili safaris normally walk all day in burning sun and fraying tempers at the guide who has brought no game to your rifle. But don’t forget that at twilight just when it is getting dark, antelope and other animals will come out into the open to graze. If so, you, the hunter shoots the wild game and we all go home happy. The proverb emphasizes the importance of being patient and holding back your anger until the very end. One should hope in and trust any kind of guide, mentor or advisor until the day is completely over.


Or, if that doesn’t work for you, how bout some English proverbs like

“A peacock who sits on his tail is just another turkey”.

Or, “You can lead a fool to wisdom, but you can't make him think.”

And ultimately

“Man who scratches ass should not bite fingernails.”

And finally the elephant in the room

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