Guest Post: Adebimpe Adegbite On Snakes and Unity


Hello, folks, you are welcome to the blog this Monday evening. Our guest post for today is contributed by Adebimpe Adegbite, a sociolinguist with a degree in English Language and Literary Studies yet who has developed an interest in learning, teaching, and promotion of the Yoruba language.  In this short but pithy post, Adebimpe shares his thoughts on a popular Yoruba proverb on snakes and unity and gives us an insight into how much we can learn from the sayings of the Yoruba. Read, enjoy and realize that the “words of our fathers are indeed words of wisdom.”

Àì kó ọ̀wọ́ rìn ọmọ ejò ló ń ṣe ikú pa wọ́n; bí ọká bá ń lọ ní iwájú tí sèbé ń tẹ̀le, tí paramọ́lẹ̀ ń bọ̀ lẹ́yìn, baba tani yóò dúró?

*It is the absence of en masse movement amidst snakes that results in their individual death; if the cobra leads, closely followed by the python with the mamba coming behind, no human would dare wait (to confront them).*

The proverb reveals the importance of unity using the lifestyle of snakes. It connects the ability of people to confront and kill snakes to the fact that each of the snakes prefers to move alone. It presumes a situation when the entire snake species move in a convoy, citing three of the most dangerous snake species, there would be no one bold enough to confront them. Not only would their various individual deadly tactics contribute to keeping them safe, their numerical strength would also aid their fight against any opposing force.

The message in the proverb is the need to be able to pull resources together to achieve a common goal. Many times a person sets out to achieve something without possessing all resources needed to achieve such task; the amazing thing, though, is that there is at least a person out there who has some resources such person does not have but needs, and who wants to achieve the same goal. In most cases, an individual’s pride prevents them from asking for help or entering into an agreement with the person who has what they need; they would prefer to do and achieve everything alone so they can take all the credit.

Most times, such people never really achieve what they set out for and they eventually settle for something less. The proverb, however, presents a solution to underperformance or working with the risk of failure by advising on unity. Success is better guaranteed when a team is involved as there are more ideas as to how best to do a thing and when to do it. This ensures a win-all situation for everyone that is part of the team; all, with greater ease than when pursued individually, achieve their goal.

*Two heads are better than one; never be too proud to team up for good.*

Adebimpe Adegbite is a Yoruba Language Teaching Assistant at Florida Memorial University, Florida, USA. His current project, One Thousand Yoruba Proverbs Simplified can be found here.

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