Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our debt to the wheel

Creation: Spring & Easter
The noise of the wheel don't measure the load in the cart. (Belize)

Whoever invented the wheel deserves to be the world’s most famous person. He or she was a potter who lived in Mespotamia (today’s Iraq) almost six thousand years ago.

Scientists have found remains of very early pots in China, North Africa, and South America. If people could store water, they were less dependent on living next to water sources. If they could store food, their surplus grain could last them through the winter or in times of famine.

These early pots were handmade, and probably fired in bonfires or in holes dug in the ground.

The wheel brought about a revolution in pottery. Specialist potters could now “mass produce” pots to meet the needs of the worlds first cities, such as Ur in Mesopotamia.

Only later was the wheel used for transportation. The ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians had wheeled chariots.

The wheel made possible inventions such as the clock and the astrolabe sailors use for navigation.

Ultimately, the wheel helped to bring about the Industrial Revolution, with steam engines, railroads, factories, and later airplanes and automobiles.

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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at