Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not judging the meagre mule

When fly bother meagre mule nobody see; but when the mule kick, everybody say him bad. (Jamaica)

My dear grandniece,

I knew the events in Jamaica of May 23 and after had an effect, but I didn’t think it would be such as to silence this blog for two months. I made attempts to write blog entries, and seemed to find no words I chose to publish. Perhaps I wanted to be hopeful in this space, but could not see my way these months. I am not sure what makes the difference today, but I think I am deciding that silence is not the way to go, no matter what.

On May 23, there was a kickback in Jamaica that took us on the edge of a cliff. It seemed for a moment that criminal gangs were truly in charge. Police stations were under attack, two police stations were set on fire, and security persons were being fired at and killed. Chaos.

So the government took strong steps – the strongest action a government can take – to control the conflict. The Governor-General declared a State of Emergency. This means that everyone in the country loses their rights while the security forces makes the country secure. As a result of this action, Jamaica quieted down in a few days.

The country felt relieved, especially as the State of Emergency created a breathing space that we had not had in years. People were being locked up, and wrongdoers seemed to be on the run. Most importantly, the security forces seemed to be in charge of the situation.

So the mule kick, and everyone say him bad, but were there flies bothering the meagre mule that nobody see? It is important to take action and serious action, Zayda, when a crisis occurs. Equally important, we need to see what caused the crisis. If we don’t address the cause, the incident is likely to occur again. We could cuss the meagre mule all we want when it kicks, but it will kick again if we don’t get rid of the flies that bring about the bad or the criminal behaviour. And if we tie mule’s legs together, he won’t be able to kick, so we will have solved the problem – up to a point. However, if the flies continue to bother the mule, we better be sure we tie the mule so it can never move again. The flies will make the mule more and more angry, and not being able to kick will make the mule more and more frustrated. So no one will want to be around if ever the mule gets a chance to kick again.

At present, most people in Jamaica feel so relieved to have been spared this kickback, that I think they wouldn’t mind getting rid of the mule altogether. Except that, in reality, we are talking about human beings who can talk and say what is wrong and what was the build up to what happened on May 23. Perhaps people need to be calmer to get to the point of listening to each other even if they don’t like each other, and even if some would want others to be permanently locked up or else removed from society.

Zayda, perhaps these messages can help. Maybe those who are fat can see that those who are meagre have reasons to kick. Maybe we will get around to seeing and listening. Maybe we will get around to removing the reasons for anger strong enough for some to kill and destroy. Maybe we will manage to deal with our own anger.

So I am back on the blog. With hope.


Your Shangazi

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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.

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