Igbo proverbs made easy

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By MICHEAL J.C ECHERUO

I must commend our author, Loolo Florence Chinyere Duru, for her deep interest in the Igbo language and its proverbs. Proverbs are the wisdom of a people in a nutshell.

Complex stories and situations are concentrated in a few words and phrases which capture and retain the essential meaning of the experiences from which they derive. As the author points out, we cannot fully or properly understand these proverbs if we are not schooled in the traditional life and thought of the Igbo people who invent and use them.

To understand Igbo proverbs, and enjoy their power and beauty, therefore, we have to know the language and the cultural context in which these proverbs are used. This Compendium not only lists the proverbs, but tries to convey their general meaning in English, both literally and idiomatically.

The author also reminds us that the Igbo language has several “dialects.” As a result, many of us may not immediately understand the meaning of proverbs owing to the perhaps strange dialect of words therein contained. I believe—indeed I know—that languages are made richer by the wealth of dialectal variation which they can demonstrate. As we become more acquainted with these dialects, we begin to appreciate our total inheritance as Igbo language speakers. Inevitably some words and phrases in these dialects will fall by the wayside; but many—very many—will become part of our language-world.

A Compendium of Igbo proverbs in their original dialect is, therefore, very much to be appreciated: We thereby come across new words, become aware of new local customs and habits, and perhaps appreciate the complications which entered our language when the various Christian denominations confronted the three Igbo dialect words, enyi, iko, and oyi, for example.

This book lists nearly 600 proverbs and idioms grouped under eight sections: Human, Weather/Elements, Plants, Mad Person, Marriage, Death/Dead, Animal, and General. My earnest plea is for the author to expand some of these sections with more instances.

In this regard, I will urge readers of this book to encourage this pioneering effort by submitting additional examples of Igbo proverbs to the author.

Loolo  Florence Chinyere Duru has acquitted her responsibility most admirably as a wise Igbo mother should. I go further to urge her to consider publishing a companion audio version of these Igbo proverbs and their meanings in English, for the benefit of many would-be users, young and old, who have not acquired the facility of reading Igbo well, especially when other dialects are involved.This Compendium is a work of pure love for her native Igbo language and culture for which our author deserves our congratulations and our generous patronage”.

Beautifully produced with a remarkable, indeed unique, embossed Nsibidi- themed cover design, and laced with illustrations, the publishers must be commended for an aesthetically  alluring, error-free package that will enhance the attraction to this invaluable compendium as a collector’s item.

Statesmen, leaders, citizens, scholars and institutions must add this compendium to their libraries, if they wish to be considered authoritative and up to date on the traditions of one of the world’s most vibrant, vivacious, visionary, inimitable and enterprising people – Nd’ Igbo. Ndewo.

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