Ita Alu Igala (Proverbs)
Chief Musa Adegbe at September 20th, 2013
Ita literally means proverbs, phrase or group of words with peculiar or special meanings different from the usual meaning of each of the words used in the expression. Igala proverbs, like any other proverbs globally are accumulated wisdom of the ancients that are usually dished out beautifully during conversations, to beautifully support an argument or emphasize a particular point in the course of speech making or bookwork. Linguistically, there are series of proverbs for every facet of human endeavor In Igala culture. Igala proverbs are politely started in this way during the course of speech or argument:-
AM’IBOGIJO CH’AKPITA KA KINII
Meaning: The elders in their own wisdom say that: this is followed by the proverb e.g.
A B’EKPOHIMINI KIYA DABU
Meaning: How can you reshape people’s destiny.
A CH’AWOHI A GBENYO AWOHI N
Meaning: Old habits die-hard.
AJA-ODUDU ONWU OPA A TA
Meaning: Make hey while the sun shines
Note: there is a need for logical application of proverbs in order to ensure that the shade of meaning or the real lesson contained in it is properly conveyed and clearly understood.
It is quite interesting to note that no significant progress or endeavour in the life of man is actually easy as the saying goes:
AKANYA DUGBO KU MA J’INGO,
Which means no gain without pain. I am however greatly motivated by another wise saying that says:
ANYAJA A KEDO OFU N
meaning despair has no meaning where there is faith.
The work of rendering popular Igala proverbs into English language is not an easy task because of the dissimilarities in both languages. For instance, in Igala language, the essence of the proverbs is to guide man and educate him morally and philosophically not the non-living things and animals whose names usually feature prominently in the proverbs. Amazingly, the lessons or massages of such proverbs are meant for man and not animals; that is the main reason why proverbs are usually translated wholly with fixed meanings. Usually a verb or word in a proverb mainly depends on another verb or word for its contextual meaning, consequently giving lexical or distinctive meaning to a proverb. This is because proverbs are imaginative expressions such as idioms and wise sayings that are considered as Ita with their unique definitions. On the other side, literal translation usually negates its linguistic excellence and philosophical relevance. Take a look at he following proverbs for example
A BIOMA A KWU
Literally, it means mothers cannot escape death, but the real meaning is mothers too are humans that need food for their own survival. This proverb evolved out of a situation where a child was always crying for food to the detriment of the mother, and the child was told that his mother was a human being who equally needed food for her survival.
ACHICHI A NY’AJA ARE N
Superficially, it means flies don’t trade in glue, but the actual meaning is human beings should not commit suicide or engage in activities that can lead to their death.
ADU A DOLA-NWU ADU
This means, a slave calls himself a slave, but it is really difficult for a slave to call himself a slave. This classical proverb has to do with one’s behavior or character, that is why it is usually translated as ‘pretty is as pretty does’ which means you should judge people by the way they behave, not by their appearance.
Similarly, some proverbs have more than one meaning while a couple of other proverbs have similar meanings, though, in most cases, each of them has a shade of meaning peculiar or unique to itself. E.g.;
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