Wisdom of the people


I am among the tens of thousands gathered here on this ground to listen to the authorities speak. Yeah, there is a lot of talk in whispers too. There is also talk in metaphors and figurative speech.

Yeah, the second in command of the land speaks in riddles too. I wonder what this snake riddle that we are cautioned not to tame in the house means. After all did we not share one similar folktale on this very column about Nansato the Python? Did we not share another one about Galu wa Chizungu which the hunter tamed and ended up eating him? Search me.



I have more than once gone back in time and space. Yeah, countryfolks, we have shared a lot of folklore and the wisdom of our ancestors. At times we do memorise inspirational folktales and songs. We have chants, riddles and proverbs too many to mention around us.

The ancient wisdom of our people still lingers. We may have acquired more technology, science, economic empowerment, religion, education, democracy and many more but the truth is that we have a heritage. We have all the wisdom to guide us. We have all the wisdom to protect us. We have all the wisdom of our ancestors before us and no one can take this away from us. We the people. We the povo. Ironically those in authority also know some of this wisdom.

Once upon a time, we were told that it is not for African Kings to shout. It is for African kings to speak in whispers. Yeah, countryfolks and when the Kings speak in riddles it is even more complicated.


JC Chakanza

Associate Professor Joseph Chaphadzika Chakanza published a collection of 2000 Chinyanja proverbs as a contribution to the preservation and promotion of Chinyanja culture. Yeah countryfoks, Chinyanja or Chichewa is becoming the undisputed lingua franca in Central Africa. Chakanza emphasises in his collection.

Wisdom of the people as a collection of 2000 Chinyanja proverbs stands out as the most comprehensive collection ever published.

I know of several Chinyanja proverbs collections but none comes closer to this masterpiece.

I am reading this Kachere book number 13. Yeah, I do like the references too. The Kachere series is of course an initiative of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Malawi.

I know the author is currently at the Bishop’s House in Chikwawa after retiring from more than 20 years of service at the University of Malawi and Catholic University.

I wonder what he is writing now. Maybe another masterpiece of the wisdom of the Mang’anja of Lower Shire valley.

Chakanza challenges us in this collection. I wonder what some of us are doing in view of just collecting cultural and historic material. Yeah, countryfolks, this is the heritage of the people.


There are different schools of thought about cultural preservation not only in the country but all over the world. There are some who would like to preserve their heritage through publishing. There are some who still insist on oral tradition.

I beg to encourage our people to publish. Yeah, countryfolks, let’s document our heritage. Let’s preserve our heritage by all means necessary.


The present scenario is that the politician is speaking in riddles. Who will decipher the meaning of the snake that we do not need to tame in the house? Who will tell us the meaning of Mbawala riddle too? What about the riddle of the python that ended up eating the woman?

As the women are ululating and dancing to this new dance of freedom, I am pondering on the meaning of the riddles coming from the corridors of power at this gathering.

Njoka saweta nyumba!

Aluta continua…

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