Martin Bennett


If you never offer your uncle palmwine, you'll not learn many proverbs, prompts a Ghanaian saying. The advice seems to have been well-heeded. Whether painted across the fronts of speeding mammy-wagons or issuing from the mouth of a roadside mechanic or a paramount chief, proverbs throughout West Africa are in plentiful supply. Naming ceremonies, marriages, funerals; conversations in urban beer-parlours or by the palm-winetapper's fire; traditional folk-tales, some modem West African novels, highlife lyrics: These are just a few possible sources. Sierra Leoneans say: Proverbs are the daughters of experience. Or to put it another way. When the occasion comes, the proverb comes (Oji, Ghana).



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