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A foot has no nose

Of the many interactions I had with my mother those many years ago, one stands out with clarity. I remember the occasion when mother sent me to the main road, about twenty yards away from the homestead, to invite a passing group of seasonal work-seekers home for a meal. She instructed me to take a container along and collect dry cow dung for making a fire. I was then to prepare the meal for the group of work-seekers.

The thought of making an open fire outside at midday, cooking in a large three-legged pot in that intense heat, was sufficient to upset even an angel. I did not manage to conceal my feelings from my mother and, after serving the group, she called me to the veranda where she usually sat to attend to her sewing and knitting.

Looking straight into my eyes, she said “Tsholofelo, why did you sulk when I requested you to prepare a meal for those poor destitute people?” Despite my attempt to deny her allegation, and using the heat of the fire and the sun as an excuse for my alleged behaviour, mother, giving me a firm look, said “”Lonao ga lo na nko” – “A foot has no nose”. It means: you cannot detect what trouble may lie ahead of you.

Had I denied this group of people a meal, it may have happened that, in my travels some time in the future, I found myself at the mercy of those very individuals. As if that was not enough to shame me, mother continued: “Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongwe”. The literal meaning: “A person is a person because of another person”.

Source: “African Wisdom” by Ellen K. Kuzwayo

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