o Nkore nkiyok natua norubare lkiye, naa nkore nkiyok naiichu nerubare nkichoni. (Samburu)
o Sikio lisilosikia hufuatwa na mauti na sikio linalosikia hufuatwa na baraka. (Swahili)
o A deaf ear is followed by death and an ear that listens is followed by blessings. (English)
Samburu (Kenya) Proverb
Background, Explanation and Everyday Use
The Samburu people are mainly pastoralists who live in the Samburu District and on the south and east shores of Lake Baringo, Baringo District, Rift Valley Province in Kenya. This Samburu proverb was used by elders to educate their youth against disobedience, especially the Morans (the youth) who can only be counseled by a counsel of elders. Also during peace meetings between communities where a disagreement had occurred, the council of elders will call a meeting between elders from both communities to try to look for the way forward in resolving the conflict. In the process of trying to persuade the other group or the youth to listen to them and settle the disagreement, elders used this proverb to warn those who do not listen that a listening ear is followed by blessing and a deaf ear is followed by death. This is an allegory that means that those who humble themselves and follow advice from elders will achieve fruitful results but those who don’t will be followed by wrath.
The proverb is commonly used during such times of conflicts among individuals and communities to warn stubborn figures that their resistance against values and norms of the community is dangerous. The community values humbleness as a tool to good living and peaceful co-existence between communities and a tool to understand each other.
The proverb goes hand-in-hand with another Samburu proverb layieni-lai enchaaki enkiyok (in Swahili mwanangu nipe sikio lako) that means my child give me your ear (or listen to me). Both proverbs ask for patience and obedience to the elderly against unwanted acts by youths, like going to raid other communities especially to steal cattle. This will only bring loss of property, displacement, hunger and death in the community. A good historical example occurred when the Samburu were attacked by the Laikipia, a sub group of the Maasai community. Elders used this proverb in vain and during the fight 90% of the youth (Morans) in both communities were killed leading to many years of struggle to recover the loss. To date the Laikipia are very few and some are already absorbed in the Samburu community.