Posted by: jacobgillard | May 28, 2011

Akishuba kikyera kwonka amazima gakitangayo

Ya gotta love idioms. They reveal so much about a people and culture. The Banyankore people of Western Uganda speak Runyankore—it’s not the language that I’m learning but I do work with many Runyankore speakers. They have a saying that goes, “Akishuba kikyera kwonka amazima gakitangayo.”

A wooden translation is, “A lie can go very early but the truth—it can first sit there.”

Please allow me to share two cultural factors that flavor the idiom before I give you a better translation.

The first cultural factor has to do with visitation. Visiting friends face-to-face is very important in this part of the world—we have email and mobile phones but they are expensive and imperfect for deep sharing. Visitors are welcome at all hours but it’s worth thinking about the timing of a visit. Just like in America, you are wise to be wary of anyone who is too eager to share. It is usually the gossip who rushes from house to house as soon as they have the tiniest morsel to share—hence the part about going very early.

The second cultural factor is related to visitation and that is the matter of hospitality—how you treat a visitor, or guest. A good host will pull out all the stops and lavish many honors on the guest such as the best plate, cup, food, chair, etc. (Incidentally, a good visitor will do well to graciously accept the honors bestowed on them!) So when our idiom speaks about sitting, you can imagine the lie showing up and desiring the place of honor but finding a truly worthy guest already seated. Awkward. (c.f. Luke 14:7-11)

Now, back to our idiom. An amplified translation is, “The lie gets up very early in the morning only to find the truth already seated in the chair and he tries to sit and the truth says, ‘Don’t sit on me!'”

While researching this post I found a quote attributed to Edgar J. Mohn which unpacks the same idea: A lie has speed, but truth has endurance.

A natural extension of this idiom is a grandmother or grandfather teaching good morals to a youngster, saying, “Don’t lie because the truth will come out in the end.”

Thanks for reading and please pray for all who contend for the truth on a daily basis—including myself.

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