Annang Proverbs and Wisdom
For this post, I went way back home to the Annang tribe of hot-tempered warriors with an affinity to settle disputes with machetes rather than hold a peace conference, but over the years, cooler heads have prevailed. They are also known as incredible story-tellers and often end their sentences with proverbs and wise sayings for both pizzazz and emphasis.
Here are brief historical facts and some sage advice from this ancient tribe, starting with the traditional greeting – Annang, mma! Iya!
A Brief History of the Annang People
The Annangs have a rich oral tradition. History reports that they have their origins in Jewish tribes from Egypt and settled in Ghana before arriving in the Coastal Southeastern Nigeria and Southwestern Cameroon in Africa. The Annang people and their Ibibio and Efik brothers and sisters live in Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State.
From ancient Egypt and through various wars and conquests, the Annang tribe was pushed south into the Sahara Desert. They moved across the desert, and some settled in the Upper West African region about 7500 BC. Remnants of their language according to Waddell can be found among the Egyptians. (Waddell, 1893) Another evidence of their Jewish/Egyptian origin is in their eight-day calendar, circumcision, burial customs and veneration of the dead.
Annang people value the ability to communicate, and the oratory skill using proverbs is revered, especially among the leaders. The American anthropologist, Peter Farb, stated that the name “Annang” among this group means ‘they who speak well.’ A person who has the gift of eloquent speech is often complimented as Akwo Annang.
The Annangs are known for the power of their charms, expertise in trading, and their renown art. My town – Ikot Ekpene is called “The Raffia City,” and their creativity is displayed in the marketplace through intricate handmade crafts like mats, baskets, gourd stands, bags, masks, hats, etc. This extends to mural paintings, wooden masks, cement sculptures, markets, ceremonies and exceptional food. Living in America, I miss their famous edikaikong and abak soup, made with a variety of fresh vegetable, dried fish, and jumbo crayfish!
Prof. E U Ette has a fascinating book on Annang Heritage but here are some examples of proverbs that the Annang are famous for with applications for the more complex proverbs:
Unam andiyem idang me ekpe, ase akong udok expo
Translation: The animal who wants to mate with the lion, must die for love.
Awo isikoppo ikor akunne ntak afon
Translation: No one listens to or takes the advice of someone dressed in tattered clothes.
Ese gwo-gwoob inua ekod atop ntan
Translation: A delicate biting technique is needed when chewing palm fruits covered with sand.
Application: Be open to new ways of doing things. Be sensitive and flexible in different life situations. With wisdom, apply appropriate actions and responses to circumstances and different situations in life.
Ama aborko uruk-ikot, adibabak uduk
Translation: An encounter with a snake, results in fear of ropes.
Application: People are often stuck in very painful experiences from their past.There Confronting issues that we would rather avoid or suppress in our subconscious brings cleansing and freedom. The Bible reminds us the “The truth sets us free.” Don’t let the shackles of the past keep you bound and make you miss out on life.
Idiok ewa ase akpoi inuen ke anyong
Translation: It is the bad dog that barks at the flying bird
Application: This is about the efficient use of natural talent, time and making the right choices. In his book, Ette E.U. explained that, during the slave trade in the 18th century, village raids were common and watchmen stood with dogs at borders, to alert villagers of approaching raiders. A good dog barked to alert and warn people, but the bad dog backed at harmless things, like birds in the sky.
Se ebot akut adop uyo, akpon akan s’unen akut aso nkpoo
Translation: What the goat sees and patiently endures in silence is often mightier than what the chicken sees and squeals loudly about.
Application: Goats show us the wisdom of silence. The chicken never seems to have a moment of silence and retrospect. They are continually clucking and screaming. Silence sustains our spirit within. Take time to be quiet, especially when chaos and troubles abound. You’ll be amazed at the rising of quiet revelation.
Itie usoro ama awawak, iwuo ase akponge utere
Translation: When there are multiple festivals or parties, the vulture gets a headache.
Application: Lovers, simplify your life and be faithful. Be concerned with the principal issues of life and avoid overcrowding and over-extending your life with stuff and activities.
Let me know if you think these ancient Annang proverbs are still relevant today in a modern world. Enjoy this video of a modern Ibom dance group 🙂
PS: I have no affiliation with them, but I love that these young women are embracing the culture!
Prompt: Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.
Oral tradition has passed down information about our history from generation to the next, and I also have to acknowledge these listed sources as well.
2. Farb, P (1974) Word Play: What Happens when People Talk. New York. Alfred Knopf Publishers ISBN 0-679-73408-2
3. Waddell, H.M. (1893) Thirty-Nine Years in West Africa and the West Indies. London. Frank Cass Ltd.
4. Ette, E. U. (2007) Annang Heritage Preservation Available http://www.annangheritage.org.
5. Excerpts from http://www.bukisa.com/articles/170306_the-history-and-significance-of-the-god-abassi#ixzz1s9taIeLd
6. www.wikipedia.org and Liddell, H.G.; Scott, R.. “Adamas”. A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Project.