Put a few hundred teenage girls together in an institute of learning, and there are bound to be some comedic moments. One was how in Yoruba class, a key topic of Yoruba Proverbs would be tested on exams in the format ‘Complete these Proverbs: Adie funfun _____________; Ajo kii dun_______________; Eni ba reti atisun akan_____________________…’ After the exams, we’d gather and look through the questions and share the answers we’d written. The creativity on show was always something to behold.
Today, after having a satisfactory tapa-portion of a homemade dinner of rice with pulled pork, I commented that ‘Enough is as good as a feast.’ Yes, the ‘Complete these Proverbs’ format followed us into English class as well. So I, being a bit of an over-achiever in my high school days, know a lot of English proverbs. Not so much the Yoruba ones, though I still have a lot memorized, and I own this book, bought in a fit of emigre nostalgia some dozen plus years ago.
So there you have it. I generally don’t like proverbs because people (boomers? Nigerian boomers? Ok, I’ll stop now) use them to sound erudite, and because a lot of them trumpet some outdated wisdom. An eye for an eye, for instance, what kind of crap is that? Unless you’re quoting the modern-day sage Coretta Scott King, who said ‘the old adage of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’ Or ‘A pound of flesh…’ are we all vampires now? In fact, wth, Shakespeare? Yet there are people who still tout this drivel and hope to sound wise in doing so. However, I like Enough is as good as a feast because 1) it reminds me of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a book I savored when I first started visiting Paris and being a general Francophile (I no longer am; I just like lots of cultures now); 2) It’s kind of gently suggesting how to live simply, not berating you or aggressively warning you like A stitch in time saves nine or Penny wise; pound foolish or one of those scary sayings. For the minimalist I try to be in how I eat, and my relationship with consumption and the Earth, I think it sums things up pretty well. 3) It’s good to see a word that has acquired an almost negative connotation (I’ve had enough; barely enough; enough already…) be elevated to levels that suggest abundance. For many of us getting used to a wild new world of quantitative tightening, higher interest rates, possible recessions, and definite inflation, HODLing to such a gently sanguine proverb could be just the guide we need throughout these unpredictable swingin’ 20’s.