HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHH HH H EEEE TTTTT     Humanities
HHHHHH    H  H H E      T       OnLine
HHHHHH    H H  H EEE    T       Web Site
HHHHHH    H HH H E      T       
HHHHHH    H HH H EEEE   T       H-AFRICA

Proverb: It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child


>>> Item number 1090, dated 96/01/25 11:57:41 -- ALL

Date:         Thu, 25 Jan 1996 11:57:41 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Query: It Takes a Village

Date:           Wed, 24 Jan 1996
From:           Bob LaRue
                <larue@bvsd.k12.co.us>

Can someone on the list identify, with citations, the source of the quote,"It takes a whole village to raise a child?" Thanks. (Hillary does not count as a source!)

>>> Item number 1098, dated 96/01/26 08:19:52 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:19:52 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Thu, 25 Jan 1996
From:           Misty Bastian
                <M_Bastian@ACAD.FANDM.EDU>

I keep hearing that this is a "traditional" African proverb, although I can say that it doesn't seem to be an Igbo one (that I know of). However, I would not be surprised to hear that some African group says something like this. Anyone else?

Best,
Misty Bastian

>>> Item number 1099, dated 96/01/26 08:22:19 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:22:19 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Thu, 25 Jan 1996
From:           David Ericson
                <ericson@vt.edu>

It is a common phrase. I don't have the books in front of me, but I will try to find it. I believe Chinua Achebe uses it in *Things Fall Apart* (Heinemann African Writer's Series, 1958). Will respond with more specifics if I find them.

David Ericson
Virginia Tech

>>> Item number 1100, dated 96/01/26 08:28:17 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:28:17 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village (fwd)

Date:           Thu, 25 Jan 1996
From:           Christopher P Koch <ckoch@emory.edu>

I was very surprized yesterday when I saw Hillary's book.

'It Takes a Village' by Jane Cowen-Fletcher (Scholastic Inc., New York) is the 1995 winner of the African Studies Association Trull Foundation Childerns Book Award in the Elementary Category.

It is a wonderful book about raising childern in an African village.

>>> Item number 1102, dated 96/01/26 08:51:37 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:51:37 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Thu, 25 Jan 1996
From:           Prema Qadir
                <premaq@ilhawaii.net>

Dear Bob,

My sentiments exactly! All I know is that it is an ancient African Proverb that is being used to the point of cliche.

>>> Item number 1103, dated 96/01/26 08:55:26 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:55:26 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Thu, 25 Jan 1996
From:           anwauwa@grog.ric.edu

Bob LaRue:

You are wrong to think that Hillary should not count as a source of the citation: "It take a whole village to raise a child". Granted that it is a common African proverb, but it is Hillary who has now popularized the adage among Americans, academics included. Furthermore, Hillary has visited Africa and might have got the quote from some women she interacted with. Bob's inquiry should have been whether anybody knows where Hillary got the quote.

Apollos Nwauwa
Rhode Island College

>>> Item number 1105, dated 96/01/26 11:22:24 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 11:22:24 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 1996
From:           Gretchen Walsh
                <gwalsh@acs.bu.edu>

We kicked this question around a bit on the listserv for Africana librarians. I have forwarded it to the manager of that list to see if he can pull the postings out of the archive. As I recall, the conclusion was that no one could find an exact citation for the proverb. It's a phrase that has really caught on, I've had several queries in the past year or so, as have most of my librarian colleagues. It's the title of the book that won the ASA Children's book award last year (not Hillary's work), the name of a day care center as well as a private alternative school in the Boston area, etc. etc.

But no citations that I know of.

Gretchen Walsh
African Studies Library
Boston University

>>> Item number 1106, dated 96/01/26 11:35:10 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 11:35:10 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Editor's Note:

I am sending this offering through in
whole cloth. I do hope that H-Africa,
or Hercule Poirot, can solve the puzzle of the proverb. If you need the whole
thing again, it may be found on our
web-site.

HGM


Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 1996
From:           Gretchen Walsh
                <gwalsh@acs.bu.edu>

This is the FAQ on "It takes a village...." from the listserv of Africana librarians.

Gretchen Walsh
African Studies Library
Boston University
gwalsh@acs.bu.edu


To: finnegan@husc
From: finnegan@husc (Greg Finnegan)
Subject: Village-to-Raise query
Cc:
Bcc: ALC
X-Attachments:

I spent a fair amount of time on this one, in vain, a couple of years ago at Dartmouth. It was then mentioned as a favorite saying of Ted Kennedy's, but we couldn't nail anything down. It was THEN asserted to be African, but in the last week I've seen it claimed as Native American! (I'll try to find the source. Latest RQ or Boston Globe, I suspect. Maybe online?) I hope somebody CAN find a 'real' source for it, rather than it being some sort of pseudo-African mix of Hallmark and Folk sentiments! Widener's got the Ademola book; I'll try to check it if Jill doesn't. Greg

>Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 15:39:50 -0500 (CDT) From: yvette ><SCHEVEN@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU>
>Subject: for the list, please!
>To: greg <finnegan@HUSC>
>X-UIDL: 805497524.002

>Does anyone have a specifi source for "It takes a village to educate (raise) a >child"? Al Kagan has looked in several proverb collections in UIUC. It is >attributed to "Nigeria" in My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget; A collection of >quotations by people of color (Dorothy Winbush Riley, ed.). I'm looking for a >specific culture, and if possible, confirmation that it is indeed from >Nigeria. A children's book with that title has no information about it. Hilary >Rodham Clinton's new book, due in Oct., has that title as well. Maybe I should >e-mail her! Anyone have her address? Today I requested on ILL a book mentioned >in the bibliography of My Soul Looks Back: Reflections; Nigerian Prose and >Verse (1962; ed. Frances Ademola). Thanks any, everyone!!

Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 17:29:35 -0500
To: finnegan@husc
From: finnegan@husc (Greg Finnegan)
Subject: Village-to-Raise query
X-UIDL: 805498171.003

I spent a fair amount of time on this one, in vain, a couple of years ago at Dartmouth. It was then mentioned as a favorite saying of Ted Kennedy's, but we couldn't nail anything down. It was THEN asserted to be African, but in the last week I've seen it claimed as Native American! (I'll try to find the source. Latest RQ or Boston Globe, I suspect. Maybe online?) I hope somebody CAN find a 'real' source for it, rather than it being some sort of pseudo-African mix of Hallmark and Folk sentiments! Widener's got the Ademola book; I'll try to check it if Jill doesn't. Greg

>Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 15:39:50 -0500 (CDT) From: yvette ><SCHEVEN@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU>
>Subject: for the list, please!
>To: greg <finnegan@HUSC>
>X-UIDL: 805497524.002

>Does anyone have a specifi source for "It takes a village to educate (raise) a >child"? Al Kagan has looked in several proverb collections in UIUC. It is >attributed to "Nigeria" in My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget; A collection of >quotations by people of color (Dorothy Winbush Riley, ed.). I'm looking for a >specific culture, and if possible, confirmation that it is indeed from >Nigeria. A children's book with that title has no information about it. Hilary >Rodham Clinton's new book, due in Oct., has that title as well. Maybe I should >e-mail her! Anyone have her address? Today I requested on ILL a book mentioned >in the bibliography of My Soul Looks Back: Reflections; Nigerian Prose and >Verse (1962; ed. Frances Ademola). Thanks any, everyone!!

Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 15:30:10 -0700
From: Phyllis Bischof <pbischof@library.berkeley.edu> To: finnegan@husc Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise query
X-UIDL: 805554512.002

Please post "answer" if there is one!
Thanks,
Phyllis

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 09:40:19 -0500
To: finnegan@husc
From: finnegan@husc (Greg Finnegan)
Subject: Village-to-Raise (interim)
X-UIDL: 805642731.000

Re Yvette's query about a source for the saying "it takes a village to raise a child:" The 1962 book she hoped would contain the quote, does not. Frances Ademola's REFLECTIONS: NIGERIAN PROSE AND VERSE (Lagos: African Universities Press) is an anthology of 'modern' writers. There are several stories and plays that could well contain such a sentiment, but which do not.

The recent reference I'd seen was in the Boston GLOBE's "Ask the Globe" column for June 25, '95 (p.10):

"Q. Who said 'It takes a whole village to raise a child?' M.H., Essex A. Guy Zona in 'The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears' (Simon & Shuster, 1994), a book of Native American proverbs, attributes the quote to the Omahas, a Siouan-speaking tribe from Nebraska known for participating in a major political action against the United States government concerning ownership of Indian lands in the 1880s."

I haven't seen the book. In checking to see if we had it (we don't), I see that Widener does have (in remote storage) what must be a parallel work by him: THE HOUSE OF THE HEART IS NEVER FULL AND OTHER AFRICAN PROVERBS. Simon & Schuster, 1993. Presumably Zona doesn't give it an African provenience there!

I think when the question came up at Dartmouth, the patron had seen a poster attributing the quote as a generic African saying. Whether or not it really is, I agree w/ Yvette that the folk usage, at least, sees it as African. I did a NEXIS search at the time, and found sundry politicians using the quote in vague ways (esp. a Florida (?) senator or governor??), but nothing that was at all specific about origins.

I'll attempt to find the NEXIS search & see how far back use went.

Onwards! Greg

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 08:48:15 -0500
X-Sender: mbrady@merle.acns.nwu.edu
X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Version 1.4.4
To: finnegan@husc
From: m-brady@nwu.edu (mary brady)
Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise (interim) X-UIDL: 805643619.000

greg-- Thanks for short bibliography! This thread is the most interesting one we've had in a while!!!
mary b.

>Re Yvette's query about a source for the saying "it takes a village to raise a >child:" The 1962 book she hoped would contain the quote, does not. Frances >Ademola's REFLECTIONS: NIGERIAN PROSE AND VERSE (Lagos: African Universities >Press) is an anthology of 'modern' writers. There are several stories and >plays that could well contain such a sentiment, but which do not.

>The recent reference I'd seen was in the Boston GLOBE's "Ask the Globe" column >for June 25, '95 (p.10):

>"Q. Who said 'It takes a whole village to raise a child?' M.H., Essex A. Guy >Zona in 'The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears' (Simon & >Shuster, 1994), a book of Native American proverbs, attributes the quote to >the Omahas, a Siouan-speaking tribe from Nebraska known for participating in a >major political action against the United States government concerning >ownership of Indian lands in the 1880s."

>I haven't seen the book. In checking to see if we had it (we don't), I see >that Widener does have (in remote storage) what must be a parallel work by >him: THE HOUSE OF THE HEART IS NEVER FULL AND OTHER AFRICAN PROVERBS. Simon & >Schuster, 1993. Presumably Zona doesn't give it an African provenience there!

>I think when the question came up at Dartmouth, the patron had seen a poster >attributing the quote as a generic African saying. Whether or not it really >is, I agree w/ Yvette that the folk usage, at least, sees it as African. I did >a NEXIS search at the time, and found sundry politicians using the quote in >vague ways (esp. a Florida (?) senator or governor??), but nothing that was at >all specific about origins.

>I'll attempt to find the NEXIS search & see how far back use went.

>Onwards! Greg

Mary Brady
Catalog Dept.
N.U. Library
Evanston, IL 60208
m-brady@nwu.edu

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 09:01:55 -0500 (CDT) From: yvette <SCHEVEN@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU>
Subject: village
To: greg <finnegan@HUSC>
X-UIDL: 805644525.000

What fun! I should have realized from title that Ademola would NOT have it. In any event, the NA Indian attribution sounds good; I have yet to check if we have it. Also: to show how universal this idea is, Albert's proverb # 473 is A SINGLE HAND CANNOT BRING UP A CHILD; and #472 is ONE HAND CANNOT CARRY A BABY. Onward indeed! Many thanks.

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 11:00:08 -0400 (EDT) From: Gretchen Walsh <gwalsh@acs.bu.edu> Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise (interim) To: Greg Finnegan <finnegan@husc>
X-UIDL: 805648113.000

My experience is parallel. I went through hoops trying to find a source for the phrase/proverb for a group planning to establish an Afrocentric private school. Also saw it on a poster for some benefit for children's welfare in white bread/blue collar Quincy. I personally think it was made up by someone, and isn't a proverb per se.

If anyone comes up with any sort of definitive origin, we should all file it in our ready-ref FAQ.

Gretchen Walsh
African Studies Library
Boston University
gwalsh@acs.bu.edu

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 13:54:53 -0400 (EDT) From: Gretchen Walsh <gwalsh@acs.bu.edu> Subject: It takes a village, continued... To: gregory_finnegan@harvard.edu
X-UIDL: 805661661.000

By weird coincidence, I was reading an article in Wilson LIbrary Bulletin (its final issue, June 1995). p. 41-45,141 carry an interview with Yulisa Amadu Maddy, on the topic of children's books about Africa. He praises one by Jane Cowen-Fletcher: "It Takes A Village" (Scholastic, 1994), whose plot centers on that very proverb. Maddy seems to accept the proverb as African. Perhaps he or Cowen-Fletcher have the real provenance?

Gretchen Walsh
African Studies Library
Boston University
gwalsh@acs.bu.edu

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 95 11:20:05 EDT
From: CROSSEY@yalevm.ycc.yale.edu
Organization: Yale University
Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise query To: Greg Finnegan <finnegan@HUSC>
X-UIDL: 805563510.000

I suppose I'm being ultra cynical but cd it be a green beret slogan and 'raise' shd be 'raze'?? M

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 14:58:32 -0500
To: finnegan@husc
From: finnegan@husc (Greg Finnegan)
Subject: It takes a village, continued... X-UIDL: 805662440.001

>Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 13:54:53 -0400 (EDT) From: Gretchen Walsh ><gwalsh@acs.bu.edu> Subject: It takes a village, continued... To: >gregory_finnegan@harvard.edu
>X-UIDL: 805661661.000

>By weird coincidence, I was reading an article in Wilson LIbrary Bulletin (its >final issue, June 1995). p. 41-45,141 carry an interview with Yulisa Amadu >Maddy, on the topic of children's books about Africa. He praises one by Jane >Cowen-Fletcher: "It Takes A Village" (Scholastic, 1994), whose plot centers on >that very proverb. Maddy seems to accept the proverb as African. Perhaps he or >Cowen-Fletcher have the real provenance?

>Gretchen Walsh
>African Studies Library
>Boston University
>gwalsh@acs.bu.edu

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 15:00:16 -0500
To: finnegan@husc
From: finnegan@husc (Greg Finnegan)
Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise (interim) X-UIDL: 805662440.002

neglected to re-post Gretchen's earlier msg./Greg

>Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 11:00:08 -0400 (EDT) From: Gretchen Walsh ><gwalsh@acs.bu.edu> Subject: Re: Village-to-Raise (interim) >To: Greg Finnegan <finnegan@husc>
>X-UIDL: 805648113.000

>My experience is parallel. I went through hoops trying to find a source for >the phrase/proverb for a group planning to establish an Afrocentric private >school. Also saw it on a poster for some benefit for children's welfare in >white bread/blue collar Quincy. I personally think it was made up by someone, >and isn't a proverb per se.

>If anyone comes up with any sort of definitive origin, we should all file it >in our ready-ref FAQ.

>Gretchen Walsh
>African Studies Library
>Boston University
>gwalsh@acs.bu.edu

>>> Item number 1107, dated 96/01/26 11:42:51 -- ALL

Date:         Fri, 26 Jan 1996 11:42:51 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 96
From:           Lawrence Mbogoni
                <mbogonil@martin.luther.edu>

Proverb or not, "It takes a whole village to raise a child" reflects a social reality some of us who grew up in rural areas of Africa can easily relate to. As a child, my conduct was a concern of everybody, not just my parents, especially if it involved misconduct. Any adult had the right to rebuke and discipline me and would make my mischief known to my parents who in turn would also mete their own "punishment." The concern of course was the moral wellbeing of the community.

>>> Item number 1109, dated 96/01/29 08:20:30 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 08:20:30 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 1996
From:           Edna G. Bay
                <ebay@emory.edu>

We may have entered the age of the invention of proverbs. A student turned in a paper the other day that began with the following:

We are, therefore I am.

The sentiment seems to be, if Africans don't have it as a proverb, they should!

>>> Item number 1110, dated 96/01/29 08:23:44 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 08:23:44 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 1996
From:           Canetoad57@aol.com

Regarding the proverb, a friend of mine kicked it around and couldn't find a reference before 1976 in Chicago.

Please tell me if it ain't so!

M. Smith

>>> Item number 1111, dated 96/01/29 08:25:20 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 08:25:20 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village (fwd)

Date:           Fri, 26 Jan 1996
From:           Canetoad57@aol.com

CORRECTION: I called Ed Knoblauch in Albany, NY and he said that he traced the quote to Chicago in 1978, not 1976.

M. Smith

>>> Item number 1113, dated 96/01/29 09:22:36 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 09:22:36 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Sat, 27 Jan 1996
From:           mccann@acs.bu.edu

From: Jim McCann

Re: "It takes a village..." Cornell West states in one of his stump speeches that it is an old Ethiopian proverb. His wife is an Ethiopian (from Addis), but I think it more likely that he was inspired to designate it an "Ethiopian" aphorism to lend it authenticity. I have tried to figure what the original language might have said. I have collected a fair number of Amharic tiret and never come across this one.

I find it a reasonable and profound statement about collective social responsibility, but perhaps not traceable to a specific origin.

Jim McCann
Boston University

>>> Item number 1116, dated 96/01/29 13:12:59 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 13:12:59 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Re: Reply: It Takes a Village (fwd)

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the search for the proper village. Keep us all posted of further developments.

>>> Item number 1121, dated 96/01/29 14:56:57 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 14:56:57 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Sun, 28 Jan 1996
From:           Prema Qadir
                <premaq@ilhawaii.net>

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. In my neighborhood the houses were side-by-side along a city block. Our block was a "village" when I was growing up. Old Mr. Johnson, who lived across the street monitored our activities throughout the day while my single-parent mother worked. If we got too rowdy, Mr. Johnson would get us in line from his front porch. We knew that we were loved and protected.

How do we re-embrace that aspect of community that makes us feel loved and protected, in the 21st century? Furthermore, how do we incorporate information gained from "paradigm shifting" and "consciousness raising" so that we don't damage the psyche of the individual?

This is the question that I think "It Takes A Village" raises for me. While the experts are finding out the source, I am pondering the reason that this phrase keeps circulating around the planet.

>>> Item number 1128, dated 96/01/29 15:42:31 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 15:42:31 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Mon, 29 Jan 96
From:           david lee schoenbrun
                <DSCHOENB@uga.cc.uga.edu>

Netters: I seem to remember a proverb with virtually the same translation as that given by Eddy Bay's student. I recall it appearing in a pamphlet of Maasai Wisdom (or something like this) published in the mid to late 1970s. Can Cory Kratz or Tom Spear help? Thus, all the proverbial best ideas have many lives.

>>> Item number 1129, dated 96/01/29 15:49:52 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 1996 15:49:52 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

                *****************************
                       Editor's Note:
                Are we not getting off the
                point of seeking provenance?
                            HGM
                *****************************

Date:           Mon, 29 Jan 1996
From:           Bruce Moyer
                <bcmoyer@andrews.edu>

did someone miss a point? African culture does not begin with the individual, as Descarts formula "cogito ergo sum" implies, but with the group. The group exists, therefore I am. This proverb is not made up; it is reality.

>>> Item number 1138, dated 96/01/31 09:44:32 -- ALL

Date:         Wed, 31 Jan 1996 09:44:32 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           30 Jan 1996
From:           Chris Lowe
                <Chris.Lowe@directory.Reed.EDU>
Date:           Mon, 29 Jan 1996
From:           Bruce Moyer
                <bcmoyer@andrews.edu>

did someone miss a point? African culture does not begin with the individual, as Descarts formula "cogito ergo sum" implies, but with the group. The group exists, therefore I am. This proverb is not made up; it is reality.

Actually, I think this generalization may be precisely the point. I doubt this is an African saying at all. I think it is an invented U.S. saying which uses a romanticized image of an undifferentiated "Africa" used to criticize features of U.S. society (which deserve criticism). Even if the proverb proves to have a specific provenance in some specific African culture, I question the generalization of it to "African culture" at large. That move pastoralizes Africa to express a sense of loss here.

All cultures begin with the group. Culture is inherently social. You can't have a culture of one. This is well-recognized in "western" cultures, just as individualisms of various sorts abound in African ones.

C.L. Sibusiso Nyembezi's _Zulu Proverbs_ (U. Witwatersrand, 1954) contains this one:

"Inkonyane yeny' iyayiqhubusha, eyay' iyayikhotha" Nyembezi translates: "The calf of another it (cow) gores, its own it licks."

His comment: "The observation of the people shows them that whereas animals show kindness to their own young, they do not exhibit similar kindness to the young of others. ...
"The same behaviour may be observed with some people who hate what belongs to others, and only hold in esteem what is their own."

This is from the section on "Parents and Children."

Zulu proverbial wisdom seems to see selfishness with regard to other people's children as a recurrent and significant feature of "African" life in that part of Africa. Possibly to be criticized, but also seemingly viewed as natural.

Actually lots of Nyembezi's proverbs concern selfishness in one form or another.

It's safe enough to imagine that people far away from you aren't selfish. But Zulu proverbs treat it as naive and potentially dangerous to imagine that about those close to you.

Chris Lowe
<chris.lowe@reed.edu>

>>> Item number 1139, dated 96/01/31 09:56:48 -- ALL

Date:         Wed, 31 Jan 1996 09:56:48 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Tue, 30 Jan 96
From:           Lawrence Mbogoni
                <mbogonil@martin.luther.edu>

At 03:49 PM 1/29/96 -0500, you wrote:


                       Editor's Note:
                Are we not getting off the
                point of seeking provenance?
                            HGM
                *****************************

While it is interesting to seek provenance in regard to the proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," I think it would be misleading to ascribe its origin to a single source. As I noted in my earlier message, some of us do relate to it as part of our backgrounds. Let me give a few examples of African societies with proverbs which translate to "It takes a village...":

In Lunyoro (Banyoro) there is a proverb that says "Omwana takulila nju emoi," whose literal translation is "A child does not grow up only in a single home."

In Kihaya (Bahaya) there is a saying, "Omwana taba womoi," which translates as "A child belongs not to one parent or home."

In Kijita (Wajita) there is a proverb which says "Omwana ni wa bhone," meaning regardless of a child's biological parent(s) its upbringing belongs to the community.

In Kiswahili the proverb "Asiyefunzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu" approximates to the same.

>>> Item number 1143, dated 96/01/31 14:03:01 -- ALL

Date:         Wed, 31 Jan 1996 14:03:01 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Wed, 31 Jan 1996
From:           Ralph Austen
                <wwb3@midway.uchicago.edu>

I think both Chris Lowe and Lawrence Mbogoni are on target. The one generalization that can be made about "African" societies is that small communities ("villages") have retained their cohesion there longer than in the industrialized West. Thus various proverbs and practices involving child rearing is an issue extending beyond the nuclear family. However, this can cut in many ways, like anywhere else. Among the Mande we have the concept of "fadenya" which is based on rivalry between sons of the same father but different mothers in the same HOUSEHOLD. However, as those who have read Camara Laye's DARK CHILD may remember, often the "second mother" of a child may take great interest and pride in his (it is usually males) achievements. One of my colleagues once told me that he did not really know which of his father's wives was his "real" mother until he went to school because a non-biological mother took such care of him.

Moral: let the Hilary Clintons of the world use Africa as a paradigm for reform of our own society. Our job is not to "authenticate" or criticize such internal western discourse but rather to keep in mind the richness and complexity of life in socieites which should not be seen simply as an "anti-West."

>>> Item number 1147, dated 96/02/01 14:03:01 -- ALL

Date:         Thu, 1 Feb 1996 14:03:01 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It takes a village

Date:           Wed, 31 Jan 96
From:           Claire Dehon
                <DEHONCL@KSUVM.KSU.EDU>

I have lived on three continents, in small towns, and funny, I found that the Belgian Ardennes villages, the Maniema villages (Zaire), and Kansas villages all behave in the same way: the affairs of one are the concern of all. If a child misbehaves, everybody will try to correct him or her, the story teller will keep them entertained, the teacher, the priest, the lady who is the best cook, all will participate with the parents, the extended family, and everybody else. As a correspondent said, this kind of education happened also in neighbourhoods in big cities. I blame the disappearance of this kind of education on television! (this is somewhat of a joke!).

>>> Item number 1167, dated 96/02/03 15:27:48 -- ALL

Date:         Sat, 3 Feb 1996 15:27:48 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

I have just today joined this list. I researched the question of where did the ancient African proverb, "It takes a whole village to raise a single child" three years ago after I noticed its use by New York State Education department in their "New Compact for Learning."

Knowing that Americans are fond of ascribing newly forged proverbs to the most foreign culture they can conceive (As in the child's game, Confucius says....) the ascription "African proverb" raised my suspicicions.

The implicit racism in this term aside (can you imagine something ascribed as a "European Proverb?"), the earliest use I could find its use was at a ICA (a NGO community development group) meeting in Chicago in 1980. As the ICA had (has?) an office in Kenya, it is possible that the 'proverb' from Chicago did find its way to Africa.

Curiously, the 'true' proverbs on this subject from peoples whose homes are on the African continent sound more like this, "The business of the king ends at the gate of the village and the business of the village ends at the gate of the hut."

If an earlier usage than 1980 can be found for this "proverb" I would appreciate hearing of it.
Edward H. Knoblauch

>>> Item number 1170, dated 96/02/05 11:19:37 -- ALL

Date:         Mon, 5 Feb 1996 11:19:37 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
Sender:       H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@MSU.EDU>
From:         Harold Marcus <ethiopia@hs1.hst.msu.edu>
Subject:      Reply: It Takes a Village

Date:           Mon, 5 Feb 1996
From:           Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch
                <coqueryv@ext.jussieu.fr>

Please think that rural societies have everywhere common points, among which this kin solidarity. A French medievist historian understood it perfectly : Georges Duby, in the first two chapters of his *History of the Middle Ages* (Warriors and Peasants from the seventh to the eleventh century, written some fifteen years ago - -and translated in English I believe), rebuild rural life in medieval Europe using Marcel Mauss and other Africanist anthropologists, and it fits quite perfectly. Therefore, "It takes a village" astonishes us just because we forgot i, since most children are born in cities nowadays (including in Africa). Is it not the true reason why this discussion cannot stop?


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