Eritrean Proverbs on Youth

Proverbs are a part of the rich cultural heritage of Eritrean society. Proverbs about youth, child, women, men, relationships, and human behaviors. The proverbs of Eritrean people touch every aspect of social life and natural phenomenon. Their pedagogical use is of vital importance; they offer invaluable lessons, advice, and guidance to members of the society. Since they are short and often poetic, proverbs are attractive and catchy. The wisdom, truth, and morality contained in the proverbs transcends time and handed down from generation to generation.

For the moment, I will mention some Eritrean proverbs concerning youth. Traditional Eritrean society has a deep respect on and understands the role of youth.

  1. A Tigre proverb ሰይፍ ወ ወጠን ምስል ልትወለዳ፣ ወ እት አሽንገል ሸባብ ነብራ፣ which roughly translated “sword and country are alike. They both live on the shoulder of the youth” reminds that the security and prosperity of a country rests on the shoulder of youth. This proverb reformulates a formidable narrative on youth as solution providers and bearers of responsibility.
  2. Defense or protection has always been the responsivity of youth. A proverb that goes on to say “no cattle can be stolen in the presence of a youth and no case can be perverted in the presence of an elder” pointed out that youth have the power to defend and in its presence theft, transgression and aggression can’t happen.
  3. There are also proverbs that advice young people to develop financial prudence. Often times, youth tend to be extravagant. One Tigrigna proverb, through question and answer, has given a full lesson about financial intelligence. The discursive proverb says “When can you find money? When you are young. So why you don’t keep it? I have not the wisdom to do that. When you really need money? When you get old. So why don’t you get it? I have not the ability to do it.” The moral lesson of the proverb is that you must keep money at your early age to have a stable life in your later age.
  4. Another discursive Eritrean proverb that gives recommendations for parents is “what childhood needs is indulgence, and adolescent needs prudence.” The hearts of the young people are said to be wayward and deceitful. Its imperative to maintain a constant watch over to protect from wrong deeds. A youth is expected to watch over his/herself and other must treat them wisely to overcome temptations. On the same vein, there is another proverb that says, “you have to be vigilant when your child is transitioning into puberty and your crop is ripening.”

As a final note, youth must pay proper attention to proverbs and keep them cautiously. Proverbs, as a source of wisdom and advice, have a greater impact on Eritrean society. It’s now the responsibility of the present-day youth to make sure that the usefulness, applicability, and relevance of this age old treasury to pass onto the future.

Written by Simon Weldemichael 

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