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Diaspora based Anglican cleric pens 200 ‘new’ proverbs

From his firm belief that Zimbabweans should strive to learn more than their mother languages Makwasha ensured that his collection, originally in Shona only, was also made available in appropriate Ndebele translations and including English explanatory notes.


AUTHOR:  Rev Dr Gift Makwasha 

Reviewed by John Masuku

FROM  decades of  participant observation, theological reflection and an amazing experience  of living in a range of demographic settings including Zimbabwe, United States of America and his current Australian base , Anglican priest Rev Dr Gift Makwasha has written his fourth book  ‘Njere Dzemuchenjeri/Ubuhlakaniphi Besihlakaniphi/The Wisdom of the Wise.’

It is his collection of 200 of  wise sayings born out of a desire to add more proverbs to the already rich heritage or wisdom inherited from our ancestors and the Bible.

“It is a collection of brand new proverbs drawn from daily experiences and from my now and again,  personal moments of inspiration.” wrote Makwasha in his preface.

His first books are “Repression, Resistance and Revival of the Ancestor  Cult in the Shona Churches of Zimbabwe’; ‘Higher Education; The Key To Your Elevation’ and ‘Mount Inyangani’

After decades of entire dependence on rich wise sayings from such popular collections like ‘Tsumo Nemadimikira’ by Amos Munjanja, ‘Izaga’ by Amon Nyamambi and Phamba Mpofu and ‘The Students Companion’ by Wilfed D Best and the Bible among other books containing proverbs,  Makwasha believes that new generations should also coin new words of wisdom relevant to their changing times, circumstances and lifestyles.

“It is my contention that we need to break away from the dependency syndrome - we depend so much on the past,” he said.

“I believe that our grandchildren and great grandchildren should also look back at our generation and applaud us for the wisdom we left behind for them through proverbs”

From his firm belief that Zimbabweans should strive to learn more than their mother languages Makwasha ensured that his collection, originally in Shona only, was also made available in appropriate Ndebele translations and including English explanatory notes.

Using his power of networking he  persuaded  his colleagues in the Christian faith like Sister Blessing Moyo HMS an Anglican Benedictine  nun who teaches at a high school in Gweru  to translate from Shona to Ndebele.

Fellow priests Rev Fr Melusi Sibanda and Rev Fr Titus Manjengwa and myself  his former congregant at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Mabelreign, Harare proofread the translation to ensure that Ndebele speakers also enjoy the ‘new’ Zimbabwean wisdom coming from ‘Down Under’

In the book’s introduction Sibanda concurs with Makwasha that there should be a resolve to integrate the wisdom of the past as inherited through the Bible and oral traditions of African people.

“Every generation and society pose a set of questions to itself about what it might mean to live well with others. ‘Njere Dzemuchenjeri/Ubuhlakaniphi Besihlakaniphi/The Wisdom of the Wise’ sets the context for asking related questions in respect of Zimbabwean communities right across the country and in neighbouring southern African countries with common traditions and cultures” Sibanda proffers.

In my Foreword to the book I reveal; “So here is another ‘wisdom manual’ which will preserve our Shona and Ndebele languages and cultures with the motivation to have it in other  official tongues recognised  by the Zimbabwean constitution.”

To achieve this, in a digitized world in which we sometimes unfortunately look down upon our own indigenous languages and cultures thus failing to motivate our children to cherish them and thus make the following appeal

“I encourage parents to adopt the culture of reading books such as this one in the home and explain unfamiliar words and unpack meanings for the young ones and even encourage them to come up with their own new ones.”

This reinforces Makwasha’s advice that older members of society have the responsibility to educate children and young people so that they can grow up as people who are  ‘world ready.’

In conclusion here are some samples of Makwasha’s fresh words of wisdom.

“Anoziva muridzi wemimba ndiye akayitakura/Ozithweleyo nguye owazi umnikazi wesisu” (The pregnant one is the one who knows who is responsible for it.

“Gomo kushaya mukwiriro hunge risina michero/ Intaba engakhwelekiyo ngengela zithelo” (The most difficult to climb mountain is the one without any fruits)

Enjoy the rest of the latest rich African wisdom from ‘Njere Dzemuchenjeri/Ubuhlakaniphi Besihlakaniphi /The Wisdom of the Wise by Rev Dr Gift Makwasha who is nicknamed ‘The Ancestor’ by theology students and peers and published in 2023 by Gift Media Incorporated (Pvt) Ltd


  • *John Masuku is the chairman of the Barbara Clara Makhalisa Nkala Literary Trust (BCMNLT)

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