musmaar JuHa. Juha’s nail. – مسمار جُحا

مسمار جُحا
musmaar JuHa.
Juha’s nail.
This expression is used to describe an unwelcome person who it is hard to get rid of because they always come up with excuses and justifications for lingering. Under Sudanese culture it is considered shameful to turn away a guest, particularly at meal times.

This saying has an amusing story behind it.
One day Juha was approached by a man who wanted to buy his beautiful house. Juha agreed to the man’s offer but on one condition. He insisted on retaining the ownership of a single nail that had been struck into one of the walls. Being delighted with the price, the buyer agreed to this odd insistence and the sale was soon completed.

After a few days Juha arrived at the door when the family was having their dinner with the excuse that he wanted to see his nail. The new owner allowed him in and as the Arabs are famous for their generosity, Juha was invited to share their meal after seeing his nail. This was the first of innumerable visits that Juha made in the following days. Juha would arrive at all hours, day or night, on the pretext of wishing to see his nail. The new owner finally lost his temper as Juha was depriving his family of any rest and privacy. In a blind rage, he stormed out of the house, shouting to Juha, “Take your house with its nail. I don’t want it!”

مسمار جُحا

The judgment of Garagoosh (part 1)

حكم قراقوش

Hukum garagoosh. The judgment of Garagoosh.

This short expression is used when a peculiar or tyrannical judgment has been passed. The litigious nature of Sudanese society helps to account for why this Arabic saying about a judge called Garagoosh is commonly used.

There are numerous stories about him such as that of Garagoosh although few can be as bizarre as that concerning a pregnant woman: It once happened that a soldier collided with a farmer’s pregnant wife as he rushed to climb onto one of the small boats that ferry people across the Nile. The incident resulted in the poor woman having a miscarriage. After the farmer brought a legal case against the soldier, the parties appeared before Garagoosh to set out their case. Garagoosh decreed that the soldier take the peasant’s wife to his house until she was pregnant again, and that after she had been pregnant for seven months she should return to her husband. “Oh my great master! I withdraw my complaints, and entrust my case to God and his justice,” was all that the flabbergasted farmer could plead.

Another story relates how a creditor went to Garagoosh to complain that his debtor had failed to repay the sum loaned to him. In mitigation, the debtor explained that although he was a poor man he had endeavoured to repay the creditor. However, he had been unable to find the man when the money was in his pocket, and by the time they met the money had been spent. In response Garagoosh passed judgement that the creditor should be gaoled so that the debtor would know the place to hand over the money! On hearing the sentence the creditor didn’t hestitate to forgive the debtor all the money he had borrowed!

 

Sudanese Proverbs: Translated, Translitrated & Explained

BookCoverPreview[1]

Our book on Sudanese Proverbs is now available as a print on demand book.

The cover was created on a Createspace template which only allows certain options. Nevertheless we were very pleased to receive the cover image from the Sudanese artist, Ahmed Amir Jabir.

Sudanese Proverbs: Translated, Transliterated & Explained (finally finished!)

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Our book on Sudanese Arabic Proverbs is thankfully finally seeing the light of day!

Here is the description of the e-book :

This collection of proverbs provides a fascinating glimpse into the culture, social morals, historical traditions and humour of the Sudanese people. Learning some of these proverbs can be a great way of sharing your sense of humour or expressing an opinion without having to stumble on words that might be misunderstood. For the most part, these succinct sayings call for virtues that encourage solidarity, peace and coherence within society.

  • Contains over 560 Sudanese Arabic proverbs that are commonly used in the Sudan.
  • Each proverb has an English translation.
  • The transliterated script guides pronunciation and assists beginners in learning the Arabic language.
  • Concise notes explain the meaning and cultural background of each proverb.
  • Includes a dozen folk-tales linked to individual proverbs.
  • An alphabetical index is supplied for easy reference.

The book can be purchased on the Amazon website

(We hope to publish a print on demand version as well.)

A Sudanese Proverb With A Tale

شِن قطعك يا راس

shin gaTa’ik ya raas.

Oh head, what cut you?

When words are many, sin is not absent, and he who holds his tongue is sometimes wise. One has to be wise in what one says and how you say it. Sometimes it is better to keep silent. This saying has a story behind it:

 

There was an Arab who was travelling on his donkey in the desert. On his way, he found a skeleton. Motivated by his curiosity, he got off his donkey to investigate it. He found that the head had become separated from its body. 

“Glorification is to God!” He murmured to himself in surprise. As he went closer to the skull lying close to the skeleton he asked: “Who cut you head?”

The skull jumped from its place and answered: “It is my tongue that cut me!”

The Arab was filled with horror. So he repeated the same question many times and the skull gave him the same answer every time.

Now as this Arab was not a sober or self-possessed person, he rushed back to his village straight to the mayor’s house. There he found the mayor with all the village notables around him, and without pausing for breath he told them the whole story of the beheaded skeleton. They started to giggle sarcastically at what he said and the Malik rebuked him. Instead of leaving the mayor’s council meeting, he was persistent and insisted on the mayor and the others  follow him back to the skeleton’s place in the desert.

Because of the Arab’s boldness in asking, the mayor and his council agreed to follow. The mayor threatened and said: “By divorce. If I find out what you have said is not true, I will behead you like the skeleton you have seen.”

When they reached the place, the Arab asked the skull: “Oh head, what cut you?”

But to his bad luck the skull did not move or answer. He repeated the question many times, but still he got no answer. The mayor’s blood boiled in his veins and he felt that his reputation had been ruined for following such a mentally deranged man. He beheaded the Arab and went back with his men to the village… but before they moved further, the skull jumped of its place towards the head of the Arab which was still bleeding and said to it: “Didn’t I tell you that my tongue cut me?!”

More Sudanese Arabic Proverbs

These proverbs from Sudan all have an animal theme.

الجَمل ما بشوف عوجة رقبته
aj jamal ma bishuuf ‘awajat ragabtu.
The camel does not see the bend of its neck. This proverb is said about people who are very good at condemning others and ignoring their own faults and mistakes. (An English proverb with a similar meaning could be: the pot called the kettle black)

ابن الوز عوام.
ibn al wizz ‘awwaam.
A gosling is a good swimmer. Like father, like son. Children take after their parents, not only in looks but also in their character.

Another proverb with a similar meaning would be:
ود الفار حفار.
waddal faar Hafaar.
The son of a mouse is a digger. Sons inherit their fathers’ traits and characters.