The Camel’s Crooked Neck – a Sudanese Proverb

 

Camels in Dar Kababish

Camels in Dar Kababish

 

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 while ignoring their own faults and mistakes.

 

 

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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.

Sudanese Proverbs (part 3)

الايدو في النار ما زي الايدو في الموية.

 

al iidu fil naar ma zeey al iidu fil mooya.

Putting your hand in the fire is not like putting it in the water.

Sometimes we criticize or consider people actions or reactions to a certain situation as wrong or improper. These actions might be the outcomes of the effects imposed on them by the circumstances of the situation or the ordeal they are passing through which are different from those of the person who is criticizing them.

الخيل تجقلب والشكر لحماد.

al kheel tajaglib wash shukur li Hammaad.

The horses run, prance and gallop about in the battle field but when victory is won, Hammaad gets the praise. (Hammaad was one of Abdalla Jamaa’s sons and was the leader of the Abdallaab district.)

Sudanese Proverbs (2)

1) ya’mil min al-Habba gubba (makes a dome out of a seed).

A similar proverb in English would be: to make a mountain out of a molehill. (this means that a person has turned a trifle matter into a major disaster!)

2) al-kheel tajaglib wash shukur li Hammaad (The horses run, prance and gallop about in the battle field but when victory is won, praise goes to Hammaad). Hammaad was one of Abdalla Jamaa’s sons and leader of the Abdallaab district.