Wisdom from Africa
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By Mavuto Kapyepye Proverbs have been part of a people's tradition and customs since time immemorial. The philosophical language used reflects a people's life, thinking, and environment.
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Proverbs can be and do get used to sometimes summarise complex concepts. Despite the localised touch to the vocabulary expressed, some proverbs have been known to communicate concepts that have global relevance, such as emotional intelligence. In my previous articles, I have elaborated on the five components of emotional intelligence based on Daniel Goleman's framework. In this article, I revisit those five components by drawing on parallels with African indigenous wisdom as transmitted through proverbs.
Self-awareness speaks to one's ability to recognise their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and drivers, and to understand their impact on others.
Wisdom of Africa
This ancient Egyptian Proverb "Man, know thyself" has its origin in the spiritual practices of the time, whose epicenter was the temple. One of their spiritual teachings, according to Patricia Feager, was stated as follows: "The kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it". From this teaching comes the proverb "Man, know thyself," and its application transcends the spiritual realm. If we are not intentional on reflecting, we cannot truly understand who we are, why we make certain decisions, what we are good at, and where we fall short.
Self-awareness grows when you get to know yourself on a deeper level. Are you aware of how you get energised as a person? Is it through interacting with people or through introspection in your own space? The very first component of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, is reflected in this ancient Egyptian Proverb under discussion here: "Man, know thyself".
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African Proverb: "Anger and madness are brothers". African Proverb: "If you get rich, be in a dark corner when you jump for joy". Self-regulation is also referred to as self-management, or just discipline. Self-regulation is concerned with how you control and manage yourself and your emotions, inner resources, and abilities. It also includes your ability to manage your impulses.
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There are many triggers to our emotions daily, and such emotions can be positive, such as excitement, or negative, such as anger and frustration. The two proverbs cited above bring out two dimensions of self-regulation. The first one touches on management of negative emotions in a situation where anger is involved. It is presented as an alert on the consequences of not being able to manage anger.
The second proverb speaks to positive emotions as a result of something good one is experiencing. Some people can get overwhelmed by positive emotions such as excitement. It is about learning to regulate our feelings once we become aware of them.
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It speaks to managing one's internal states, impulses, and resources, so that they do more good than harm. Malidoma Patrice Some is both an initiated African shaman and a gifted Western scholar. His name literally means "he who makes friends with the stranger" and he has spent his life immersing himself in African and Western cultures in order that he may bridge the gap between the two. In this book he takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual practices and spiritual wisdom of the Dagara people who are renowned throughout West Africa for their miraculous powers of healing.
In much the same way as Deepak Chopra is able to communicate complex Ayurvedic philosophy in an accessible way, Malidoma Some applies the solutions of an ancient African tradition to the problems of the modern world. He addresses the widespread psychological problems of loneliness, alienation and lack of purpose with the healing powers of ritual and connection to nature. This is a ground-breaking book as, for the first time, we have an authentic voice initiated into an African healing tradition who speaks with academic prowess and personal experience of modern Western culture.
Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x 28mm Educated by Catholic missionaries he is an initiated diviner and medicine man and holds three masters degrees as well as two Phd's from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University in the US.
Review quote "In this profoundly wise and fascinating book Malidoma Patrice Some has delivered an incomparably meaningful gift to us wanderers and seekers in the West. The way back to the memory of who we once were; the way forward to who we are or might become. Rating details.
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