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Gambian Proverbs and the Phone Hacking Scandal

Posted on the 11 July 2011 by Iangreen @GREENComms

Just got back from a great week working in Gambia, with delegates from different parts of Africa at the International PR, Human Resources and Management Forum.
While there I created a game with fellow lecturer David Taylor. We are both passionate about the power of story telling and metaphors in communications for gaining insight, inspiration, and providing fresh perspectives.
We had both bought different local books on Gambian proverbs, and using the format and scoring of tennis we tried to outdo each other in our respective proverbs. The match was, diplomatically a proverbial draw.
Can I suggest you read the proverbs, but with reference to the current scandal about News International and phone hacking.
I feel there are some significant insights to be gained in understanding the situation and for guiding your responses to what should happen next.
Here are some of my favourites served from Proverbs of the Sene-Gambia by Bamba Khan and Mariama Khan.

  • You cannot be drumming and scratching your buttocks at the same time.
  • The blood of the circumcised will never spare his thighs.
  • No matter what decades a stick spends in the river, it cannot change into a crocodile.
  • It is better to betray your circumciser than the one who dresses your hair.
  • Walking bare feet for ages will in the end be like walking in shoes.
  • If you are accused of being a witch, avoid being seen with meat at night.
  • The goat must not attend a wrestling contest among the wolves.
  • A lie has no buttock to sit on.

While in Gambia I also bought a statue consisting of three wise monkeys: see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil.
Again, offering food for thought it led me to create my own Gambian proverb (and I have made sure to keep well away from mentioning circumcision!): Traveling with an open mind, helps you better understand things at home.


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