Isaga

Ubozidla uzibeka amathambo

Literal EngWhile you eat them (cattle), keep the bones.

Definitions

Ndebele

Sebenzisa noma yini oyibolekileyo ngonanzelelo ngoba kungadingeka uyibusisele kubanikazi.

Eng Do not spoil/plunder what you borrowed because you may pay dearly from the misuse.

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The proverb is centred around the cattle used as lobola payment (bridal price or token representing the marriage of the families). It was sadly not uncommon that women could run away from their matrimonial homes for one reason or another including domestic violence or infidelity. When that happened, an aggrieved husband could go to the inlaws to claim the cattle which he bargained as lobola for the wife. If the inlaws had used the cattle for other purposes, paying back the lobola proved costly. Our ancestors then realised that lobola cattle were like borrowed cattle (as one may have to pay them back) and had to be treated as such. The proverb was also meant to train children properly so they are able to stand up to and overcome the challenges associated with married life.
In the present day life, this proverb is suited for situations where someone gets paid in advance for an agreement or job. Sadly sometimes when people get paid in advance for a job, they may fail to deliver in terms of the terms of the contract. Such payment should therefore be treated as borrowed money which may have to be repaid, if one does not fulfill their side of the bargain. However the old meaning still stands too that lobola should not be plundered but saved or invested for family use with possibility of returning the money in the case of divorce.
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