Ihlonipha lalapho ingayikugana khona

Umntwana kumele ahloniphe wonke umuntu omdala kungelani lokuthi kasuye mzali wakhe qho

English Literal Equivalent: She respects even the family to which she is not betrothed.

English Meaning: One must respect all people, particularly their elders, and not just one’s you are related to.

Context: Ndebele culture, like many others within the region, entrenches the tenets of Ubuntu. A key aspect of this is the respect for all humans due to the interconnectedness of our lives and communities. In this way, an important aspect of a prospective wife was respect. It was believed that when one marries, he does not marry for himself but for the entire family. A man would therefore choose a lady who the community speaks highly of in terms of respect. The community could only speak highly of a young lady if she showed respect to the entire community not just to her relatives or prospective relatives. This also had the benefits of earning the community’s respect and consequently finding a life partner of one’s choice. Elders then interpreted this as fortune coming out of respecting the community. While the proverb is constructed from one gender, it applies across board.

Application: People are tempted to respect just those people they are related to. This proverb suggests that there are benefits in respecting everyone who is older or holds a senior position than you in the community. Showing disrespect to people usually results in community losing respect in the person, which may result in one losing out on certain opportunities, the community may offer.


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