Tsumo

Bere zvarakatya, mapapata aro mangani? Makunguo zvaakatya, akafa mangani?

Literal EngSince the hyena is such a coward, how many skeletons of it does one see?; Since crows are usually cowardly, how many died?

Definitions

Shona

Dzimwe nguva kutiza matambudziko, panorwiwa kana miedzo kunoponesa pane kuzvimirira kuti zvikuwane iwe usina kuzvigadzirira kana kusimba.

Eng Sometimes it is rewarding to avoid conflict and challenges and seek safety first in order to prepare yourself to confront those challenges at another time. In other words discretion is the better part of valour.

Learn

Hyenas and crows are generally cowardly scavengers that wait for predators to first finish feeding and then they eat the remains. If another predator arrives they simply flee. The proverb observes that what may appear to be cowardice on the part of crows or hyenas is actually best explained by the lack of their skeletal remains. In this way our elders were challenging us to exercise our discretion in terms of hardships and getting into fights. Sometimes it is better to walk away, live and fight another day.
The proverb is used to challenge someone who fails to exercise discretion by choosing confrontation or refusing to avert a challenge or an impending conflict. It is not in support of cowardly behaviour but rather a censure to big headedness in the face of danger.
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