The Man Who Speaks in Proverbs

gibril-bangura-painting

A few months ago, I met a man from Sierra Leone, a teacher and entrepreneur.

We meet for coffee every once in a while, just to encourage one another on the hard path of service and life’s purpose.

He speaks English, but of an altogether different kind than most people are used to. It is not just his rich accent that initially confounds. It is his way of speaking in proverbs. Scattered within his stories and experiences, these phrases rise to the top, like white foam on the crest of a wave.

At first, I wasn’t sure if he was preaching religion. He would say, for example, “Feed my sheep.” But then I realized that it wasn’t conversion he was after. Rather, he was calling out the heart of  the matter. His words touch a vein of struggle and overcoming. This vein has no creed or allegiance, other than the human creed, the human allegiance.

“I lost my job, but not my focus.”

“If Life says Yes to you, who is there who can say no?

At our last meeting, he shared a proverb that came to him, in the early morning, between dream and waking:

“Be fearless and confident in a chaotic world.”

I simply want to pass this proverb on to you, since it feels like something we can never hear too many times.

“Be fearless and confident in a chaotic world.”

ismaila alfa

(Note: The art is by Gibril Bangura, an artist from Sierra Leone.)

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