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A Swahili Proverb


“Mama mboga hawezi kutana na daktari ikawa hana ugonjwa”

A Swahili phrase that translates into English as “the woman who sells greens will only meet a doctor when she is sick”. At first I didn’t quite understand what it meant. After reflecting on it for a while, I thought I had successfully cracked the code. Much to my surprise, I was very wrong….

When broken down to its literal sense, a woman who sells greens at the market is incredibly limited to who she interacts with on a daily basis. She may have different customers but ultimately, she is most familiar with those who are in a similar situation to her.

Her exchanges with a doctor are most likely limited to ill health, medical fees, and death. She will then associate doctors with such events and prays that she never crosses paths with them. She doesn’t know the wealth of intelligence, wisdom and skill they hold simply because she lacks perspective.

The same concept applies to the circles we keep. It would be ludicrous for me to expect to meet moguls if my circle is brimming with people with no ambition or sense of purpose.
It’s not easy, and not always the other persons fault; in the case of the spinach seller, her job limits her breadth of exposure. However, it is HER OWN responsibility to decide that she wants more from her life.

The lesson to draw from this quote is to firstly become, and surround yourself with that which you desire to become. It is a hard hitting one but nonetheless, essential for anyone trying to break out of the old, and into the new.