Yiri bɛ se ka sigi ji kɔnɔ san caman, nka a tɛ se ka kɛ bama ye

Proverb:
Yiri bɛ se ka sigi ji kɔnɔ san caman, nka a tɛ se ka kɛ bama ye.

Literal Translation:
A piece of wood can sit in the water many years, but it cannot become a crocodile.

Meaning:
You can stay in a place a long time, but it will not make you a native.

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“Yiri mɛɛn o mɛɛn ji kɔnɔ, à tɛ kɛ bama ye”

‘No matter how long a piece of wood stays in the water, it will never turn into crocodile.’

I prefer to explain that in a more general way though: no matter how long you stay in a place (Mali, Sénégal, US…), you will not be a citizen.

You can stay in a country for long time, but always have in mind that you come from somewhere else, and you may be called African-American or Senegalese-American.

Same thing with even the culture: you can with people from a different culture, learn their culture and the language but you will never be a Mandingo or a Fulani…

Some times people tell that proverb to someone who is rejecting his own culture or it’s ideology because he has lived in a different country with a different culture.

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Yes. I had ‘You can stay in Mali a long time, but you will not become Malian’ in parenthesis because I didn’t quite know how to generalize it… I was originally going to put something to the effect of what you’ve written ‘No matter how long you stay in a place you won’t be a citizen’ but opted out because you can actually become a citizen of another place.

So, I have now edited it as “You can stay in a place a long time, but it will not make you a native.” :slightly_smiling_face:

A person can stay in another country a long time and everyone, native and non-native, should keep in mind that sometimes a non-native’s way of being is inherent. And regardless of where you’re from mɔgɔ bɛɛ ni à cogo. Everyone has his/her own way of doing things. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Aw ni ce! I think that the most appropriate translation will always depend, but I think that the idea of an “insider” or someone who belongs to a particular community gets at it as well.

No matter how long a log stays in the river, it can never become a crocodile.

“Yerkuntoo meetah bakono nyaa-wonya woteh akela bamboo ti”

You’re right. I cannot say better, and I agree that “native” is the best word and it is more general.

Again, thanks for posting the proverb.

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I love this proverb, especially its most literal translation. Thanks for sharing.

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