Comment On This: Haitian Proverb

So the sermon from Mike Breaux this week is about how “the mighty fall.” Mike will be here tomorrow to discuss this further and you will be able to view the sermon on Sunday morning. When Mike told us the title for this week’s sermon one of my favorite Haitian proverbs came to mind. It reads like this.

Mapou tonbe, kabrit manje fèy li.

When the Mapou (Kapok) tree falls, goats eat its leaves.

A couple of notes need to be made to completely understand this proverb.  First of all I need to tell you about the size of the Mapou tree.  To say it is a massive tree is to sell it short.  When entering a small town in Haiti the Mapou tree is often the first thing that you see.  It towers over town squares, historical sites, and areas of religious importance.  It is the landmark from which directions are given and it is the place where people meet.

Secondly, the Mapou tree is not only significant in stature but also in aura.  The Mapou is thought to attract spirits, it is a symbol of power both physical and spiritual.  There is a reason Mapou trees have been spared from logging and the charcoal trade and have grown to enormous heights, not many people are willing to take the risk to cut one down and reap any unwanted repercussions, it is a revered symbol in the country of Haiti.

So now we look at the proverb again and read it in a different light.  When the Mapou tree, the biggest and most important tree and perhaps landmark in the area, falls, the goats eat its leaves.

Haitian people, and anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the country, know what this proverb means and what it looks like in real life.  Let’s hear your interpretations, thoughts, and opinions in the comment section below.  I will share my thoughts after we hear from you.  Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments on “Comment On This: Haitian Proverb”

  1. David Andral
    September 2, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    It would be more like

    Mapou falls, the goats eat it’s leaves.

    In haitian proverbs the object in focus is personified so there is no “the” in the translation.
    Born and raised in haiti for 20 years. My grandmother was a hardcore catholic and definitely ordered us away from anything other than. But I have heard this proverb no doubt and I always interpreted as everything has an end even the mighty.


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