I enjoy watching people at airports and bus stations. Someone is reading a book. A few people are reading newspapers and magazines. Over there, a lady is cleaning her eyeglasses. Then a young man sits down to eat a quick meal. All the busy people are using their hands!
There is a wonderful saying about hands in the Ndebele language of the Nguni people of Matabeleland Province, Zimbabwe. The saying is Izandla ziya gezana. Taken literally, it states the obvious. “It takes one hand to wash the other.”
Izandla ziya gezana, however, is used to refer to a number of social situations. For example, it refers to the expectation that people in communities should help each other. When one neighbor helps another, the one who is helped will go and help yet another. One act of kindness spreads to others. It takes one to help another.
Another application of Izandla ziya gezana is when everyone comes together to rally behind a community member who is in need. In times of grief, disaster, weddings, or celebration, the Ngunis come together to support one another. They say Izandla ziya gezana, with the meaning, “we are all in this together.”
Just as hands work together for a common purpose, the Nguni people believe that working together will accomplish much. Izandla ziya gezana encourages people to join hands with others in order to produce bigger results. There are many things that need our attention in the communities where we live.
Why not look around and find something to do for your neighbor? There is wisdom in what the Nguni say, Izandla ziya gezana. We can do a lot more if we work together. After all, as one hand washes another, both are connected to the same body. In the same way, all humans are connected to one another in Jesus Christ, in whom we all live and move and have our being.
Photo: Kalengule Kaoma
Kalengule Kaoma lives in Zambia, Africa, and is a mission developer for a number of African nations.
Author: Kalengule Kaoma