Bi kidude laying on the grass, smoking.

Here are some wise Swahili sayings that might have originated in Bi Kidude’s time.

Bi Kidude is a legend. The undisputed queen of Taarab music has a humble background as a coconut seller and has beaten all odds to land accolades such as the Prestigious WOMEX award  in 2005 for her outstanding contribution to music and culture in Zanzibar.

Afridocs will bring you As Old As My Tongue, a portrait of Bi Kidude who is a living legend on her home island of Zanzibar. The Andy Jonesproduction was filmed over three years in Zanzibar and on tour with the wise Bi Kidude.

Bi Kidude, like any Swahili woman, wore a kanga around her waist, which usually carries different messages depending on the occasion. Here are some wise Swahili sayings that might have originated in Bi Kidude’s time.

1. Usitake makubwa kabla madogo hujayaweza.  

Don't desire to do big things before you have accomplished small ones.

2. Pata awezaye kukishua chombo.

Get someone who can push the boat down [into the water].

Choose a strong and able man to help you. This is advice to young girls to get themselves husbands who can perform successfully.

3. Embe mbivu yaliwa kwa uvumilivu.

A ripe mango has to be eaten slowly         

Of course the writing doesn't refer to an actual "ripe mango". It refers to a love partner who is willing and ready. She/he has to be handled gently and with care.

4. Hodi hodi naikome mwaka ujao naolewa

Knock, knock should stop, as I'm getting married next year.

The lady doesn't want any more (male) visitors who drop by her house trying to win her affections because she is engaged and getting married soon. Of course, she's concerned that the persistent "knock, knock" of visitors at her door might spoil her chance of getting married.

5. Mapenzi hudumu ukila zabibu

Love lasts if you eat grapes.

The literal translation doesn't make much sense but it actually means, love is sustained by sexual relation.

Check out Bi Kidude on As Old As My Tongue, coming on Afridocs on Thursday 22 October.