Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Proverb source: When a knowledgeable old person dies

I wrote a post last year titled, When an elder dies, a whole library is lost. A reader wrote to ask me for the source, in the original words. I sent him to the TEDtalk video in the same post. But he insisted it was African and sent me an academic paper with the following quote:

"When a knowledgeable old person dies, a whole library disappears" -An old African proverb

Some more googling found a source that refers to it as an Ethiopian saying.

If any reader is familiar with the Ethiopian (or other source) of the saying, please share.  Thanks.


Anonymous said...

It is a quotation from Amadou Hampate Ba in a speech at UNESCO in 1960

folktaler said...

Thanks! I see the quote on Wikipedia as En Afrique, quand un vieillard meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle. — "In Africa, when an old man dies, it's a library burning."


Anonymous said...

In folklorist Carlos Vega's 1936 book Danzas y Canciones Argentinas, as shown in Google Books, he writes, "Cuando agoniza un anciano analfabeto, parece que se quema una biblioteca" which google translate renders as: When an illiterate old man dies, a library seems to burn.