The Baminba Tribe - A Cautionary Tale



Perhaps one of the joyous childhood moments especially if you grew up in a village in Africa,

are storytime and in hearing tales about legends. Some of these true stories are tragic, some comic, but like the great fables, riddles and parables, each of them have a moral or lessons. So we share some of these tales in the hope of imbuing you with wisdom but also, in understanding what makes some African children grounded and value-oriented.

African parents bring up a child in order for the child to imbibe the cultural values of the tribe or community and also be a responsible adult. Some of these forms of parenting are through storytelling (folktales), the extended family, traditional rites and the parent's care, attention and love. Although, it's important to note that some of these morals that are embedded in African society may not work in other societies. For example, in western culture, it can be a total suicide. However, they are still worth sharing.

Because of the vast nature of the continent and with multiple tribes and cultural traditions many valuable tales are lost. However, once a while you get to come across them while reading, researching or listening to a talk or speech. And this tale is no different. So while listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer, he shares the following story originally taken from a book called “Contact, The First Four Minutes” by Leonard Sunin (now out of print), about the Babemba or Bemba tribe, who may be found in Zambia and the Congo. And so as the story goes...


The Babemba tribe of southern Africa has a social structure with an elementary disciplinary code. Their close community living makes harshness unnecessary. A visitor was deeply impressed by the tribe’s handling of delinquent behaviors, which are exceedingly infrequent. As you read following this cautionary tale, we hope you are imbued with wisdom.

“In the Babemba tribe, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he or she is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, the entire village gathers around the accused individual, then each person of every age begins to talk out loud to the accused. One at a time each person tells all the good things that the one in the center ever did in his or her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All positive attributes, good deeds strengths and acts of kindness are recited carefully and at length. No one is permitted to fabricate, to exaggerate or to be facetious about the accomplishments or the positive aspects of the accused person. The tribal ceremony often lasts several days, not ceasing until everyone is drained of every positive comment that can be mustered. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically welcomed back into the tribe. The necessity for such ceremonies is rare; it only occurs once in every 4 or 5 years.”


Such tales are rare to find but they evoke a sense of community and the practice of unconditional love. Some may look at it from various angles of perspective but when you let go of the need to be judgmental you see the beauty and wisdom of this tale. Remember that in Africa, it does take a village...

And here's a beautiful passage by the great Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. “ And now it was evening. And Almitra the seeress said, Blessed be this day and this place and your spirit that has spoken. And he answered, Was it I who spoke? Was I not also a listener?... You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link. This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link. To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of the ocean by the frailty of its foam. To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.”

― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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