What can a hippo teach us? | I am technology. #blog by Trey Warme, Charlotte, NC
What can an ancient Cote d’Ivoire proverb about a hippo teach us today?
I’ve been helping ?AgriSmart, Inc., a sustainable agriculture startup in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa with their social media and to establish their brand. This role has provided me an expansive opportunity to meet new people and learn about different cultures.
There is a French proverb from Cote d’Ivoire, « Deux hippopotames ne peut pas partager le même trou. », that translates to, “Two hippos cannot share the same hole.” I have yet to find the original meaning of this maxim to those credited with the adage, the Ivorians of Africa’s Ivory Coast.
What can a hippo teach us? What if this saying was popular speak today outside of Cote d’Ivoire and tribal African cultures? What could be applicable meanings of this aphorism today to our modern lives, relationships and business. I have pondered this saying for some time and offer two such possible interpretations below.
The first possible interpretation that comes to mind for me is, “Don’t let your ego ruin the possibility of enhancing a comfortable situation, the refreshing water hole on a warm summer day, by chasing away the company of another.” The water hole will likely be no less cooling with another sharing in your refreshment. Perhaps their company may enhance our pleasure with their personality, wit and charm, or even warn us of impending danger approaching we may not see. Ha, I’m not sure how much wit and charm a hippo has, but remember in this situation, you are both hippos! To keep things in perspective of two wild beasts, two sets of eyes widen our field of vision and will surely increase our chances of seeing the approaching lion. And, I imagine most of us grew up with our Mothers telling us to share. In leadership there is a saying something like, “it is the ultimate success of a leader to help create new leaders”, so why not be a leader, share the spoil and inspire others. There are also old Buddhist and Christian sayings along the lines of, “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” What does the water hole really lose with another sharing in the delight? So perhaps the saying is attempting to tell us to share our water hole. Don’t be like the hippo?
Don’t be like the hippo?
Another interpretation, taking the saying to mean perhaps the opposite could be, “Be big, have certainty about what you feel to be right, about your work, or what you feel is rightfully yours.” I have a harder time with this possible interpretation, however we are talking hippos not teddy bears, and the flip side also has a flip side. You, as a hippo, found this water hole first, right? Maybe there is a limited time before the dry season returns and the hole may actually dry up. A hippo is large and not easily hidden, working hard to survive in a land full of predators, including alligators, lions, and perhaps even more dangerously so those pesky human hunters, and this is your water hole. Or maybe the saying is telling us to be big for what you believe. So perhaps, be like the hippo?
Be like the hippo?
So, what can a hippo teach us? All life situations may provide opportunities for the possibility of transformation of self into new ways of thought and being serving our higher purpose, whatever that maybe for us. I could elaborate more on ideas supporting either interpretation, however I’d much rather hear what you think. Do you have a better interpretation of this fable that maybe more helpful? Are either of the provided possible interpretations spot on, or completely ludicrous? Let’s hear it in the comments below. Thank you!
Visit ?AgriSmart, Inc on the Web, Facebook and Twitter for more about a social impact investment opportunity with a growing international alliance of sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs in partnership with Society for Development of Forests (SODEFOR), a government agency in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa.
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