Great deeds, works of literature, chronicles of history-none of these reveals as much about a culture as its proverbs. Musical, direct, and truth-telling, proverbs express a way of seeing life. They sound the many and different voices of a people, revealing at the same time the uniqueness of a culture and its commonality with other cultures across the world and throughout history. In Africa, proverbs are the "cream of language," the panache of a rich and enduring oral tradition. And usually they have been made by men. As the men of Rwanda say, "No woman is called upon to speak...." It is scarcely surprising, then, that women appear in so many African proverbs as devils or burdens. Wives seem at best stupid or quarrelsome, at worst treacherous-though the Basari of Togo admit that "a stupid wife is better than a ruined house." In this completely unique and fascinating book, Mineke Schipper, internationally recognized authority on Third World literature, has assembled hundreds of proverbs and sayings on women, in almost eighty African languages, from the wise to the wisecracking, from the odd to the outrageous. The great and varied chorus seems at times alien but more often strangely familiar.