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A picture of two figures on either side of a broken plate.

Adistu ngwame.

Adistu ngwame.

"The plate is broken."

In the waning years of Rage Nasko's reign, the people of Ansenlas (the land of the Sathir) grew hungry, spiritually speaking, and looked everywhere for enlightenment. It was at the height of this period of religious fervor that an opportunist and self-styled anenthal named Ngalel came to the nation's attention. He happened one day to spy a youth carrying a very expensive decorative plate inlaid with gold and silver in the marketplace. He deftly brushed against the youth, causing him to drop the plate, which crashed to the ground, shattering into a thousand glimmering pieces. The youth was heart-broken, and wept bitter tears, saying that his father had ordered that plate specially for his wedding which was to take place later that night. Ngalel seized the opportunity to hop onto a nearby cart and speak to the crowd that had gathered. "Good people," he called out, "before you you see a broken plate, do you not?" The crowd nodded, grumbling and turning their attention towards Ngalel. "I must admit that I was like you once," he continued. "I would look upon that broken plate and see nothing but the shattered remains of a plate. But now, good people, I must confess that I see more—much more!"

The crowd stood in rapt amazement as Ngalel spoke for nearly two hours. He told them what he saw instead of a broken plate: a land free of pain and fear, with good food and fresh water in abundance, where everyone lived in a palace, and where there was no work to be done and nothing was wanting. Thus he spoke, without pause and with great emotion, until it was dark, at which time he fell silent. His audience waited patiently for him to speak again, and they were not disappointed: "This I have seen from a broken plate. Now that you have seen what I have seen, you should also see that these visions are the plate, and that, indeed, the plate is not broken at all." He paused, for dramatic effect, and an awed hush fell over the crowd. "I require rest, good people. Perhaps tomorrow I shall see more..." And, with great theatrically, he fainted. The crowd erupted, and rushed to his aid, fighting amongst themselves over who would have the honor of taking him home to feed and bathe him.

In the coming days, Ngalel went to the marketplace to speak every evening. To start him off, one of his new-found followers would bring a plate and drop it before his feet. Once the plate was broken, Ngalel would expound for an hour or two, and then faint away, at which point in time the crowd would chant, "The plate is not broken". He would then be carried off to someone's house to partake of their room and board. This daily ritual became so large that it came to the attention of Rage Nasko, who was greatly displeased by it. No man should be more revered than he, and so he decided to put an end to the silly practice once and for all.

One evening, Rage Nasko came to Ngalel's recitation with an extremely valuable plate from his palace. He walked up to Ngalel, who, despite himself, was taken by surprise. He composed himself, and said to the king, "Have you come to hear of the perfect land that awaits us?" In response, Rage Nasko threw his plate at the feet of Ngalel, and shouted, Adistu ngwame! Then, for good measure, he slapped Ngalel across the face, causing him to topple over into a fruit stand. Nasko spit on the unfortunate individual, turned around, and walked back to his palace. Ngalel's crowd of followers, which hadn't made a sound the whole time, quickly dispersed, and Ngalel was never heard from again.

Today, this izanyoža is used primarily as an insult in academic circles. Indeed, there is no worse oath that can be uttered to the proponent of a theory than Adistu ngwame. It's something akin to calling an opponent's argument "misguided" in the English-speaking world, though the history this izanyoža carries with it makes it far more vicious, and far more likely to earn one an enemy for life. As a result, the reader is advised to use discretion when uttering this particular izanyoža.

Vocabulary List

  • istu (v.) to be broken (in the present or past tense with a third person subject, it's adistu)
  • ngwame (n.) plate
  • Ansenlas (n.) name for the land in which the Sathir live

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