Skip to content

Okana Saying: You can't catch a hippopotamus with a cast net

With cast net you can not fish

They are sayings, beautiful exponents of a historical, traditional and identity symbolism. 

They come to our days as traces of the stories and customs from other parts of the world, which have been integrated into our culture as part of the roots of this land.

Fundamentally, those sayings that came with our African ancestors are full of psychological, cultural and religious teachings that guide Cubans, believers or not, in their daily lives.

The sayings derived from the life and religious customs of Africa have been incorporated into the literary and liturgical body of Osha-Ifa as a form of communication of Oshas and Orishas with religious devotees, so they serve as a basis for the priest-interpreter (babalawo) of the oracle for consultations.

Each proverb and its teaching are included in the Letters and Odun depending on whether the oracle of the Dilogun or the Ifá oracular sub-system is used, to teach or instruct the Yoruba on the spiritual path.

Says Okana: You must always be aware of its possibilities and limitations

The Okana Tonti Okana sign (1-1) says “With a cast net you cannot catch a hippopotamus”.

To analyze this saying and its teaching, we must first pay attention to the meaning of its words.

Meaning of both words:

  • Cast net, is a term that names a round net for fishing in shallow waters, which is thrown from light boats or on the beaches themselves, to catch small fish.
  • The hippo, For its part, it is a large mammal that habita in deep waters, and is the fifth largest land animal in the world. Its weight ranges between 1550 and 1800 kilos and its bite is considered the most powerful in the world.

As we can see, we could never catch an animal of such dimensions with a simple fishing net.

Meaning in life of this saying

“With a cast net you cannot catch a hippopotamus” is a saying that tells us the importance of staying at the level of our abilities, skills and limitations.

It is important to know that we cannot get down to work on any project if we do not have the elements to carry it out, because we will not be able to make it effective.

When we get involved in plans and objectives, the first thing we must take into account is if they are within our possibilities and if we have everything necessary for their realization, because we can get frustrated.


Although we want a new house, we must have a budget, land, construction materials, or the financial means to buy it, among other elements. The same that will facilitate the achievement of the project.

Therefore, in this case, if we still do not have these means, it would be prudent, logical and more appropriate to plan based on our possibilities, and set ourselves small goals that, in the long term, bring us closer to the final goal.

It is not about giving up and abandoning our dreams, but about being realistic and working with focus on our goals without trying to hoard more than we really can.

We share other ancestral proverbs of Ifá:

Most read content:

send this message
Hello, I need to consult me. Can you send me the information and the price of the Spiritual Consultations guided by an Espiritista Santera? Thank you. Ashe 🙏