Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love opinion proverbs

Igbo (African) Proverbs

Hello there! This is a post on selected Igbo proverbs. I wrote in Igbo language, translated in English and then gave its meaning. I did a blog post on proverbs used in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe sometime ago. You can access it here. Have a great day!

1.

Igbo: Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe.

English: If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the foofoo before dipping it into the soup.

Meaning: One should learn to change tactics to suit a situation.

2.

Igbo: Onyeubiam adi(ghi) aza “Omeokachie.”

English: An indigent does not take the title of “Omeokachie” (i.e. one who completes whatever he puts his hand to)

Meaning: Don’t make false claims.

3.

Igbo: Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo, umuaka achiri ya hie nku.

English: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood.

Meaning: There are times when one defends ones capability.

4.

Igbo: Ukpana okpoko gburu nti chiri ya.

English: The grasshopper that is killed by a Crow is deaf.

Meaning: Once forewarned of danger, flee except one is deaf.

5.

Igbo: O na-abu akota ihe ka ubi, e lee oba.

English: Whilst farming, if one encounters what is bigger than the farm, one sells the barn.

Meaning: One who incurs what is beyond one’s ability may sell all one has.

6.

Igbo: Okirikiri k’ana gba ukwu ose, anaghi ari ya-elu

English: The pepper shrub is not climbed but circled.

Meaning: When faced with dicey situation, approach it with caution.

7.

Igbo: Egbe bere, Ugo bere, nke si ibe ya ebena nku kwaa ya

English: Let the eagle perch, let the kite perch; if one does not want the other to perch, may his wings break.

Meaning: Live and let live.

8.

Igbo: Ugo chara acha adi(ghi) echu echu

English: A mature eagle feather will ever remain pure.

Meaning: One well trained will stand the test of time.

9.

Igbo: Anaghi eji na aguu na-agu noo ukwara.

Meaning: No one swallows phlegm to appease the pangs of hunger.

10.

Igbo: E gbuo dike n’ogu uno, e ruo n’ogu agu e lote ya.

English: Kill a warrior during skirmishes at home, you will remember him when fighting enemies.

Meaning: Don’t destroy your leaders.

11.

Igbo: Aka a na-ana dike bu itube ya (abuba) ugo.

English: Appropriate handshake for the valiant is to cap him with an eagle feather.

Meaning: Noble deeds should be appreciated.

12.

Igbo: Oke soro ngwere ma mmiri, mmiri guoro ngwere agagi ako oke.

English: When a rat swims with a lizard, his hairs won’t dry as the lizards.

Don’t do what others are doing; you are not the same.

Meaning: We shouldn’t copy others just for the sake of copying. Every human has a distinct identity.

13.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na olu oha di mma, mana oriri oha na-aka ahu.

English: The tortoise said that many hands at work is enjoyable, but many mouths to feed can be embarrassing.

Meaning: It is not easy to feed many mouths.

14.

Igbo: Nkụ onye kpara n’ọkọchị ka ọna anya n’udu mmiri.

English: Ones actions today will determine his position in the future

Meaning: Good or bad, today’s acts may either come back to bless or to haunt.

15.

Igbo: Ngwere nile makpu àfọ n’ala, mana onweghị onye ma nke àfọ n’asa.

Meaning: Everybody in this world have one or two problems; it’s only our dressing that covers it.

16.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù mkweke, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

17.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na e jighi ehi kwa nne ya di na nso, mana a si ya wete na ya enweghi.

English: The (king) tortoise said it is an abomination not to conduct his mother’s funeral with a cow, but if asked to produce one he couldn’t afford it.

Meaning: Emphasizing the importance of the necessity of an object even though one cannot afford it.

18.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na nsogbu bu nke ya, ya jiri kworo ya n’azu

English: The tortoise said that trouble is its own; that’s why it carries trouble on its back

Meaning: One should try and shoulder one’s burdens and responsibilities.

19.

Igbo: Ada agwa ochi nti n’agha esula.

English: You don’t tell the deaf that war has broken out.

Meaning: Some things need not be announced, their occurrence stands as enough announcement.

20.

Igbo: Ukwa rue oge ya, o daa.

English: There’s time for everything.

Meaning: Things should be done when the time is right for them.

21.

Igbo: Udene na egbe anaghi azo nri: udene na-eri ozu; egbe na-ebu na nkike.
English: The vulture and the kite do not scramble for food: the vulture is a scavenger; the kite, a predator.

Meaning: Don’t demean yourself by competing below your level.

22.

Igbo: Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu.

English: Salute the deaf; if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will hear.

Meaning: Let’s endeavour to do right even if no one is watching.

23.

Igbo: Oboloko abughi aha ejiri luta nwanyi, kama obu aha onwu di guru ya.

English: Widow is not a woman’s maiden name, but it is as a result of her husband’s death.

Meaning: Nobody likes suffering, but it is always a bad circumstance that leads to it.

24.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù mkweke, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.