Igbo: Ngwere nile makpu àfọ n’ala, mana onweghị onye ma nke àfọ n’asa. English: When lizards lay on the ground, no one knows those who have a runny stomach. Origin: This is an Eastern Nigerian proverb. Some fraction of the Igbo nation uses it. The agama lizard just like their reptilian brethren are quadruplets and […]
Igbo: Mmanù arîótara arîóta anaghî ezu ofe English: Borrowed palm oil can never be enough for soup Origin: This proverb originated from Southern Nigeria. It is an Igbo proverb. Palm oil (mmanù akwú in Igbo) is a standard cooking oil used in West Africa. In Nigeria’s Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Bini, and Ibibio land, it’s vital […]
Igbo: Agha adìghï eri nwa ngwōrō English: An informed cripple can never be consumed by war Origin: This is a southern Nigerian proverb from the Igbo ethnic group. Usually, when there’s a state of war, cripples suffer most as they find it difficult to escape the war zone. But when such a person is informed […]
When mother goat chews on the grass, her kids watch and learn A goat is generally known as an animal with a unique way of chewing the cud. The kids watch the mother goat as she chew grass and picks the peculiarities. In no time, they will start to chew grass like the mother. This […]
When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him – Ashanti proverb This excellent Ghanaian adage is self-explanatory. I’ll try to explain some salient points. Generally, it’s an African believe that a child who goes nearer to his father grow up acting and speaking like him. Indeed, this is […]
If you choose to make friends with a pig, you must be prepared to live in the mud. The kind of friends we keep affect us and sometimes we are not aware of this. The pig here represents a dirty animal that loves to wallow in the mud. This is an anglicised version of the […]
A smooth sea does not make a skillful sailor. Background: The proverb is originally from Namibia. Significance: Life is like the sea: sometimes we get a gentle sea. But a peaceful sea never made a great sailor. Parents who always shield their child from challenging situations will, in the end, have an idiot of a […]
Igbo: Ùda akùilu abùghí ùtō ya English: Bitter Cola doesn’t taste like its sound (literally). Background: Just like the name, bitter cola is a very bitter fruit! Sometimes I do wonder why it’s not called a ‘very bitter cola.’ Alongside the kola nut and garden egg, it is commonly used as a ‘welcome fruit’ in […]
There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts. Meaning: In Igbo land, it’s assumed that people who make a lot of noise are cowards. The principle of more action and less talk is the foundation of this proverb. The English version is the empty drum makes the loudest noise.
A tree is straightened while it is still young – Proverb from Burundi. Meaning: I chose to take this proverb in its literal form because it’s pretty evident that a fully grown tree can’t be transplanted or manipulated in any way. What I mean is that it’s not stressful to try to make a sapling […]
Igbo Proverb: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood. Origin: A snake is a dangerous reptile. Snake poison can kill an adult in minutes. In Africa, snake bites contribute to deaths. In Igbo land where this proverb originated from, snakes are not toyed with. In some […]
Be nice to everyone. You never know who your in-laws are going to be. We won’t know who can be of help tomorrow. Compassion and kindness are great virtues. It can open greater doors! Ponder on this and have a goodnight. 💕
Hello there! This is a post on selected Igbo proverbs. I wrote in the Igbo language, translated into English, and then gave its meaning. I did a blog post on sayings used in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe sometime ago. You can access it here. Have a great day! 1. Igbo: Nwaanyi […]
Onye aturu ilu kowaa ya, ego eji luo nne ya efuola ohia. Before I start this post permit me to greet Igbo people; those who own the proverbs I’m about to explore; Ndi Igbo kwenu! Ekelem unu o. Ndewonu. •Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on Igbo traditional Isi-agu attire INTRODUCTION: PROVERBS There are many definitions for proverbs […]
Consider this proverb from Ethiopia; The mouse is silent while laboring, but when the baby is conceived, she cries.
The moon and the stars are not above us, the Earth is on the other side of our feet. -Moroccan proverb
Here’s from Bahumba people of Congo: To engage in conflict, one does not bring a knife that cuts but a needle that sews.
This is a Bambara proverb: No matter how long a log stays in the water, it doesn’t become a crocodile.
Here is an interesting Akan tribe (Ghana) proverb: a rat says, what belongs to me, is in my stomach and not in my mouth. Explanation: True ownership of something needs no advertising.
We should put out fire while it is still small… Kenyan proverb. There’s an Igbo version for this proverb: Remove the Monkeys hand from soup pot before it turns to a man’s hand. Explanation: This proverb is the English version of nip it in the bud.
What do you make of this Ovambo saying? A Parasite can not live alone.
The bush in which one hides has eyes – Gusii Proverb. Explanation: There’s actually no hiding place for anyone.
Every Dog is a Lion in his own gate. -Ghanaian Proverb Explanation: This metaphorical statement translates to every man is King in his own house.
He who shows himself at every place will someday look for a place to hide. Explanation: Anyone who is always available to everyone will find it hard to keep a private life.