VISA NA MIKASA
Methali za kiswahili ---- Swahili proverbs
- Adhabu ya kaburi aijua maiti, The touture of the grave is only
known by the corpse
- Akiba haiozi, A reserve will not decay
- Asifuye mvuwa imemnyea. He who praises rain has been rained on.
- Akili nyingi huondowa maarifa. Great wit drives away wisdom
- Asiye kubali kushindwa si mshindani.He who does not admit defeat is not
- Atangaye na jua hujuwa. He wanders around by day a lot, learns a lot
- Asiye kuwapo na lake halipo.If you are absent you lose your share
- Avumaye baharini papa kumbe wengi wapo.Shark is the famous one in sea
the but they many others
- Baada ya dhiki faraja.After hardship comes relief.
- Baniani mbaya kiatu chake dawa.An evil Indian but his bussiness is
- Bendera hufuata upepo. A flag follows the direction of the wind.
- Bilisi wa mtu ni mtu.The evil spirit of a man is a man.
- Chamlevi huliwa na mgema.The drunkard's money is being consumed by
- Chanda chema huvikwa pete.A handsome finger gets the ring.
- Chombo cha kuzama hakina usukani. A sinking vessel needs no navigation.
- Chovya - chovya yamaliza buyu la asali. Constant dipping will empty
goud of honey
- Dalili ya mvua mawingu. Clouds are the sign of rain
- Damu nzito kuliko maji.Blood is thicker than water
- Dawa ya moto ni moto. the remedy of fire is fire
- Dua la kuku halimpati mwewe.the curse of the fowl does not bother the
- Fadhila ya punda ni mateke. Gratitude of a donkey is a kick.
- Fimbo ya mbali hayiuwi nyoka. A wepon which you don't have in hand wont
kill a snake.
- Fuata nyuki ule asali.Follow bees and you will get honey
- Fumbo mfumbe mjinga mwerevu huligangua.Put a riddle to a fool a clever
person will solve it
- Ganda la mua la jana chungu kaona kivuno.The skin of yesteday's
sugarcane is a havest to an ant.
- Haba na haba hujaza kibaba.Little by little fills up the measure.
- Hapana marefu yasio na mwisho.They is no distance that has no end.
- Hakuna siri ya watu wawili.They is no secret between two people.
- Haraka haraka haina baraka.Hurry hurry has no blessings
- Hasira, hasara.Anger brings loss(Damage)
- Heri kufa macho kuliko kufa moyo.It is better to lose your eyes than to
lose your heart.
- Heri kujikwa kidole kuliko ulimi.Better to stumble with toe than
- Hiari ya shinda utumwa.Voluntary is better than force.
- Hucheka kovu asiye kuwa na jeraha.He laughs at scar who has received no
- Ihsani (hisani)haiozi.Kindness does not go rotten.
- Ikiwa hujui kufa,tazama kaburi.If you don't know death look at the
- Jina jema hungara gizani.A good name shines in the dark.
- Jino la pembe si dawa ya pengo.An ivory tooth is not cure for the lost
- Jitihadi haiondoi kudura. Effort will not counter faith.
- Jogoo la shamba haliwiki mjini. The village cock does not crow in town.
- Kafiri akufaye si Isilamu asiyekufa.An infidel who does you good turn
is not like a Muslim who does not
- Kamba hukatika pabovu. A rope parts where it is thinnest.
- Kanga hazai ugenini.A guine- fowl not lay eggs on strange places
- Kawaida ni kama sheria.Usage is like law
- Kawia ufike.Better delay and get there.
- Kazi mbaya siyo mchezo mwema.A bad job is not as wothless as a good
- Kelele za mlango haziniwasi usingizi.The creaking of the door deprives
me of no sleep.
- Kenda karibu na kumi.Nine is near ten.
- Kiburi si maungwana.Arrogance is not gentlemanly.
- Kichango kuchangizana.Everyone should contribute when collection is
- Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa.One finger canot kill a louse.
- Kingiacho mjini si haramu.That is fashionable in town is never
- Kikulacho ki nguoni mwako.That which eats you up is in your clothing.
- Kila chombo kwa wimblile.Every vessel has its own waves
- Kila mlango na ufunguwo wake.Every door with its own key
- Kila mtoto na koja lake.To every child his own neck ornament
- Kila mwamba ngoma ,ngozi huivuta kwake.Every who streches a skin on a
drum,pulls the skin own his own side.
- Kila ndege huruka na mbawa zake.Every bird flies with its own wings.
- Kilio huanza mfiwa ndipo wa mbali wakaingia.The beareved begins the
wailing latter others join.
- Kimya kingi kina mshindo mkubwa.Along silence followed by mighty noise.
- Kinga na kinga ndipo moto uwakapo.One fire brand after another keeps
- Kinyozi hajinyoi.A barber does not shave himself.
- Kinywa ni jumba la maneno.Mouth is the home of words.
- Kipendacho moyo ni dawa.What the heart desires is medicine to it.
- Kipya kinyemi ingawa kidonda. A new thing is a souce of joy even if is
- Kisebusebu na roho kipapo.Refusing and wanting at the same time.
- Kisokula mlimwengu,sera nale.what is not eaten by a man,let the devil
- Kitanda usicho kilala hujui kunguni wake.You canot know the bugs of a
bed that you have not lain on.
- Kivuli cha fimbo hakimfichi mtu jua.Shadow of a stick canot protect one
from the sun.
- Kiwi cha yule ni chema cha;hata ulimwengu uwishe. The blindnes of that
one is his good fortune
- Kizuri chajiuza kibaya chajitembeza.A good thing sells it self a bad
one advertises it self
- Konzo ya maji haifumbatiki. A handfull of water can not be grasped.
- Kosa moja haliachi mke.One fault does not warrant divorce of a wife
- Kozi mwandada ,kulala na njaa kupenda.A goshawk is an egg child,if
sleeps hungry its his own fault.
- Kuagiza kufyekeza. ie One eye of a master sees more than four of a
- Kuambizana kuko kusikilizana hapana.Giving advice but no one listens.
- Kucha M'ngu si kilemba cheupe.The fear of God is not wearing a white
- Kuchamba kwingi,kuondoka na mavi.Leave well alone! You wont improve
matters by going on tinkering
- Kufa kufaana.Death has its advantages too ie it benifits those who
- Kufa kwa jamaa, harusi.The death of not a relative is a
wedding.Compared to a death of a relative
- Kufa kwa mdomo,mate hutawanyika.When the head of the family dies,that
family breaks up.
- Kuishi kwingi ni kuona mengi. To live long is to see much.
- Kujikwa si kuanguka,bali ni kwenda mbele.To stumble is not falling down
but it is to go forward.
- Kukopa harusi kulipa matanga.Borrowing is like a wedding ,repaying is
- Kuku havunji yai lake.A hen does not break her own eggs.
- Kuku mgeni hakosi kamba mguuni.A new fowl always has string around its
- Kula kutamu ,kulima mavune.Eating is sweet ,digging is weariness.
- Kulea mimba si kazi kazi kulea mwana.It is not hard to nurse a
pregnency,but it is hard to bring up a child.
- Kunako matanga kume kufa mtu.Where they is mourning someone has died.
- Kunguru mwoga hukimbiza mbawa zake.The timid crow withdraws his wings
- Kupanda mchongoma ,kushuka ngoma.You may climb a thorn tree,and be
unable to come down.
- Kupoteya njia ndiyo kujua njia.To get lost is to learn the way.
- Kutoa ni moyo usambe ni utajiri.Charity is the matter of the heart not
of the pocket.
- Kutu kuu ni la mgeni.Old rust is for the stranger.
- Kuzima koleo si mwisho wa uhunzi.Cooling the tongs is not end of
- Kwa mwoga huenda kicheko na kwa shujaa huenda kilio.i.e.timidity often
ends in a laugh, bravado in a lament.
- Kwenda mbio siyo kufika.To run is not neccessarily to arrive.
- Kwenye miti hakuna wajenzi.Where there trees,there are no builders.
- La kuvunda(kuvunja) halina rubani. A vessel running agroud has no
- La kuvunda (kuvunja)halina ubani.They is no incence for something
- Lake mtu halimtapishi bali humchefusha.One's foul smelling does not
sicken one self but merely disguts one.
- Leo ni leo asemayo kesho ni mwongo.Today is today who says tommorrow is
- Liandikwalo ndiyo liwalo.That which is written by God is what is.
- Lila na fila hazitangamani.Good and evil will never mix.
- Lipitalo ,hupishwa .Things dont just happen by accidents
- Lisemwalo lipo,ikiwa halipo laja.What is benig talked about is here,and
if its not it's comming around behind.
- Lisilokuwapo moyoni,halipo machoni.Out of sight out of mind.
- Maafuu hapatilizwi.You dont take viengeance on silliness.
- Macho hayana pazia.Eyes have no screens,they see all that is within
- Mafahali wawili hawakai zizi moja.Two bulls do not live in the same
- Maiti haulizwi sanda.A dead person is not asked for a shroud.
- Maji hufuata mkondo.water follows current.i.e.swim with current.
- Maji huteremka bondeni,hayapandi mlima.Water flows down the valley does
not climb the hill.
- Maji ukiyavuliya nguo huna budi kuyaogelea.If you take of your clothes
for water you must bathe.
- Maji usiyoyafika hujui wingi wake.You can not know the extent of water
in a pond that you have never been to.
- Maji ya kifufu ni bahari ya chungu.Water in a coconut shell is like an
ocean to an ant.
- Maji yakija hupwa.When tide is high,it ebbs.
- Mpanda ngazi hushuka.He who climbs a ladder comes down again.i.e.What
goes up must come down
- Maji yakimwagika hayazoleki.If water is split,it can not be gathered
- Majumba makubwa husitiri mambo.Big houses conceal a lot.
- Majuto ni mjukuu.Regrets are like a child,They come some considerable
time after event.
- Manahodha wengi chombo huenda mrama.With many captains,the ship does
not sail properly.i.e.Too many cooks spoil the broth.
- Maneno makali hayavunji mfupa.Words alone wont break bones.
- Maneno mema hutowa nyoka pangoni.Pleasent words will draw the snake
from its hole.
- Masikini akipata matako hulia mbwata.When a poor man gets something he
boasts of his new wealth.
- Masikini haokoti,akiokota huambiwa kaiba.A poor man does not pick up
things if does they say he stole them.
- Masikini na mwanawe tajiri na mali yake.A por man with his child a rich
man with his wealth.
- Mavi usioyala,wayawingiani kuku? Why drive away fowls from the dung you
do not eat yourself?
- Mavi ya kale hayanuki.Old droppings do not stink.
- Mbinu hufuata mwendo.A double jointed arm follows the leg action.i.e
Like father like son.
- Mbio za sakafuni huishia ukingoni.Running on the roof finishes at the
- Mbiu za mgambo ikilia kuna jambo.When an oxhorn of a news man is
sounded,something is wrong.
- Mchagua jembe si mkulima.One who selects his hoe is not real farmer.
- Mchagua nazi hupata koroma.He who selects coconut with great care ends
up getting a bad coconut
- Mchakacho ujao,halulengwi na jiwe.You dont throw stones at an
approching craclin noise in the bush wait and see what is it first
- Mchama ago hanyeli,huenda akauya papo.A traveller does not make a mess
where he had made a camp as he might one day come back.
- Mchelea mwana kulia hulia yeye..He who fears the crying of a child,will
- Mchele moja mapishi mengi. Rice is all one but they are many ways of
- Mcheka kilema hafi bila kumpata.He who laughs at a cripple will not die
without becoming himself
- Mcheza hawi kiwete,ngoma yataka matao.A dancer will not become crippled
for dancing calls for grace.
- Mcheza kwao hutuzwa.He who dances at home will be rewarded.
- Mcheza na tope humrukia.He who plays with mud will get splashed.
- Mchezea zuri ,baya humfika.He who ridicules the good will be overtaken
- Mchimba kisima hungia mwenyewe.He who digs a pit will fall into it
- Mchonga mwiko hukimbiza mkono wake.The maker of wooden spoons saves his
hand from fire.
- Mchovya asali hachovi mara moja.He who dips his finger into honey does
not dip it once.
- Mchuma janga hula na wakwao.He who earns calamity,eats it with his
- Mchumia juani,hula kivulini.He who earns his living in the sun,eats in
- Mdharau biu,hubiuka yeye.He who riducules a deformed person becomes
- Meno ya mbwa hayaumani.The teeth of a dog do not lock together.i.e
brothers do not harm one another when they fight.
- Mfa maji hukamata maji.A drowning man catches at the water.
- Mficha uchi hazai.One who hides private parts wont get a child.
- Mfinyazi hulia gaeni.A potter eats from a potsherd.
- Mfuata nyuki hakosi asali.One follows bees will never fail to get
- Mfukuzwa kwao hana pakwenda.He who is expled from home has no where to
- Mgaagaa na upwa hali wali mkavu.A lazy person with a nephwe does not
eat dry rice.
- Mganga hajigangui.A witchdoctor does not cure himself.
- Mgema akisifiwa tembo hulitia maji.If the palmwine tapper is praised,he
dilutes the palm-wine with water.
- Mgeni ni kuku mweupe.A stranger is like a white fowl (noticeble)
- Mgeni njoo mwenyeji apone.Let the guest come so that the host may
- Mgonjwa haulizwi uji.A sick person is not asked for porridje.
- Miye nyumba ya udongo ,sihimili vishindo I am a mud hut, I can not
- Mjinga akierevuka mwerevu yupo mashakani.When a fool becomes
enlightened,the wise man is in trouble.
- Mjumbe hauawi.A messenger is not killed
- Mkamatwa na ngozi ndiye mwizi.The one who is caught with the skin is
- Mkamia maji hayanywi.He who fixes his mind much on water ends up not
- Mkata (masikini) hana kinyongo.A poor man has no contempt.
- Mke ni nguo ,mgomba kupalilia.A wife is like clothes and banana plant
- Mkono moja hauchinji ngombe.A single hand can not slaughter a cow.
- Mkono moja haulei mwana.A single hand can not nurse a child.
- Mkono mtupu haulambwi.An empty hand is not licked.
- Mkono usioweza kuukata,ubusu.Kiss the hand you can not cut.
- Mkosa kitoweo humangiria.One who has little relish must eat sparingly.
- Mkuki kwa nguruwe mtamu,kwa mwanadamu uchungu.Its nice throw a spear to
a pig,but painful when thrown to you.
- Mkulima ni mmoja walaji ni wengi.The farmer is one but those who eat
fruits of his labour are many.
- Mla cha mwenziwe na chake huliwa.He who eats another mans food will
have his own food eaten by others.
- Mla cha uchungu na tamu hakosi.He who eats bitter things gets sweet
- Mla kuku wa mwenziwe miguu humwelekeya.He who devours his neighbour's
fowl,its foot prints will give him away.
- Mla mbuzi hulipa ngombe.The eater of a goat pays back a cow.
- Mla mla leo mla jana kala nini?The real eater is todays eater not
- Mla nawe hafi nawe ila mzaliwa nawe.He who eats with you will not die
with you except he who was born with you.
- Mlenga jiwe kundini hajui limpataye.He who who flings a stone amid a
crowd,does not know the it hits.
- Mlimbua nchi ni mwananchi.He who enjoys the first fruit of a country is
son of that country.
- Mnyamaa kadumbu.One who keeps silent,endures.
- mnywa maji kwa mkono moja,Kiu yake i pale pale.He who drinks water with
one hand finds out his thirst is still there.
- Moja shika,si kumi nenda urudi.Take one,not that you may return with
- Moto hauzai moto.Fire does not beget fire in the end it begets ashes.
- Mpanda farasi wawili hupasuka msamba.One who rides two horses at once
will split asunder.
- Mpanda ovyo hula ovyo.He who sows disorderly fashion will eat likewise.
- Mpemba akipata gogo hanyii chini.If a native of pemba can get a log he
does not relive himself on the ground.ie nothing but the best
- Mpemba hakimbii mvua ndogo.A native of Pemba does not run away fro a
- Mpiga ngumi ukuta huumiza mkonowe. He who fights with a wall will only
hurt his hand.
- Mpofuka ukongweni,hapotewi na njia.He who becomes blind in his old age
does not lose his way.
- Msafiri masikini ajapokuwa sultani.A traveller is poor,even though he
being a ruler.
- Msasi haogopi mwiba.A hunter is not afraid of thorns.
- Msema pweke hakosi.One who talks to himself can not be wrong.Ie no one
to correct him.
- Mshale kwenda msituni haukupotea.If an arrow goes into a forest it is
- Mshoni hachagui nguo.A tailor does not select his cloth.
- Msitukane wagema na ulevi ungalipo.Do not abuse palm-wine tappers while
- Msitukane wakunga na uzazi ungalipo.Do not abuse midwives while
- Mstahimilivu hula mbivu.A patient man will eat ripe fruits.
- Mtaka cha mvunguni sharti ainame.He who requires what is under the bed
must bend for it.
- Mtaka nyingi nasaba hupata mwingi msiba.He who boasts of his ancestry
unduly will bring plenty of trouble upon himself.
- Mtaka unda haneni.He who desires to make something does not announce
his intentions ,just turns them into actions.
- Mtaka yote hukosa yote.He who desires all,misses all
- Mtegemea nundu haachi kunona.He who likes to eat cows hump will not
fail to grow fat.
- Mtembezi hula miguu yake.An aimless wanderer wears away his legs.
- mteuzi hashi tamaa.A connoisseur never comes to the end of desire.
- Mti hauwendi ila kwa nyenzo.A log can not move save by the help of
- Mtondoo haufi maji.An old man always keeps something in reserve.
- Mtoto akililia wembe mpe.When a child cries for a razor give it him.i.e.
Let him learn by experience.
- Mtoto umleyavyo ndivyo akuavyo.As you bring up a child ,so he will be.
- Mtoto wa nyoka ni nyoka.The child of a snake is a snake.
- Mtu hakatai mwito,hukata aitwalo.A person does not objects to being
called, he objects to what he is called for.
- Mtu hujikuna ajipatiapo.A person scratches himself where his hand can
- Mtu huulizwa amevaani ,haulizwi amekulani.A person is asked about his
dress not what he has eaten.
- Mtumai cha ndugu hufa masikini.One who always depends on his brother
will die poor.
- Mtumi wa kunga haambiwi maana.The carrier of a secret message is not
told its meaning.
- Mtumikie kafiri upate mradi wako.Serve even an unbeliever to attain
your own ends.
- Mtupa jongoo hutupa na mti wake.If you throw a millipede you should throw
away the stick you picked it up with
- Mume wa mama ni baba.A husband of a mother is a father
- Mungu hamfichi mnafiki.God does not concell a(hypocrite) liar.
- Mvumbika changa hula mbovu.One who stores half grown fruit eats it
- Mvungu mkeka.The space under the bed is like a mat.
- Mvunja nchi ni mwananchi.The destroyer of a country is a citizen of
- Mvuvi ajuwa pweza alipo.A fisheman knows where to look for an octopus.
- Mwacha asili ni mtumwa.He who renounces his ancestrey is like a slave.
- Mwamba na wako hukutuma umwambiye.He who spekes ill of someone close to
you in your presence sends you to tell him so.
- Mwamini Mungu si mtovu.He who trusts in God lacks nothing.
- Mwana mkaidi hafaidi mpaka siku ya idi.An obstinete child does not
suffer save on the day of festival.
- Mwana maji wa kwale kufa maji mazowea.To a seamen of Kwale,death by
water is common experience.
- Mwana mkuwa nawe ni mwenzio kama wewe.The child who grows up with you
is your fellow.
- Mwana wa kuku hafunzwi kuchakura.A chick is not taught how to scratch
up the ground.
- Mwana simba ni simba.The child of lion is a lion.
- Mwanga mpe mtoto kulea.Give a wizard a child to bring up.
- Mwangaza mbili moja humponyoka.He who is after two things at the same
time,one will surely escape him
- Mwanzo kokochi mwisho nazi.The begining is bud the end is coconut.
- Mwanzo wa chanzo ni chane mbili.The begining of a mat-making is two
slips of raffia leaf.
- Mwanzo wa ngoma ni lele.The begining of a dance is" lele"
i.e.just one man singing hu lalaaaa.
- Mwapiza la nje hupata la ndani.One who curses someone in public,brings
it on himself in private.
- Mwekaji kisasi haambiwi mwerevu.He who nurses vegeance is not called
- Mwenda bure si mkaa bure,huenda akaokota.One who walks with no reason
is not like one who sits without reason,the one who walks might pick up
- Mwenda mbio hujikwa kidole.A person who is in too much of a hurry stubs
- Mwenda tezi na omo marejeo ngamani.He who goes to the quarterdeck and
forecastle will return to the hold eventualy.
- Mwenye kelele hana neno.A noisy person is harmless.
- Mwenye kovu usidhani kapowa.One with a scar,do not think him healed.
- Mwenye kubebwa hujikaza.He who is carried on the back must cling on.
- Mwenye kuchinja hachelei kuchuna.He who slaughters a beast does not
hesitate about skinning it
- Mwenye kuumwa na nyoka akiona jani hushtuka.One who has been bitten by
a snake,when he sees grass he he gets afraid.i.e.Once bitten twice shy.
- Mwenye macho haambiwi tazama.One who has eyes is not told to look(he
does it himself)
- Mwenye nguvu mpishe. Let a strong man pass
- Mwenye njaa hana miiko. A hungry man observes no taboos.
- Mwenye pupa hadiriki kula tamu. A hasty person misses the sweet things
(because he cannot wait for the fruit to ripen).
- Mwenye shibe hamjui mwenye njaa. A satisfied person does not know the
hungry man. cf. He that is warm thinks that all are so.
- Mwenye shoka hakosi kuni. He who has an axe does not lack firewood.
- Mwenye tumbo ni tumbole, angafunga mkaja. She who is pregnant, is
pregnant-even though she wrap herself in an 'mkaja' (i.e you don't achieve
something by merely pretending you have achieved it.) (Mkaja is the cloth a
woman wears round her stomach after giving birth).
- Mwenzako akinyolewa wewe tia maji. When your Companion is being shaved,
put water (on your head). ('Be prepared-eg. when you see a neighbouring
country being invaded prepare to face the same situation yourself) cf. When
your neighbour's house is on fire, take care of your own.
- Mwibaji na watwana, mlifi ni mwungwana. A thief is a rogue but the one
who repays is a gentleman
- Mwili wa mwenzio ni kando ya mwilio. Your companion's body is beside
(i.e. not a part of) your body.
- Mwizi hushikwa na mwizi mwenziwe. A thief is caught by his fellow
thief. cf. Set a thief to catch a thief.
- Mwomba chumvi huombea chunguche. He who asks for salt does so for his
own cooking pot
- Mwosha hadhuru maiti. The washer of corpses does no harm to the dead.
- Mwosha huoshwa.The corpse-washer is washed (in his turn). Cf. Tit for
- Mwosha husitiri maiti.The washer conceals the corpse (i.e gives nothing
- Mzaha,mzaha, hutumbuka usaha. Joke, joke, discharges pus (i.e. do not
dismiss even a small scratch as if it were only a joke-it may go bad) cf. A
stitch in time saves nine.
- Mzazi haachi ujusi. One who gives birth cannot avoid (ritual)
- Mzigo Wa mwenzio ni kanda Ia usufi. Your companion's burden is (no more
than) a load of kapok (to you). cf. The burden is light on the shoulder of
- Mzika pembe ndiye mzua pembe.The one who buries ivory is the one to dig
- Mzowea kutwaa, kutoa ni vita. (For him) who is accustomed to taking
giving away is a battle.
- Mzowea kunyonga, kuchinja hawezi. He who is used to strangle, cannot
- Mzungu Wa kula hafundishwi mwana. The process of eating is not taught
to a child.
- Nahodha wengi, chombo huenda mrama. Too many captains (and) the ship
rolls. cf. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
- Natuone ndipo twambe, kusikia Si kuona. Let us see then tell; hearing
is not seeing cf. Seeing is believing.
- Nazi mbovu harabu ya nzima. A rotten coconut in a heap spoils the
wholesome ones. cf. A rotten apple spoils its neighbours. cf. A sickly sheep
infects the whole flock.
- Ndege mjanja hunaswa na tundu bovu, An artful bird can be trapped in a
- Ndege mwigo hana mazowea. A bird that imitates others does not get used
to a place.
- Ndugu chungu, jirani mkungu. (Alt. Ndugu kitu.... .) A brother is (as
useful as) a cooking pot, and a neighbour is (as useful as) a cooking pot
- Ndugu mwui afadhali kuwa naye. A bad brother is far better than no
brother. cf. Blood is thicker than water.
- Ndugu wakigombana, chukua jembe ukalime, wakipatana chukua kikapu ukavune.
When brothers quarrel, take a hoe and go and dig; and when they make it
up, take a basket and patter the crop (i.e. never interfere with a dispute
between brothers except to fly and settle it amicably).
- Ngoja! ngoja? huumiza matumbo. Wait a minute! wait a minute! harms the
- Ngoma ivumayo haidumu. A noisy drumming does not last long.
- Ngoma ivumayo haikawii kupasuka. A drum that is sounded loudly will
soon split cf. A pitcher that often goes to the well, is broken at last.
- Ngozi ivute ili maji.Stretch hide while it is still green. cf. Strike
while the iron is hot.
- Nia njema ni tabibu, nia mbaya huharibu. A good purpose is like a
doctor (it heals or keeps you well) and evil purpose corrupts.
- Nifae na mvua nikufae na jua. Do me a favour during a rainy season and
I shall do the same to you during the dry season.
- Nimekula asali udogoni, utamu ungali gegoni. I ate honey in my
childhood, and its sweetness is still in my tooth.
- Nimekupaka wanja, wewe wanipaka pilipili. I have anointed you with
kohl, do you, in return, anoint me with pepper?
- Njia ya mwongo fupi.The way of a liar is short (i.e. he soon comes to
- Njia ya siku zote haina alama. A regular path has no signpost. cf. A used
key is always bright.
- Ng'ombe avunjikapo guu hurejea zizini. When a bull gets his leg broken,
he is sure to go back to his yard.
- Ng'ombe haelemewi na nunduye. A cow is not oppressed by its own hump.
- Nta Si asali; nalikuwa nazo Si uchunga. Wax is not honey; 'I had them'
(i.e. cattle) is not herding.
- Nyani haoni kundule, huliona la mwenziwe. The ape does not see his own
backside, he Sees his companion's.
- Nyimbo ya kufunzwa haikeshi ngoma. Songs learnt from outside sources
(foreign importations) are not used at a dance so long.
- Nyumba usiyolala ndani huijui ila yake. You cannot know the defects of
a house you have not slept in. Cf. It is the wearer who knows where the shoe
- Nyumba ya udongo haihimili vishindo. A mud hut cannot withstand great
- Nzi kufa juu ya kidonda Si haramu. For a fly to die on an ulcer is not
bad (after all, he got what he wanted).
- Pabaya pako Si pema pa mwenzako. Your own bad place is far better (so
far as you are concerned) than your companion's place (which will do you no
- Padogo pako Si pakubwa pa mwenzako. Your own small place is not like a
big place of your companion. cf. A poor thing but mine own.
- Painamapo ndipo painukapo. Where it slopes down is where it slopes up.
- Paka akiondoka, panya hutawala. when the cat goes away, mice reign. cf.
When the cat's away, the mice do play.
- Paka hakubali kulala chali. A cat can never he made to lie on its back.
- Paka wa nyumba haingwa. A cat belonging to the house is not chased
- Panapo wengi hapaharibiki neno. Where there are many, nothing goes
wrong. (A council of many people ensures that things are kept on the right
tines.) cf. Many hands make light work.
- Papo kwa papo kamba hukata jiwe. Constant rubbing of a rope will cut a
stone. cf. Constant dripping wears away a stone.
- Pele hupewa msi kucha. Scabics are given to him who has no fingernails
(i.e. who cannot scratch himself).
- Pema usijapo pema; ukipema Si pema tena. A good place you don't go to
is a good place: if you go too often, it isn't a good place any longer. cf.
Familiarity brings contempt; or, Outstay one's welcome.
- Penye kuku wengi hapamwagwi mtama. Where there are many fowls, millet
is not scattered (i.e. it is not advisable to disclose a secret in the
presence of a number of people).
- Penye mafundi, hapakosi wanafunzi. Where there are experts there will
be no lack ot learners.
- Penye mbaya wako, hapakosi mwema wako/na mwema wako hakosi. Where you
have an enemy, you will also surely arid a friend.
- Penye miti hakuna wajenzi. Where there are plenty of trees there are no
- Penye nia ipo njia. Where there's a will there's a way.
- Penye urembo ndipo penye urimbo. Where there is finery, there lies the
snare (Lit: birdlime).
- Penye wazee haliharibiki neno. Where there are old people, nothing goes
- Penye wengi pana mengi. Where there are many (present) there is much
- Penye wengi pana Mungu. Where there are many people, there God is
- Pilipili usozila zakuwashiani? How can you be burnt by chilies which
you have not eaten?
- Pofu hasahau mkongoja wake. A blind person does not forget his walking
- Pwagu hupata pwaguzi. A thief finds another one (who is a bigger and
better thief than he is). Cf. When Greek meets Greek.
- Radhi ni bora kuliko mali Blessings are better than wealth,
- Sahani iliyofunikwa, kilichomo kimesitirika. When a plate is covered,
its contents are hidden.
- Samaki mmoja akioza, huoza wote. If one fish rots, they all rot. cf. A
rotten apple spoils its neighbours. A sickly sheep infects the whole flock.
- Shika! Shika! na mwenyewe nyuma. Hold him! Hold him! and you yourself
after him (i.e. you shouldn't expect others to do all the work).
- Shimo Ia ulimi mkono haufutiki. A pit of (dug by) the tongue cannot be
covered up by the hand (words are more dangerous). Cf. The pen is mightier
than the sword.
- Shoka lisilo mpini halichanji kuni. An axe with rio handle does not
- Si kila mwenye makucha huwa simba. Not all that have claws are lions.
cf All that glitters is not gold.
- Sikio halilali na njaa. An ear dots not go to bed hungry (there's
always plenty of gossip).
- Sikio halipwani kichwa. Alt: Sikio halipiti kichwa. The ear does not
surpass the head.
- Sikio Ia kufa halisikii dawa. A dying ear does not feel the medicine.
- Siku njema huonekana asubuhi. A good day becomes evident in the
- Siku utakayokwenda uchi, ndiyo siku utakayokutana na mkweo. The day you
go naked, is the day you will meet your father/mother.in-law.
- Simba mwenda kimya(pole) ndiye mla nyama. The lion which moves silently
is the one that eats meat.
- Simbiko haisimbuki ila kwa msukosuko. A thing that is firmly fixed
cannot be dislodged except with much trouble.
- Sitafuga ndwele na waganga tele. I shall not suffer illness while
- Subira ni ufunguo Wa faraja. Patience is the key to tranquility.
- Subira yavuta heri, huleta kilicho mbali. Patience attracts happiness;
it brings near that which is far.
- Sumu ya neno ni neno. The poison for a word is a word. cf. Tit for tat.
- Tamaa mbele, mauti nyuma. Desire first, death afterwards, (i.e. 'No one
ever thinks of the possibIlity of death when concentrating on achieving a
- Taratibu ndiyo mwendo. Slowly is indeed the way to walk. Cf. He
that goes slowly goes surely, or, Hasten slowly. or, Slow but sure.
- Teke Ia kuku halimwumizi mwanawe A hen's kick does not hurt her chick.
- Tonga si tuwi The juice of an Immature coconut Is not like the real
- Ucheshi wa mtoto ni anga Ia nyumba. The laughter of a child lights up
- Uchungu wa mwana, aujua mzazi. The Iabour of childbirth is known to the
- Udongo uwahi ungali maji Work the clay while it is still wet Cf. Strike
while the iron is hot
- Udugu wa nazi hukutania chunguni The brotherhood of coconuts is a
meeting in the cook- in pot (said of people who do not cooperate until it is
- Ukenda kwa wenye chongo, vunja lako jicho. When you go among one-eyed
people, put out your own eye. Cf. Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to
be wise, or, When in Rome, do as the Romans do (?).
- Ukiona kwako kunaungua kwa mwenzako kunateketea. If you find your own
house is on fire, you may be sure that your neighbour's house is burning
much more fiercely.
- Ukiona neno, usiposema neno, hutapatikana na neno. If you see something
and say nothing, you will have nothing to suffer for. Cf. Mind your own
business, or, Hear all, see all, say nothing.
- Ukiona vinaelea, vimeundwa. If you see vessels afloat, remember that
they have had to be built.
- Ukiona zinduna, ambari iko nyuma. If you see amber, ambergis is (not
far) behind, (i.e. Where there is a jealous husband, there will be jealous
wife). (Sauce for the goose . . .?)
- Ukipewa shibiri usichukue pima. If you are offered a span, do not take
a couple of yards. Cf. Give him an inch and he will take an ell.
- Ukupigao ndio ukufunzao. What beats you is what teaches you. Cf. Spare
the rod and spoil the child.
- Ukistaajabu ya Mussa utaona ya Firauni. If you are astonished at Moses'
deeds, you will be more astonished at Pharaoh's. Not-Moses declared himself
to he a prophet, but Pharaoh declared himself to be God.
- Ukitaja nyoka, shika fimbo mkononi. When you mention a snake, have a
stick ready in your hand. Talk of the devil, and you'll hear the rustle of
- . Ukitaka kula nguruwe, chagua aliyeno,na. If you want to eat pig,
choose one which is fat. Cf. As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
(Muslims are forbidden pork).
- Ukitaka uzuri sharti udhurike. If you want beauty, you must (first) be
- Ukuukuu wa kamba Si upya wa ukambaa. A well-worn coir-rope is better
than a new rope made from raffia.
- Ulimi hauna mfupa. A tongue has no bone (i.e. it can get round
anything, both literally and metaphorically).
- Ulimi unauma kuliko meno. The tongue hurts more than the teeth.
- Ulipendalo hupati, hupata ujaliwalo. You will not necessarily get what
you desire, you will get what is appointed you (by God). Cf. Man proposes,
- Ulivyoligema utalinywa. As you tapped it (palm-wine) you will (have to)
drink. Cf. As you sow, so shall you reap, or, You have made your bed and now
you must lie on it.
- Umejigeuza pweza, unajipalia makaa? Have you changed into a cuttle-fish,
(that) you heap live embers on yourself?
- Umekuwa bata akili kwa watoto? Are you a duck (that) your mind is with
- Umekuwa jeta hubanduki? Are you a Jeta, (that) you do not move?
- Umekuwa nguva, huhimili kishindo? Are you a dugong, (that) you cannot
bear a wound?
- Unamlaumu mwewe, kipanga yuwesha kuku. You are blaming the hawk,
(while) the falcon is killing the chickens.
- Ungalijua alacho nyuki, usingalionja asali. Had you known what bees
eat, you would not have tasted the honey.
- Ushikwapo shikamana. When you are seized, hold on yourself.
- Usiache kunanua kwa kutega. Do not neglect the undoing (of a trap that
has caught) for the setting (of others). cf. A bird in the hand is
worth two in the bush.
- Usiache mbachao kwa msala upitao. Never give up your own old mat for a
better prayer mat which you see passing.
- Usicheze na simba, ukamtia mkono kinywani. When you play with a lion,
do not put your hand in its mouth (that would be going too far!).
- Usigombe na mkwezi, nazi imeliwa na mwezi. Don't quarrel with the
coconut-palm climber: the coconut has been eaten by the moon.
- Usijifanye kuku mweupe. Do not pretend to be a white fowl (you're only
an ordinary chap).
- Usikaange mbuyu ukawaachia wenye meno watafune. Do not roast baobab
kernels and leave those who have teeth chewing (them). Don't start quarrels
among other people (bv telling tales).
- Usile na kipofu ukamgusa rnkono. When you are eating with a blind man,
do not touch his hand. (to do so will lead him to suspect that either the
food is finished or you are trying to play a trick on him. In other words,
with a simple person you must be very careful lest you might do something to
make him suspicious of you)
- Usimwamshe aliyelala utalala wewe. Do not wake one who is sleeping; you
will fall asleep yourself.
- Usinivishe kilemba cha ukoka. Do not put a grass turban on my head,
(i.e. do not flatter me).
- Usipoziba ufa utajenga ukuta. If you do not fill up a crack, you will
have to build a wall. cf. A stitch in time saves nine
- Usisafiriye na nyota ya mwenzio. Don't travel under another's lucky
star (i.e. do not rely on someone else's good fortune).
- Usisahau ubaharia kwa sababu ya unahodha. Do not forget what it is to
be a sailor because of being a captain yourself.
- Usishindane na Kari; Kari ni mja wa Mungu. Do not compete with Kari,
Kari comes from God.
- Usitukane wagema na ulevi ungalipo. Speak no ill of palm-wine tappers as
long as drinking persists
- Usitukane wakunga na uzazi 'ungalipo. Speak no ill of midwives while
childbirth still continues.
- Usiyavuke maji usiyoweza kuyaoga. Do not cross water that is too deep