Thursday, April 9, 2009

A proverb's worth a thousand words

Kiswahili, which is widely spoken here in Kenya, is a fantastic and colorful language. It’s also been tough for me to learn…yesterday morning I mixed up the words for “mud” and “plantain,” and I thoroughly confused Philomen. I’m pretty sure we almost ended up with a side dish of dirt for breakfast.

Anyway, Kiswahili sayings are particularly entertaining…here are some of the best (at least according to me, Audrey, and the rest of her Swahili language class):

Siku ya kufa nyani miti yote huteleza.
The day a monkey is destined to die, all the trees get slippery.

Simba mwenda kimya ndiye mla nyama.
A quiet lion is the one that catches the prey.

Mbuzi wa masikini hazai.
A poor man's goat doesn't bear kids.

Nyani haoni kundule.
A baboon doesn’t see his own backside, he only sees that of other baboons.

Fadhila ya punda ni mateke.
The gratitude of a donkey is a kick.

Majumba makubwa husitiri mambo.
Big houses conceal a lot.

Akipenda chongo huita kengeza.
A person in love with a one-eyed person calls him "cross-eyed."

Kitanda usicho kilala hujui kunguni wake.
You can't know the bugs of a bed that you haven't lay on.

Maji ya kifufu ni bahari ya chungu.
Water in a coconut shell is like an ocean to an ant.

Chime in if you’ve got other great ones to add to the list!


dp said...

I like "big houses conceal a lot" -- that one is probably true the world over.

Andy Flies said...

I like the baboon and donkey ones. They certainly apply to me.

Anonymous said...

Ume chelewa chelewa utafuta watoto si wako - If you are always late you will find that your children are not your own


Joey said...

from our Malawi peacecorp visitor:

Remember: two fingers cannot fit up one nostril

One banana; Two banana: blue monkey fall out of tree.

Leslie said...

Andy, I thought I noticed you staring at my behind a lot...

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