Here are a few of my favorite Shona Proverbs:
English Translation: Actions taken and words spoken under the stress of sorrow are not to be taken seriously.
English Translation: One who has washed doesn’t have stiff porridge broken off for himself.
Meaning: A cultured person is entitled to respect.
Translation: Like Musasa, like Munhondo.
Meaning: You are not making yourself clear. I don’t understand what you are trying to say.
English translation: You must not search too hard for a missing old woman when you see a hyena spitting white hairs.
Meaning: Sometimes you have to acknowledge and accept a certain reality or explanation (even when it is a very unpleasant one) if the evidence for that explanation is strong.
English Translation: A new thing doesn’t come to she who sits, but to she who travels.
Meaning: (pretty obvious)
English Translation: The axe forgets, but the tree remembers
Meaning: A person who harms another, or who borrows money from another often forgets about it, but the one who was harmed, or who lent the money, always remembers.
English Translation: It is mysterious if a baboon falls from a tree
Meaning: When someone who is very good at something messes up, it is confusing to everyone involved…. actually, I think there’s more to this one that I forgot to write down.
English Translation: A strange thing does not walk fast; it waits for you to see its horns.
Meaning: I forgot what this one means, and failed to write its explanation down altogether…and Old Man Google is of no help to me. :( Any speculation would be welcome. Mr. Mugabe, Maybe you can help me out with this one?
English Translation: The white pumpkin invites trouble for the black one.
Meaning: In Zimbabwe, there is a species of black pumpkin, which is difficult for people to see in the undergrowth, and a species of white pumpkins, which are easy to spot. If a white one grows near some black ones, then the hungry person is lured over to the patch by the white one, but then, sees the black ones and eats them too.
This means that if a given individual is engaged in mildly bad behavior, he will probably be able to remain hidden (like the black pumpkin), but if he had a friend who is a reckless miscreant, then both of them will be discovered and punished.
English Translation: Those that have grazed at one anthill have become acquainted.
Meaning: People who share an experience are united by it forever. This one is my favorite.
That’s all I have time for now, but I might add more later. I have many more.
Do you have a favorite proverb (from any country or culture)? Have you written any of your own? I’m compiling a list of my own proverbs over the last few years. They’re mostly funny, but some may be universal and useful.