Popular Swahili Proverbs and What They Mean

Popular Swahili Proverbs and What They Mean

There are a Lot of Famous Swahili Proverbs in Tanzania, But Do You Know What They Mean?

A sovereign Tanzania was established in 1964 in East Africa near the equator. Like many wise sayings, Tanzanian proverbs are based on common sense or unique understanding to explain unique facts.

Proverbs are seen as a sign of wisdom in Tanzanian society; thus, a young Tanzanian who is always trying to understand them will be seen as someone who is continuously seeking wisdom. Even you, you can seek wisdom through Swahili idioms and proverbs. Among the many proverbs in Tanzania you can not miss finding funny Swahili proverbs. Tanzanian Swahili proverbs can be categorized as follows:

  • Swahili proverbs about unity
  • Swahili proverbs about love
  • Swahili proverbs about jealousy
  • Swahili proverbs about life
  • Swahili proverbs about happiness
  • Swahili proverbs about family
  • Swahili proverbs about friendship
  • Swahili proverbs about education
  • Swahili proverbs about marriage
  • Swahili proverbs about patience

With that said, you need to know some Swahili proverbs and meanings. These Swahili proverbs and their meanings will help you a great deal. The opportunity to learn Tanzania proverbs in Swahili is right here. Make sure you understand the Swahili proverbs in English as well. Some of the most popular Tanzanian proverbs and their translation are listed below:

These are Tanzania’s 25 Most Favored Swahili Proverbs and Their Interpretation

  1. Lovers of squash admire seeds.

Interpreted as: Love should be a two-way lane; you should be able to love someone for their good and bad attributes.

2. The more time you spend walking, the more you’ll be able to see.

Interpreted as: Traveling provides an individual with the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills.

3. The night possesses ears.

Interpreted as: You run the danger of saying something you shouldn’t if you’re not careful with your words.

4. A double direction confuses hyena.

Interpreted as: A person cannot serve two masters simultaneously.

5. The value of good deeds does not diminish over time.

Interpreted as: If you do something nice for someone else, it will eventually come around to you.

6. There is no curtain covering the eyes.

Interpreted as: Your eyes can see a lot at once.

7. Don’t throw away the old one if you find a new pot.

Interpreted as: Making new friends does not entail losing touch with those you already have.

8. The fattest pig should be your choice if you plan on eating it.

Interpreted as: If you plan on breaking the law, do something that will get you noticed.

9. Elephants that moisten the triumph of an evil individual.

Interpreted as: If you praise the horrible, you’ll encourage them to do more harm, so be careful!

10. The path of a liar is a short one.

Interpreted as: It’s a given that a liar will be found out.

11. Parents are aware of the bitterness in their son’s soul.

Interpreted as:: Because pain is a personal experience, only the person who feels it can tell you exactly where and how it hurts.

12. There are flaws in everyone’s beauty.

Interpreted as: No one is completely perfect.

13. A nest is slowly constructed by a bird.

Interpreted as: Progress is a gradual process, not a one-time event.

14. Longer roads can’t lack corners; there must be some.

Interpreted as: It doesn’t matter how great others think you are; you’ll always have some shortcomings, anyway.

15. Nothing can beat the taste of a mother’s breast milk.

Interpreted as: When it comes to a place, there’s no place like home. Mothers are generous beyond belief.

16. You will bathe in the water used to wash your clothing.

Interpreted as:: A true friend is there for you through thick and thin, at your best and worst moments.

17. It is impossible to crush a louse with one finger.

Interpreted as: Unity is the source of strength.

18. Lions devour meat at a snail’s pace.

Interpreted as: You don’t need to go after what’s yours.

19. Speed doesn’t make blessing rain.

Interpreted as: Any work done hastily will not be successful.

20. The child cannot be yours after such a long wait.

Interpreted as: It’s best to take advantage of any possibilities that come your way.

21. The darkest night is likened to the absence of information.

Interpreted as: Ignorance is wicked and immoral.

22. In the event of a rainstorm, clouds are a good predictor.

Interpreted as: There is always a sign before an event takes place.

23. Those who walk slowly and confidently go a long way.

Interpreted as: Regardless of how long it takes, you can succeed if you have the bravery and determination to do it.

24. The hoe will not be damaged if the stones are found and removed.

Interpreted as: You won’t become a victim if you know the law and abide by it.

25. Forest roosters don’t sing in cities.

Interpreted as: No matter how hard one tries, one will never be able to understand the world around them fully.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,”

Interpreted as: Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka

more like saying: “Haste generates waste,”

Word-for-word: “Rushing or hurrying has no blessing.

Among the oldest Swahili Proverbs this adage is simple and to the point. It is one of the Swahili proverbs about patience. Haraka is the Arabic terminology for movement, while Swahili uses the term to denote speed, hurry, or quickly. Let us use the example of “Je, unaweza kufanya baraka?” Meaning: “Please hurry up.”

Baraka is a word that means “blessing” in Arabic. With Arabic as the root of a prior US President with a similar-sounding name.

“Haina” is A third negative kuna, which means to own.

As a Swahili and Zanzibar saying goes, “Nobody rushes to do anything.” It takes longer for people to get up and go about their day. Your food will not arrive until 30 minutes after you place your order, even if you are the only one ordering.

The opposite is the case of the Arabic phrase “Haraka baraka,” which means “proceeding is blessed,” its meaning and interpretation can sometimes be conflicting in some cases here. On the other hand, this proverb has a specific meaning: it relates to the health benefits of regular physical activity.

What does “Kuuliza si ujinga” mean in this context?

“Asking is not foolish” or “questioning is not silliness.”

Kuuliza is a verb that means “to enquire” or “to inquire.”

What does it mean in this context to “Naweza kuuliza kitu?”

It simply means: “Permit me to ask you an inquiry?”

Ujinga implies “insanity” or “silliness.”

As “kuwa,” means “to be,” “Si” refers to the negative present tense. It’s an unusual verb. It’s all the same in the present tense for everyone. Mimi si Mmarekani, for instance, means “I’m not an American.”

Inquire! Tanzanians are incredibly helpful with Swahili Proverbs when you need them. Because we were originally from the Middle East, we were always on the lookout for someone trying to upsell us something. That’s not the case, however. People would approach us on the street and give us directions or accompany us halfway to a location just for the saying:

“Kuishi Kwingi Kuona Mengi.”

 “Understanding comes with age.”

“To live a long life is to see a lot,” according to the literal translation.

To live is the meaning of the verb “Kuishi.” It’s similar to kukaa and is used in the same context, except when kukaa means “to sit” or “to remain.”

When referring to seeing, kuona is the verb.

The words “a great deal” in the second and fourth sentences imply “a great deal.” Why do they seem so different?

Nouns and adjectives must agree in Swahili due to the Swahili agreement, like in grammatical gender for European languages. The adjective can describe a wide range of things; hence it takes on two different forms.

Nouns of this type are known as Ku-class nouns in their infinitive form. Kwingi modifying kuishi; the adjective prefix is the resulting Kw-.

Mengi modifying mambo. Mengi is a shortened form of the unwritten word mambo. The phrase “items” or “issues” is used. It has the pre m- As an adjectival prefix, making it an instance of a ji-ma class noun. In other words, mambo mengi signifies “many things.”

Seniority and age are more prized in African culture and many other cultures than in Western society. You have a different way of addressing and treating elders, and you use a different vocabulary, same, but better courteous. The old has seen it all, as the Swahili Proverbs state.

“Nyumba nzuri si mlango, fungua uingie ndani”

According to the saying, “Don’t evaluate a textbook by its cover.”

Please open the door and let yourself in; a lovely house isn’t defined by its door.

Nyumba signifies “house.” A house can be described as “amazing” using the nzuri word because it is an n-class noun.

Si is the present tense negative of kuwa, which means “to be.” As for mlango, the word “door” can be translated as such.

“A nice house is not determined by its front door,” which translates as “Nyumba nzuri si mlango.” Connoting the proverb’s abbreviation.

Fungua uingie ndani is the adage’s final line. This is the most difficult phase of the process! Fungua, uingie, the second-person subjunctive of the verb -ingia, comes next and is translated as “to go into.” The subjunctive must be used after each command. The last word, “ndani,” meaning “inside.”

So, in other words, you can’t judge a book by its cover. What’s fascinating about this aphorism is how it pushes you to dig a little further. Buying a car is an important decision for many people. Is there anything wrong with it? Investigate the engine’s inside. When I went online to look up this proverb, this is exactly what I found!

“Pilipili Usozila Zakuwashiani?” or “Minding My Business.”

“How do you get burned by a hot pepper if you haven’t even eaten it?”

What inspirational Swahili proverbs these are. There are, however, certain grammatical issues to address before we continue.

The word “pepper” is translated as pilipili. Almost anywhere you eat, you’ll be asked, “Pilipili fresh?” You’ll quickly pick up on the term.

“Usozila” Words like this can be hard for some people to pronounce. “You” is abbreviated as “U.” The verb to eat, with the ending la. Usizokula is an acronym for “the stuff you didn’t eat.”

It’s a combination of the terms zakuwashia: meaning “it burns,” and nini, which results in the name Zakuwashiani: meaning “what.” When put together, it says, “It burns what?”

Using the Swahili proverbs method, you can tell people to keep their mouths shut about other people’s business. Let’s assume that your acquaintance is getting more and more concerned about the actions of some politicians or celebrities. It’s generating a lot of worry for your friend. What’s the use of reading about them or worrying about them? You can’t get burned by a pepper until you eat it.

Because “pilipili” is a word I hear a lot, this one is particularly appealing to me. Take it with you when you go! Peppers, which I eat on a near-daily basis, sting my skin.

If you’re going to fight for the penny, better for the pound.”

Ukitaka Kula Nguruwe, Chagua Aliyenona

“If you’re going to consume a swine, make sure it’s fat.”

Even though I seldom ingest flesh, I adore this methali!

The verb -taka, meaning “desire,” is translated in this “inquiry” in the form of Ukitaka. The word for “if/when” is “u-ki-taka.” When coupled with kula, the infinitive verb to eat: meaning “if you choose to eat.”

The word “pig” means “Nguruwe.” Keep in mind that it resembles the “kingfish” nguru quite a bit.

“To pluck” is expressed in the infinitive form of the verb chagua.

An abbreviation for “to gain weight,” Aliyenona is formed from the root -nona. Alinona refers to “he/she piled on the pounds.” “He or she who gained weight,” as indicated by the usage of the referential ye, is also addressed here.

Interpreted as: If you’re pushing to accomplish something, you might as well drive all the way. Are we going to eat kebabs together; I might as well need more!


Adding a hundred more Swahili proverbs to this page would have been a cinch. Because I’m only going to focus on a select few, I didn’t. In the future, I might add to this. Please let me know if you come across any others that should be on this list for beginners! At least you now know some Swahili proverbs and sayings. If you want to know a lot, regarding any Swahili proverb, you can simply download a Swahili proverbs pdf. There, you will get a lot of proverbs meaning in Swahili. Just imagine having all the Swahili sayings and proverbs with you in your mind. You’ll be like a walking book of proverbs in Swahili with all the Swahili proverbs translated to English. Don’t forget you can also get wisdom from the proverbs in Swahili bible. For instance, it can help you have proverbs 31 in Swahili at your fingertips.

For more articles related to Tanzania Swahili language click here!

Recommended Articles From Around the Web