||Savings never go bad
||It's always good to save or invest for the future.
||Akipenda chongo huita kengeza
||A person in love with a one-eyed person
calls her/him "cross-eyed"
||When a person is in love, he/she hardly
sees the bad attributes of his/her lover. She/he will always
belittle or find excuses for any faults on her/his lover.
||Akufukuzae hakwambii toka
||A person who wants you out of her/his place
will not tell you, 'Get out!'
||The actual Swahili proverb doesn't stop
there, it continues with: "... you will just learn that from her/his
This proverb (which is used a lot in the Swahili world) is just a
reminder that people's inner feelings are mostly communicated through
actions, attitude and behaviour, and much less through words.
Literally, the proverb tells people not to wait until they are verbally
notified that they are no longer welcome at a particular place, instead,
they should try to take note of the attitude, actions, and behaviour of
their hosts, to know that they have stayed long enough and it was time
||I see!! That is so!
||A common expression used to show that one
is suprised by some information that he or she has just come to know of.
||Asante gari ya muhishimiwa
||Thanks to the honourable's car
||In the Swahili world leaders are always
called with "Muhishimiwa" or "Mheshimiwa" title which is the translation
for "Honourable" or "His/Her Excellency". In rural areas you hardly
find any cars save those government-owned cars given to district and
regional commissioners, local concillors, members of parliament, etc.
These "honourable's cars" help rural people in many ways including
giving them rides (lifts) especially in case of emergencies. That's why
this kanga writing expresses gratitude to such a car.
||He/she who doesn't know you, doesn't
||Another Swahili proverb: Zimwi likujualo
halikuli likakwisha - An ogre (zimwi) that knows you won't eat you
completely. In the Swahili folklore, a "zimwi" is believed to be a
monster that eats people.
||A person in need never gets tired
||Of course she/he will feel tired only after
getting what she/he wants.
||Bahati ni upepo sasa upo kwangu
||Being lucky is like (the blowing of) the
wind, now (it's blowing) on my side
||Indeed, don't expect to be lucky all the
||Chanda chema huvikwa pete
||A favourite finger gets a ring on
||An award or privilege usually goes to
the one who deserves it. Another Swahili proverb: Mcheza kwao hutunzwa -
A person who plays at home gets awarded. A person who brings "the
bacon" home, is the one that gets recognition.
||Chokochoko mchokoe pweza, binadamu
||If you want to poke (provoke) someone, then
poke an octopus; you will fail with a human being
||The word "chokochoko" actually means
"provocation" but it is derived from "chokoa" which means to poke
or to fork. The way fisherman fish octopus in East Africa is by
forking them in their holes with pointed wooden sticks.
||Chokochoko si njema mchague la kusema
||Provocation is not good, you should choose
what to say
||A warning against those who use their
tongues to incite chaos and misunderstanding between people.
||Dua la kuku halimpati mwewe
||A chicken's prayer doesn't affect a
||This saying is normally used to refer
to the helplessness of the powerless in the hands of their oppressors.
Had the prayers of the victims be of any effect on to their
victimizers, then certainly the oppression would end. But
that doesn't seem to be the case.
||The Earth is round
||Go wherever you go, but you'll return to
the same old place. In some cases this saying is used to
discourage overindulgence in other peoples' affairs. The Earth
is round, everything revolves, and you'll never get to the bottom
of everything! Some would add, "Dunia duara, ukiichungua
utahara!!" (The Earth is round, you'll end up catching diarrhoea
if you investigate it!). Try not to get bothered, worried and
concerned with everything. Afterall, the Earth is round!
||Embe mbivu yaliwa kwa uvumilivu
||A ripe mango has to be eaten slowly
||Of course the writing doesn't refer to an
actual "ripe mango". It refers to a love partner who is willing and
ready. She/he has to be handled gently and with care.
||Ewe Mola tuepushe na mahasidi
||O Lord, save us from the evil ones
||A good prayer when surrounded by vultures
that are ready to feast on your 'prey'.
||Fadhila za punda ni mateke
||The way a donkey expresses gratitude
is by giving someone a bunch of kicks
||This saying is used when one gets bad
treatment in return to a favour he or she gave to someone. Another
Swahili proverb: "Mtenda wema kijuki, mwishowe hutiwa moto", (A
bee gets burnt/smoked in return for the favour of making honey).
||Fimbo la mnyonge halina nguvu
||A poor man's cane is not strong enough
||Another similar Swahili proverb: Dau la
mnyonge haliendi joshi - A poor man's canoe doesn't sail fast. For the
canoe to sail fast, the wind has to be blowing in the direction the
canoe is headed to. But even the wind doesn't blow in the poor man's
favor! There is yet another similar proverb: Mbuzi wa masikini hazai - A
poor man's goat doesn't bear kids. In short, nothing seems to work in
the poor man's favor. That's an unfortunate reality.
||Fitina yako faida yangu
||Your bad words against me, actually benefit
me. When you incite others against me, you actually benefit me.
||When someone goes around spreading bad
words against you, she may actually benefit you in a way. For example,
the other people will realize that the other person is really bad for
what she says about you. Or, the other people will come back to you and
tell you what the person is saying against you and you will know that
she is a person to avoid - hence a benefit to you.
||Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba
||Little and little, fills the measure
||Small things, when combined together
make up big things.
||Halahala mti na macho
||Beware, a stick and your eyes!
||It is a caution given against an
||Halua ya lozi imemshinda mdokozi
||Almond sweetmeat is a formidable
challenge to a petty thief
||Sweetmeat is a famous dessert in Zanzibar
and along the coast of East Africa. It is made of starch, sugar,
oil and sometimes nuts or sesame seeds are used. Depending on the
way it is made, it can be as soft as jelly but sometimes it may
be very hard to cut with fingers. The saying above is meant to
laugh at someone who has attempted in vain to do something
like to win over somebody else's lover.
||Hasidi hana sababu
||An envious person requires no reason
to practice envy
||He/she would practice envy for no
reasons at all! There is something within him/herself that makes
him/her practice envy. The inner urge is all by itself enough
||Hata tukibanana hapa atapata aliyejaliwa
||Even if we get into a scramble here, the
winner will be the one destined to win
||More literally it translates as: "Even if
we squash each other fighting for it, the one who will get it is the one
destined to get it". The writing actually discourages people from using
violence means to try to get things for themselves. In essence, it
says, a particular thing goes not to the strong but to the one destined
(ordained by God) to get it.
||Hata ukinichukia la kweli nitakwambia
||Hate me, but I won't stop telling you the
||The words of a person full of courage!
||Hata ukinuna buzi tumelichuna
||You may be angry, but we've skinned the big
||The literal translation of the writing is
very simple, but its meaning is rather hidden. You have to know some
Swahili slang to be able to understand it.
"Big goat" = buzi, goat = mbuzi
"buzi" is Swahili slang for a well-to-do (temporary) male sex partner.
"kuchuna buzi" = "to skin the big goat" is another slang for sleeping
with such a man.
As you can now realize, this is not a very polite saying. Someone is
boasting that she has actually slept with some rich man even if the
other lady is angry about that. That man might even be the other lady's
lover - giving her the reason to be angry about it.
||Hodi hodi naikome mwaka ujao naolewa
||Knock, knock, should stop, as I'm getting
married next year
||The lady doesn't want any more (male)
visitors who drop by her house trying to win her as she has already been
engaged and she is actually getting married very soon. Of course she's
concerned that persistent 'knock, knock' on her door by the visitors would spoil
her chance of getting married.
||Huyo kibuzi mwarika mtizame
||There (she is), stupid goat, look at how
she swings her body!
||"Kibuzi mwarika" which I have translated as
"stupid goat" is just an insult. This statement is certainly made to
offend someone. The person issuing that statement is certainly not
pleased with someone that shows off her body by swinging it provocatively
while she walks.
||Japo kidogo chatosha kwa wapendanao
||A little is enough for those in love
||It doesn't really need much to sustain a
relationship! A few words of endearment and assurance are more than
||Japo sipendezi kubembeleza siwezi
||(I know) I'm not loved (by some people) but
I cannot beg for (their) love.
||She/he is very proud of herself/himself!
She/he is not prepared to humiliate herself/himself.
||Je! iko namna?
||Is there a way?
||This is slang which is usually used when
there is something suspicious happening.
||Jogoo wa shamba hawiki mjini
||A country rooster would not crow
while in town
||Usually meant to despise country
people but its wider meaning is that some things only fit in some
||Kama ni ubaya ulianza wewe
||If you think I'm bad then you started it!
||I'm just giving you the taste of your own
||Kanga nenda na urembo, shani urembo na
||Kanga, go with embellishment; wonder,
elegance and wonder
||As if talking to kanga the writing
goes with the whole idea of giving kanga as gifts to loved
ones. Here the gift giver "instructs" the kanga to go to
his or her lover with the message to confirm the
||Kasheshe unalijua unalisikia?
||Do you know of "Kasheshe" or you just
hear about it?
||"kasheshe" is a rather new word in Swahili
which refers to a serious crisis situation. Here is a warning against
inviting or causing a crisis situation.
||Kazi mwanamandanda, kulala njaa kupenda
||Work is an obedient child, sleeping hungry
is one's choice
||When you work hard, it is certain that you
will succeed. On the other hand, if you don't work hard, you are
bound to have a miserable life.
||Kidogo changu pokea na dua njema nakuombea
||Please except this little from me along
with my prayers
||What a pleasant way to give!
||Kikapu cha mama kimejaa ndago
||My mother's basket is full of straw
||Swahili people use straw (and I should say,
many kinds of straw), for many purposes. They make straw baskets, hats,
fans, mats, food covers, and a slew of other decorative stuff. Women
(mothers) are the ones that make most of those things. Therefore, for a
mother to have a basket full of straw, it may mean that she's well
provided for, well served, contented. In that case then, a child here
(in this kanga writing) sort of boasts of how he/she has provided all
what his/her mother needs. Such a kanga, with such a writing, would be
ideal to give to one's mother as a gift.
||Kikulacho kinguoni mwako
||What "eats" you is in your dress
|| The source of your problems is those close
||Kila jambo na wakati wake
||There is an opportune time for
||Do not mix up things! A time for work
shouldn't be used for playing, and vice versa.
||Kila mwenye kusubiri hakosi kitu
||A patient person never misses (a thing)
||With patience, you always stand to win.
||Kila uonalo wasema na hili kaseme pia
||You talk about everything you see, then
talk about this one too!
||It's an angry message from someone who's
fed up with the behavior of another person. The other person gossips
about everything she/he sees on others. She/he talks bad about others in
their absence. So, realizing that she/he has witnessed a certain thing
happening (probably something bad to her/him), she/he is given a
challenge to go around and talk about it as well. In a way, it is an
||Kuelekeza si kufuma
||To aim is not to hit
||Good intentions alone serve nothing if
not followed by tangible results.
||Kuku mgeni hakosi kamba mguuni
||A new hen would always have a string
tied to its leg
||You can always easily identify a new
person in town through his/her appearance, actions and behaviour.
There will always be something that he/she will have or do that is
not common in the town. In other words, each stranger comes with
||Kupata si werevu, na kukosa si ujinga
||Getting something is not necessarily
because of cleverness, and missing something is not necessarily
because of ignorance
||Another Swahili saying: Mpaji ni Mungu -
God is the Sustainer.
||Kwangu anakula keki afuate nini kwako we
||By having me he gets to eat a real cake,
that's why he doesn't come to you as you are just a half-cake
||This statement is said in jest. The speaker
seems to have won a love battle. She is now throwing some insults to the
person she has just defeated. She says, she has won him over because
she is "the real thing" - perfect in every sense, while the other lady
(the loser) doesn't really match up with her. She is just a "half-cake"
- not perfect.
||Lia na tabia yako usilaumu wenzako
||Blame your character not your fellows
||It's very easy to blame others whenever one
faces a problem. This writing is a reminder that sometimes the blame
should be on the "man in the mirror" - that is, yourself!
||If it's being talked about then it's
||This is a very common Swahili saying. One
would say that when he has heard about something he/she is not sure of
especially something big or bad.
||Machoni rafiki, moyoni mnafiki
||Friendly in the eyes, a hypocrite in
||Typical hypocrites are very good at
concealing their true characters.
||Mama ni mama japokuwa rikwama
||A mother is a mother even if a
||Even a bad mother is still a mother worthy
of respect, love and care.
||Mama nipe radhi kuishi na watu kazi
||Mother, give me your blessings; living with
people is really tough
||Swahili people believe that one has to earn
his/her parent's blessings (radhi) to be successful in life. The
blessings serve as a shield and guidance in the face of any hardship.
||Mambo mazuri hayataki haraka
||Good things should not be hastened
||Another similar Swahili proverb: Haraka
haraka haina baraka - Rush rush doesn't lead to bounty. You need to slow down
sometimes since when you do everything in a rush you do not get enough
time to enjoy what you do.
||Mapenzi hayana macho ya kuona
||Love is blind
||Those in love do things that trascend
||Mapenzi hudumu ukila zabibu
||Love lasts if you eat grapes
||The literal translation doesn't make much
sense but it actually means, love is sustained by sexual relation.
||Mche Mungu upate rehema zake milele
||Fear God so that you earn His everlasting
||Many kanga writings reflect deep religious
feelings of the Swahili people. This is one of them.
||Mcheza kwao hutunzwa
||A person who plays at home gets awarded
||He/She who brings "the bacon" home is
the one who gets recognition and favour.
||Mchezea wembe humkata mwenyewe
||A person who plays with a razor, cuts
||If you get involved in a dangerous
exercise, you are bound to get harmed physically or emotionally.
||Mchimba kisima, huingia mwenyewe
||A person who digs a well, gets himself
||A person who sets a trap often times
finds himself caught in it. If you have bad intentions against
others, chances are, you'll be the first to be affected by those
intentions directly or indirectly.
||Mdhaniaye ndiye kumbe siye
||The one whom you think is the right
one is the wrong one
||You are barking up a wrong tree.
||Mgaagaa na upwa hali wali mkavu
||A person who walks and searches
thoroughly around a beach never eats "dry" rice (rice with no fish
||If you work hard looking for
something, you will never come out empty handed.
||Mie langu jicho
||To me, my eye!
||He/She is prepared to do nothing but look
at the way things go! It is the same as saying, "I don't care!".
||Mimi na wewe pete na kidole
||I and you are like a ring and a finger
||We're so close.
||Mke mwema pambo la nyumba
||A good wife is a home's adornment
||A wife full of love, lights up the home
with her compassion.
||Mke mwenza!! haa!! mezea!
||Cowife! Ha! Just swallow it!
||A wife tells her husband to never
even think about having a second wife! The statement "mezea" (just
swallow it) is Swahili slang which means, "let it pass" or as
they say in US, "Forget it!"
||Mkuki kwa nguruwe, kwa binaadamu mchungu
||A spear only fits a warthog, it's bitter to
||In other words, those people who like to
cause harm and discomfort to others, often times are very quick at
crying foul when something bad is done to them.
||Moyo wa kupenda hauna subira
||A heart deep in love has no patience
||A person deep in love doesn't like to wait!
||Moyo wangu Sultani, cha mtu sikitamani
||My heart is like Sultan, I don't long for
anybody else's property
||I am satisfied.
||Moyo wa subira haufanyi ghera
||A patient heart is never in haste
||A patient heart doesn't fumble around.
||Mpaji ni Mungu
||God is the Sustainer
||Mostly used by the havenots to console
||Mpenzi uwe radhi
||Sorry, my dear!
||It's about time that someone said, "I'm
||Msijifanye hamjui linalonikera
||Don't pretend you don't know what annoys me
||The person says: "You pretty well know what
bothers me but you keep repeating the same as if you don't know that it
||Women: do not fall asleep
||It's a call to women not "to fall asleep" -
meaning, not to be completely passive. They should "wake up" and do what
is best for them.
||You will be troubled with what you
have no knowledge of
||Normally said to discourage those who
are so nosy about the affairs of others.
||Mso hili ana lile
||A person missing this has that
||There is no useless person. Likewise,
there is no person that is absolutely perfect.
||Mti hawendi ila kwa nyenzo
||A log moves only with proper tools
||You need to have proper tools to
carry out any task.
||Mtoto umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo
||The way you raise a child is what
he/she will grow to be
||The upbringing of a child is what
moulds his or her character. It is a lesson given to parents to
raise their children well for them to have better future.
||Mtumai cha ndugu hufa masikini
||A person who relies on his/her
relative's property, dies poor
||Mtupie Mungu kilio, sio binadamu mwenzio
||Throw saddening stuff to God, not to your
fellow human being
||The logic is, God can handle any situation,
not so with an ordinary human being.
||Mungu atanilinda ubaya wenu hautanifika
||God will protect me, your evil deeds will
not reach me
||God will protect me against your evil
deeds. He is afterall, The Protector.
||Mungu ndie muamuzi wa kila jambo
||God is the Judge for everything
||This is a very common attitude of many
Swahili people. They will just leave matters to God to decide. It is the
basis for their non-confrontational and peaceful attitude.
||Mwanamke ni chachu ya maendeleo
||A woman is an important part of development
||A woman is an important part of any
||Mwenye wivu ajinyonge
||The envious should hang herself/himself
||Mmmh! Quite rough words! This is a very
harsh and impolite statement from someone who is really fed up with those
who envy her/his relationship or success in life.
||Mzaha mzaha hutumbuka usaha
||Too many jokes burst out the pus
||If you joke with someone too much,
you may easily do or say something that will anger him or her.
||Mzizi sio jadi kupendwa ni bahati
||To be loved is not through a love potion
but through your good luck
||Of course many people would dispute that.
Some people in the Swahili world do indeed believe in love potions.
||Naishi niwezavyo siishi mtakavyo
||I live as I can afford not as you wish
||Another Swahili proverb: Mtu hujikuna
ajipatapo - A person scratches herself/himself where her/his fingers
reach. In this writing the kanga wearer is confronting others who seem
to talk behind her back regarding her life style. She is telling them
she is not prepared to yield on their pressure. She'll just continue to
live according to her means no matter what they say. This is a very
||Na iwe leo furaha ya harusi
||Let today be the happiest wedding moment
||A wedding day is considered to be a climax of life
in many culture. Swahili culture is no exception. This kanga writing is a very popular
chorus in many Swahili wedding songs.
||Naona ni shoga yangu, kumbe ni mke
||I thought of you as my girlfriend, but
alas! You are my cowife
||Someone is messing around with someone
||Napenda kukuona mpenzi wangu ni furaha ya
||I love to see you my dear, you are the joy
of my heart!
||Mmmh! It's a kind of words you never get
tired of hearing!
||Nazi mbovu harabu ya nzima
||A bad coconut renders good ones bad
||A bad person or thing in the midst of
good ones can easily spoil either the attributes or even the
character of the good ones.
||Neema ya wazee furaha ya watoto
||Economic success of parents is a joy
to their children
||Parents who are economically successful
have enough means to take good care of their children.
||Nikiwepo sipendezi na kunikosa huwezi
||My presence doesn't please you and neither
can you afford to be without me
||Mmmh! A kanga with such a writing is
definitely intended to give someone a good "rub". The giver of such a kanga
might even be hit back with it!
||Nilikudhani dhahabu kumbe adhabu
||I thought of you as gold but you are
such a pain
||I regarded you as the most precious
thing I have ever had, but you have proved to be nothing but
torture and torment to me.
||Nimekisaliti kidole na jiwe, liwalo na liwe
||I have betrayed a toe against a stone, let
||I am prepared to bear the consequences of
my own mistakes.
||Njaa mwanamalegeza, shibe mwanamalevya
||Hunger weakens, but food satisfaction
||When one is hungry, he becomes weak but
when he is stomach-full of food he becomes too lazy to work.
||Paka chume mtaani kwenu, halahala vitoweo
||A stray cat is wandering around your
neighbourhood, watch out with your "vitoweo" (fish or meat)
||It is a caution given to lovers to watchout
against wanderers lest they snatch their partners off.
||Pekepeke za jirani, hazinitoi ndani
||Unwarranted spying by a neighbour does not
take me out of my house
||The best treatment for nosy neighbours is
to ignore them.
||Pema usijapo pema ukipema si pema tena
||A good place is one where you have not
dwelt on, once you do that it ceases to be good
||Often times you get fascinated with
things you have little knowledge about. Once you have knowledge
and experience with that thing it ceases to interest you. It's an
unfortunate reality that bedevils many human relationships.
||Penzi la mama tamu, haliishi hamu
||Mother's love is so sweet that you never
have enough of it
||Couldn't have said it better!
||Pilipili iko mtini yakuwashia nini?
||A chilli pepper on its plant, how could it
make you hot?
||The issue is none of your concern, how
could it bother you? In other words, "This is none of your
||Rafiki akupendae humuona penye haja
||A friend who loves you, you'll always see
him/her when you're in need
||Compare with the English saying: A friend
in need is a friend indeed.
||Samaki akioza usimtupe ataokotwa uje ujute
||If a fish goes bad don't throw it away lest
you regret when someone picks it up
||Of course the meaning is far from the
"fish" thing! It is a caution against making hasty decisions on things
that affect us directly. And in this particular context it is with
regard to relationships. The writing teaches us not to be too swift at
dumping our friends and lovers only to regret when they find "better"
||Shanuo baya pale linapokuchoma
||A comb becomes bad when it hurts you
||An otherwise useful thing or a good person
becomes bad to you when it/he/she harms you in whatever way.
||Shukurani zetu pokeeni na dua njema
||Please accept our thanks and good prayers
||An excellent way to express gratitude.
||Sichagui sibagui atayenizika simjui
||I do not choose nor do I seggregate, for I
don't know who will attend to my funeral
||This is a nice saying and a very important
reminder to all of us. We really don't know who will and will not be
useful to us. You may be in trouble and get helped by someone you least
expected. It always help to treat everyone equally and with respect.
||Siku ya kufa nyani miti yote huteleza
||The day a monkey is destined to die, all
trees get slippery
||There is no escaping one's fate.
||Sithamini pochi yako bali utu wako
||I value not your wallet but your morality
||Another Swahili proverb: Bora utu kuliko
kitu - Good moral character is more important than material wealth.
||Situmai uzuri wangu, natumai bahati yangu
||I don't rely on my beauty but my luck
||Compare with: The beauty and the
||Tamu ya mua kifundo
||A sugarcane is sweetest at the joint
||What seems to be hard to achieve in
real life is often times the best. Fruits of hard labour are enjoyed the most.
||Tulia tuishi wazuri haweshi
||Calm down and live with me, pretty
ones are never in short supply
||Indeed the world is full of beautiful and
handsome people. If one were to fall for each one of them it would be
impossible to establish a lasting relationship with anyone.
||Tulia tulia utakalo utalipata
||Just be cool, you'll get what you want
||A re-assuring statement!
||Ubaya hauna kwao mola nisitiri na njama zao
||There is no special place for wickedness;
Oh Lord, save me from their evil plots
||One can come across wicked things anywhere
even where he/she least expected. Wicked things are not reserved to
special places. There is no "home" for wickedness. Realizing that, the
person here seeks refuge to God to protect him/her from any kind of evil
plots against him/her. The saying itself is very poetic in Swahili and
the meaning is far reaching.
||Uchungu wa mwana aujuae mzazi
||A parent has the ultimate feelings for
||"Uchungu wa mwana" is generally used to
mean the pain a mother feels from pregnancy to child birth. Ironically,
it is this pain that creates a solid bond with her child and giving her
the reason to protect the child from any harm. In essence, the writing
says: "It is the mother that knows best how hard it was to give birth to
the child and therefore she has the ultimate feelings for her child."
In this case though, the writing is more general to include the
feelings of both parents to their child. Hence the use of "mzazi"
(parent), instead of "mama" (mother).
||Ukali wa jicho washinda wembe
||An eye is sharper than a razor
||A look can be extremely effective in
sending a desired message across. It can be a friendly and
inviting look or a threatening one.
||Ukila nanasi, tunda lingine basi
||Once you taste a pineapple, you'll
never go for any other fruit
||It is very common in Swahili to use sweet
fruits to signify things associated with love. There are songs and
songs about such fruits as "nanasi" (pineapple), "zabibu"
(grapes), "tofaa" (apple), etc., all having nothing to do with the
fruits themselves but love. Hence such sayings as, "Ukila zabibu,
utaleta majibu", (Once you taste grapes you'll definitely
respond), obviously talks about things associated with love.
||Ukimkirimu Mola wako hukosi fungu lako
||If you are generous to your God, you won't
miss your share (of compensation)
||If you are generous to your God (and His
creations), He will be generous to you. If you serve your God, He will
||Ukiona vyaelea vimeundwa
||When you see them (vessels) afloat,
somebody made them
||Nothing comes out of nothing! One has
to work for whatever he or she wishes to achieve.
||Ukipata shukuru ukikosa usikufuru
||When you get (something) be thankful and
when you miss (something) do not blaspheme
||The one who gives is the same one as the
one who deprives. It's the Almighty God. The best thing is to be
thankful for both - getting and missing things. The Swahili people
believe that it's in God's plans that people miss some things and get
||Ukistaajabu ya Musa utaona ya Firauni
||If the acts of Moses make you wonder, wait
until you see the acts of Pharaoh
||Get prepared for the worst! As the
Americans would say: You ain't seen nothin' yet!!
||Ukiujua huu, huu huujui
||If you know this one, you don't know
this (other) one
||Sometimes interpreted as a gesture
demonstrated by flies when they rub their legs forward and then
they repeat rubbing their legs backward. i.e. if you know the
forward one, you don't know the backward one. In other words you will
always find that there is something you don't know.
||Usiache mbachao kwa msala upitao
||Don't abandon your old rug for a
||Value more what is yours and more
permanent rather than a temporary thing that is not yours even
though it appears to be better looking than yours.
||Usibadili nia kwa jambo la kusikia
||Don't change your mind because of a hearsay
||People do speak lots of things which are
not always the truth. This is a piece of advice not to take
||Usicheze na ulimwengu ukikuelemea utajuta
||Don't play tricks with the world, you will
regret when it falls on you
||"Ulimwengu" in Swahili literally translates
as "the world" or "the universe", but in the above saying it
means one's life and whatever surrounds him/her including other people
and things. The correct (non-literal) translation of the above saying
would then be: Don't be unconcerned with your life, you will regret
when it fails you.
||Usikumbuke uovu ukasahau fadhila
||Don't remember the evil things only
while forgetting to be thankful for the good deeds
||Make a judgement based on both, good and
bad side of everything.
||Usilaumu sisimizi sukari haimalizi
||Don't blame an ant, it will never finish
||Don't look for lame excuses.
||Usinichukie kwa umasikini
||Don't hate me for (my) poverty
||Hate me for something else but not because
of my poverty as I didn't ask God to make me poor.
||Usinione nasinzia uyasemayo nayasikia
||You see me dozing but I hear whatever you
||Don't think that I am not aware of what you
do in my absence.
||Usinipende kwa moja nipende kwa yote
||Don't love me for just one thing, love me
||She/he demands to be loved as a person (as
a whole) not just as someone that possesses one likable/adorable thing.
||Usisafirie nyota ya mwenzio
||Don't set sail using someone else's
||Everyone has his or her own destiny.
If someone has become successful by doing something, it is not
necessarily right to assume that you will also be successful by
doing the same thing.
||Usisahau hisani kwa dhiki ya mara moja
||A single instant of hardship should not
make you forget all the favours
||The message here is that any long-term
relationship is bound to encounter some displeasing incidents which
should just as well be ignored in favour of so many good things rendered
over the whole long period of relationship. That is exactly how
relationships are sustained!
||Usisherehekee vita ukalilia amani
||Don't celebrate war and cry for peace
||You cannot blow hot and cold at the same
time. You're either for peace or for war - not both at the same time! If
you are happy to go to war, it is hypocritical at the same time to cry
(pray) for peace.
||Usitake ushindani huniwezi aslani
||Don't compete (with me), you can never beat
||War of words!
||Utamaliza limau shaba haiwi dhahabu
||You will run short of lemon juice
(rubbing), but never will copper turn into gold
||Don't wish for the impossible.
||Uzuri wa mke ni tabia si sura
||A wife's beauty is in her character, not
||Compare with: Don't judge a book by its
||Vidole vitano, kipi bora
||Five fingers, which is the best?
||It is an indirect way of saying that
it is difficult to say which finger is better than another since
fingers work together to accomplish a task. In other words, it is a
call for unity. Compare with another Swahili proverb: Kidole kimoja
hakivunji chawa - One finger is not capable of smashing a flea.
You need two fingers (usually two thumbnails) for that purpose.
||Vishindo vingi sio kutenda jambo
||Fumbling around doesn't accomplish
||Another Swahili proverb: "Simba mwenda
kimya ndiye mla nyama" - A quiet lion is the one that catches the
||Wajenga kwa wengine kwako kwabomoka
||You build somebody else's place while yours
is falling down
||A wake-up call for a person too negligent
of his own life.
||Wameadhirika mahasidi wasojijua
||Humiliation has come down upon the evil ones who
don't know themselves
||Those who wrongly took themselves as saints
rather than evil persons, have now revealed their true colors. They are
very much humiliated! It seems to be the right time to laugh at them.
||Wangu wa ubani nimemuweka ndani
||I am securely holding my lover inside
||"Ubani" (Frankincense gum) is a very common
incense in East Africa and Arabia. It is commonly
used in large gatherings especially in religious (Islamic)
ocassions where believers say prayers. It is very common to
burn "ubani" in a small earthen container called "kiotezo" filled
with hot charcoal. Burning "ubani" is customarily taken to be an essential part of
saying prayers. The custom is
thought to have been brought to East Africa by the Persians (Iranians).
Associating a lover with a word "ubani" is likely due to its nice
fragrance or the fact that it requires a hard task of burning "ubani"
in a prayer to have a lover. Statements like, "Humpati hata kwa ubani",
(You will never win her even if you burn "ubani") are common in
||Wape wape vidonge vyao, wakimeza, wakitema
||Give them their (bitter) medicine tablets;
It is upon them to swallow or to spit them off!
||Usually said when one proceeds
telling someone things that he or she would not like to hear.
Maybe someone is complaining about what he or she did or just an attempt
to intimidate him or her.
||Wasemao nawaseme siwajali mambo yao
||I don't care what they say!
||I'll just ignore them!
||Wastara nimestirika mlilolitaka
||Destined to be safe, I remain protected,
and your evil wishes have not materialized
||A triumpant and daring statement!
||Wee! Utaumiza roho yako
||You! You'll hurt your soul
||Another impolite caution!
||Zawadi ni tunda la moyo
||A gift is a fruit from the heart
||Another Swahili saying: Kutoa ni moyo
usambe ni utajiri - Giving is from the heart not from the wealth.
||Zawadi ni zawadi, usichoke kupokea
||A gift is a gift, don't get tired of
||Compare with another Swahili proverb:
"Kutoa ni moyo usambe ni utajiri", (Giving is from the heart not
from the wealth).