Many peoples the world over have a wealth of proverbs and the Lozi are no different. The Scots, too, have a reputation for terse, pithy and sententious sayings. Proverbs are part of humankind’s heritage but are often considered traditional, old-fashioned and couthy in thought and expression and, therefore, disparaged by those of a more rational, scientific and intellectual mind-set; nonetheless, they do contain folk wisdom and humour which demonstrate something of the values and character of the people and society that produced them. It is sometimes said this friction between the traditional and more modern worlds of thought, in the Scottish context, helped to ignite both the genius of Burns and Scott. The Scottish proverb – auld men will die and bairns will sune forget - sums up quite well the reason for making sure that these are passed on.
The proverbs listed below are not a comprehensive list. They are 34 of the most accessible ones and I will be happy to add more from readers’ contributions. They are a mixture of Silozi & Siluyana; the Siluyana ones are asterisked*. There is also a stray Sesotho one! My sources are Indigenous Motivational and Value Statements by Sheila Siwela and Mukumbuta Lisimba’s Kongo Proverbs and the Origins of Bantu Wisdom. The sayings are grouped thematically under Appreciation, Care, Children, Cooperation, Elders, Kindness, Leadership, Open-mindedness and Patience
APPRECIATION: All people need to be acknowledged and respected for what they have contributed.
1. Banihupula kwa misebezi hakuciwa banilibala APPRECIATION
They remember me for work but forget me when it comes to eating
2. Kuswala mutu fa lulimi APPRECIATION
To hold someone on the tongue (To interrupt)
3. Sisapo sesikenile sesinina nama, nesikilesaba ni nama kale APPRECIATION /ELDERS
A clean bone once had meat
CARE: Be vigilant to detect sources of danger.
4. Sibao mukowe akasikakanga okwibaa* CARE
What kills your relative won’t fail to kill you
CHILDREN: A proper traditional and timely upbringing is a parental responsibility
5. Mwanuke mutate, kaakutingi bamukulu kaayooya* CHILDREN
A child is a delicate tree. If it does not lean on an older person it does not survive.
COOPERATION: Partnership is a source of increased strength
6. Kopano ki maata COOPERATION
Teamwork is strength
7. Munwana ulimung’wi haukoni kutuba nda COOPERATION
One finger cannot crush a louse
ELDERS: Experience and wisdom comes with old age.
8. Mukanwa kamukulu kunuka koola, bokamukabana ya mbango* ELDERS
An old person’s mouth smells bad but whatever comes out is not false
KINDNESS: People reciprocate when you are generous.
9. Kuba ni kooleka* KINDNESS
To give is to retain
10. Kufa hakikusinya kikubululekela kamuso KINDNESS
Giving is not losing it is keeping for tomorrow
LEADERSHIP: Requires vision and courage to manage people
11. Mueteleli ki mutano wa sicaba LEADERSHIP
A leader is a bridge for the people
OPENMINDEDNESS: Explore the alternatives and possibilities in life
12. Apula ñobyo OPENMINDEDNESS
Open your eyelashes
PATIENCE: Do not rush as speed is no guarantee of success
13. Kushembo fumu ni mombocima* PATIENCE
Calling wealth requires patience
14. Linoñu lililiñwi halimatelwi PATIENCE
One vulture is not worth running for.
15. Liywa liweya kaliolo ndopu* PATIENCE
One day does not rot the elephant
PERSEVERANCE: endurance determination and hard work lead to success
16. Belekela kamuso PERSEVERANCE
Work for tomorrow
17. Fo kusina mifufuzo hakuna munati. PERSEVERANCE
Without sweat there is nothing sweet.
18. Kushekaala inge mezi mwa mukeke PERSEVERANCE
To sit like water in a dish
19. Mutu wa lisafa kwakubina ukona kupepa sikwala PERSEVERANCE
Even a bad dancer can give birth to a good one
20. Saa tundamezi lishewa konji asitongole PERSEVERANCE
The woodpecker only perseveres by knocking
21. Tou haimelwi ki manaka ayona PERSERVERANCE
An elephant can’t fail to lift its tusks
22. Upunyize lisuba PERSEVERANCE
You have broken through
SELF-RELIANCE: Do not be dependant
23. Ha ufumile hahulu likomu unoca kwateñi SELF-RELIANCE
When you are rich in cattle, eat some.
24. Haunzopila uno itimela kukupa maswe SELF-RELIANCE
To live you should grow food, it is bad to beg
25. Kusabela sika kwahule SELF-RELIANCE
To fear things from afar
THANKFULNESS Caution against ingratitude
26. Mubangwa ni muwin’a nganga THANKFULNESS
A patient is a slave to the doctor
27. Wapulama mukuba kale, mukuba balelo mbalimbulula If you forget those who gave long ago, those intending to give today will be disillusioned THANKFULNESS
WISDOM: Intelligence, knowledge and experience with age bring wisdom
28. Kgomu ha e nye bolokwe kaofela (Sotho) WISDOM
A cow does not excrete all its dung
29. Kuyaka musi, kusiya mashala WISDOM
To kindle the smoke and leave the charcoal
30. Kwalaelwa yanani mahe, ni wena, ndiala, utwele fateñi. WISDOM
When a mother is giving her child advice, let the orphan listen.
31. Lunya lwa noha WISDOM
The cruelty of a snake
32. Lwaka koya isiñ ko uzwa WISDOM
Insult what is to come, not that which has been
33. Sakufa ngenda kasikeebaa ndambo* WISDOM
What kills a visitor doesn’t kill a local
34. Tau, ha ica mutu yamaswe hamusaibulai, kamuso itaca yomunde WISDOM
When a lion eats a bad man and you don’t kill it, it will eat a good man tomorrow