Friday, 5 December 2014

Proverbs - Maloko

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


  1. Marion, It was good that you got in touch. I hope that some of these sayings may be of use to your character. We wish your children well in their preparations for their future work.
    With every blessing
    Keith & I

  2. Hi Benedict, Last year we had no-one as we had no doc for mentoring or accommodation. Hospital e-mail
    Best wishes