Shona People Proverbs

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Shona Translation Meaning
Kupedza nyota kuenda padziva. To quench thirst is to go to the pool. If help or information is wanted, one should go to an expert or an eyewitness.
Charovedzera charovedzera; gudo rakakwira mawere kwasviba. One who is used to something is one who is used to something; the baboon climbed the precipice in the dark. We do easily that to which we are accustomed.
Kuziva mbuya huudzwa. To know one’s in-laws means being told who they are. Wisdom comes from others.
Dzvinyu kuzamba zuva huona bako. For a lizard to bask in the sun is to have a cave in view. If you venture into danger, be sure you have a means of escape.
Chirema ndechina mazano chinotamba chakazendama kumadziro. A cripple is one who has sense; he dances while leaning against the walls. A person must come to terms with his limitations.
Mai musuva usingasehwi mumuto. Mother is a morsel but not dipped into gravy. Some persons are sacred, and not for common use.
Rina manyanga hariputirwi mumushunje. That which has horns is not concealed in a bundle of grass. Nothing can be hidden forever.
Tenda muchero wadya zvinogadza mwoyo. Be grateful for the fruit having eaten to satisfaction. Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
Tsvaga zano iwe une rakowo. Seek a plan when you have one of your own.
Muno kufamba kunenge kukavira nyimo, kutizira kuchinge kudyara nzungu, kucheuka kukange kutsindire’shwa. You have a walk like the planting of ground-peas, a run like the sowing of ground-nuts, a turning as in the capture of termites.
Ziriwo rechembere ziramba-waravira. The unattractive relish of an old woman is refused only after tasting it. Do not be put off by appearances.
Kuramba nyama yechidembo hunge uine yetsuro. To refuse the flesh of a polecat means you have that of a hare. Refusal of a gift implies you have no need of it. But accept a gift, no matter how humble, if you need it to live.
Kuramba dzvuku kuona jena. To reject a red one means seeing a white one. Do not refuse or reject anything unless you have something better.
Kwamairidigikira ndiko kwomoringa benya; kwamairinga benya ndiko kwomoridigikira. Where YOU used to visit is where you now turn up your nose; where you used to turn up your nose is where you now visit. People are fickle in their loyalties, and their friendship is swayed by a change of fortune.
Kureva ndokunei? Kutarisa kurevawo. What has speech got? Looking is also speaking.
N’ai kwadzo ndedzomucheche. Dzomukuru dzinoreva kudya. Genuine yawns belong to the child; those of an adult betoken food. Children are ingenuous, adults devious. They convey their meanings, for example when complaining, in an indirect way.
Ateyera mariva murutsva haachatyi mhapa kusviba. One who has set traps in burnt grass no longer fears his apron getting dirty. A man must take the consequences of his actions
Matukirwo ababa kunema mwana. The way a father is scolded is to chide a child in play. Reproof is best conveyed indirectly.
Kubaya, tange hama, vatorwa vakutye (When killing, first set on your kinsmen, so that strangers may respect you; viz. Be impartial if you would be respected)
Chinono chine ingwe; bere rinodya richifamba. Caution characterises the leopard; the hyena eats as he walks. No time like the present.
Zino irema rinosekerera warisingadi. The tooth is a fool it smiles at one it does not like. A smile can hide all sorts of inner feelings.
Usapedzera tsvimbo kuna vanamakuwe idzo hanga dzichauya. Do not use up sticks on go-away birds while the guineafowl have yet to come. Do not waste your time or substance on trifles.
Gombarume kudze soro. Kukudza dumbu wonge wave chana. Master, have a big head. If you have a big belly you become like a child. It is more important to have the intelligence to work for food than the mere appetite to enjoy it.
Mwana washe muranda kumwe. The son of a chief is a subject elsewhere.
Chafamba chasvava. One who has travelled has faded. Away from home one loses importance.
Kurava mbudzi nedzisipo kurava nedzava matowo. Counting even absent goats means counting even dead ones (those which have become hides). Do not rely on something of which you are not certain.
Rwomuranda rwakoneswa norwashe; rwashe rwakoneswa nemvura kunaya. The subject’s journey was prevented by the chief’s; the chief’s was prevented by the rain. There is no one without a superior.
Zizi kurungwa munyu roti, ‘Ndava hukuwo’. If an owl is seasoned with salt it thinks, ‘I’m a chicken now too’ A person is out of place in company with people with whom he has nothing in common, though he may strive to appear as one of them.
Chivendekete anoseka chimedure. Cracked laughs at broken. The pot calls the kettle black.
Pabva zino rave vende. Where a tooth has come out there is now a gap. Death destroys symmetry and leaves empty places.
Chafamba kamwe hachiteyewi. Something that has passed only once is not trapped. A single transgression is not taken serious account of.
Kwadzinorohwa matumburira ndiko kwadzinomhanyira. Where they are kicked in the belly is the place to which they run. Harshness attracts more than kindness, for example it is held that women are attracted to harsh men.
Chapadare chakakandwa parurimi rwavapfuuri; chomumba ehiri mumhepo. A matter arising in court is thrown to the tongues of passersby; that arising in the home stays in the air within. In regard to public affairs one may speak openly, but not about domestic affairs.
Rega kuyera nyoka ncgavi iyo iripo. Do not measure a snake with string while it is present itself. Do not substitute false imitations for the real thing.
Mazvokuda kufa namaronda enyora. It’s a deliberate choice to die from the wounds of tattoo marks. Consequences of our own choice can’t be blamed on others.
Dare harizondi munhu; rinozonda mhosva. A court does not hate the man; it hates the crime. A court should be impartial.
Rukova rwizi; kuyambuka unokwinya nguo. A brook is a river; when crossing you tuck up your clothes. A humble disposition is required to overcome difficulties.
Chomukuru hachikumbirwi. The property of an elder is not asked for. Elders use their own discretion.
Chomukuru anopa omene. The property of an elder he gives away himself.
Chitende chinorema ndechine mhodzi. The gourd which is heavy is the one which has seeds. Respect is accorded to inner qualities rather than to outward appearance.
Muto wetsenza ndiwo mumwe. Soup made from tuber roots is one and the same. The attraction of variety, for example in women, is an illusion.
Benzi kunge riri rako; kudzana kwaro unopururudza. Let a fool be your own (kin), his dancing you’ll applaud. Though others may laugh at the efforts or faults of your own children, you will find grounds to encourage them.
Ishungu dzomutana waswera padare kuramba nemhandire seane meno. It’s the ill-nature of an old man at the meeting place to begrudge others even mealie grains as if he had the teeth to munch them. A comment on meanness.
Maramba-kukombwa maramba-hweni. One who won’t be surrounded is one who won’t be visited.
Kubikira mweni kumudzinga. To cook, for a stranger is to get rid of him. Do not be too ready with help for others if you wish to retain their presence or their respect.
Kukokwa kwasamusha kukokwa kwavagere naye. The invitation of a village head is the invitation of those who dwell with him.
Kukonwa kwedare kukonwa kwamambo. For a court to be convinced means the chief is convinced.
Panodya ishe varanda vanodyawo. When the chief eats the subjects eat as well. The office of the chief benefits his people.
Pasi nyimo makunguo aizodyei? If there were no ground-peas what would the crows eat? If I were not here you would have found another girl to woo.
Kupa kuturika. To give is to hang up. Giving to help others is a good investment.
Mutsa worutsoka kuperekedza ziso. The stupidity of the foot is to accompany the eye. It is stupid to accompany someone on some errand from which one cannot profit oneself.
Kuchengeta imbwa yomweni kuda mwene wayo. To look after the dog of a stranger is to love its owner. Love me, love my dog.
Aguta haaoneki. One who has had his fill does not bid farewell. He leaves because he has nothing further to ask.
Chisi chako hachibatsiri; unodya wakaringa kumusuwo. What does not belong to you is of no use; you eat facing the doorway. One cannot enjoy stolen property, or use borrowed goods with a relaxed mind.
Kandiro kanoenda kunobva kamwe. A small dish goes whence comes another small one. One good turn deserves another.
Kandiro enda; kandiro dzoka. Little dish go; little dish come back. One good turn deserves another.
Chitsva chitsva; munamba wejenachena. What is new is new; it is white porridge made with beestings. New ways attract a following.
Kudada kwavari mugomo kukumbira vari pasi mapfiwa. Arrogance of those on the hill is to ask those on the plain for hearth-stones. It is arrogant, not humble, for those who havp plentv to bc;r from those who have little.
Ishe ndishe; muranda muranda. A chief is a chief; a subject is a subject. One’s manner of acting should accord with one’s position in society.
Pakukutu hapaurayi. A hard bed does not kill. Discomfort need not rob a man of his own dignity.
Pachapwa madziva miramba tichanyurura. When pools dry up we fish out the barbels. The death of one man brings benefits to others.
Kurera imbwa nomukaka mangwana inofuma yokuruma. Bring up a dog on milk it will bite you first thing the next day. One may spoil others by over-indulgence.
Vataitururira matohwe nhasi ndivo votiseka maparapadzwa. Those for whom we got down snot apples are the ones who laugh at our bruises today. Kindness is not repaid bv respect.
Usaguta ukasunda dura. Do not get so full as to overturn the barn. Do not be improvident.
Kure ndokuna amai. Kune mukadzi unofa wasvika. Far is where mother is. Where wife is you risk death to reach. The difficulty in any venture is relative to one’s interest.
Kure kwegava ndokusina mutsubvu. Far for a jackal is where there is no mutsubvu fruit tree. The attractiveness of any work depends upon one’s interest.
Mwana muduku kubvuma rwendo; rwake ruri mberi. If a child agrees to an errand his own errand lies ahead. One will endure inconvenience if one’s interest is involved.
Apunyaira haashayi misodzi. One who has become emotionally upset does not lack tears. Exertion brings some reward.
Chidokodoko chirere-muviri; chikuru chinozouya wakora. A very little is sustenance for the body; more will come later when it is fat. From small beginnings come great things.
Nzombe huru yakabva mukurerwa. A big bull resulted from being nurtured. Big results have small but indispensible beginnings.
Chakafukidza dzimba matenga. What covers houses are the roofs. A peaceful exterior may hide trouble inside.
Ashamba haanokorerwi. One who has washed does not have stiff porridge broken off for him, is not helped to food. A cultured person is entitled to proper respect.
Utsva hworurimi hahuna marapiro. A burn on the tongue cannot be treated. Some problems have no solution.
Panoda mwoyo nzira haisviki. Where the heart longs to be the path never reaches. A watched pot never boils.
Muroyi munhu kubayiwa anochemawo. A witch is human when pricked she too cries. No person, no matter how much he boasts, is invulnerable.
Hwahwa hahuna mbuva. Beer is no food for a journey.
Mwoyochena ndowei bere kugarira munhu akafa? What kindness is it for a hyena to mount guard over a dead man? A comment on an offer of help not entirely disinterested or which is hypocritical.
Vaviri vaviri wechitatu muzvinaguhwa. Two are a pair a third is a gossip.
Chipa-muchena; kupfuma mudzimu wake. It is help to a poor man; riches are his spirit’s affair. A poor man will not emerge from his poverty, though he is helped, since that is his lot.
Muromo haupi chinopa maoko. The mouth does not give what gives are the hands.
Muromo haupi, chinopa maoko. The mouth does not give, what gives are the hands. Deeds not words.
Kutaura kudzikisira; kuita makata. Speech is like going downhill; action is like going uphill. Deeds not words.
Shungu dzembwa dziri mumwoyo huhukura ndiko kududza. A dog’s feelings are in its heart; barking is their expression. Inner feelings will come out.
Inotanda yomunyepi; younyerere haitandi. It chases, does the boaster’s (dog); the modest man’s does not chase. Boasting achieves more than performance.
Rambakuudzwa akazoonekwa nembonje pahuma. Headstrong was found with a head wound.
Zviururwi zvinofara kana kondo afa ziso. The frogs rejoice when the hammer-head has lost its eye. When the cat’s away, the mice do play.
Kufa izuva rimwe; kuora igore. Death is one day; corruption a year. Beware of what may harm you and have long-lasting consequences.
Chinokanganwa idemo Chitsiga hachikanganwe. What forgets is the axe the faggot does not forget.
Mwovochena unobayisa. A kind heart gets one killed. Kind hearts are soonest wronged.
Potsi haarwirwi; aorwirwa ndiPiri. Number One is not fought over; he who is fought over is Number Two. Action may not be taken against an offence until it is repeated.
Dzafura churu chimwe dzava nzivani. Those that have grazed at one anthill have become acquainted. Experience once shared unites people ever after.
Hukwana inodya ndeiri pana mai. The chick that feeds is the one that is close to its mother. Humility is more profitable than pride.
Imbwa payadyira haipakanganwi. The place where a dog has fed it does not forget. Help given in time of need is remembered.
Manenji kuona kamba ichitamba nembudzi. It’s a marvel to see a leopard playing with a goat. A suspicious comment on something which appears unnatural.
Afirwa haaringwi kumeso. One who is bereaved is not looked in the face. Actions or words made under stress of sorrow are not to be taken seriously.
Akweva sanzu akweva namashizha aro. One who has pulled a branch along has pulled along its leaves. Inherit a wife and you inherit her children as well.
Atswinya arwa. One who has pinched has fought. Every little contribution counts.
Chomungozva chinodyiwa nowabata mwana. Food from a nursing mother is eaten by one who holds her child. One good turn deserves another.
Chawawana idya nehama; mutorwa ane hanganwa. Eat what you have with a kinsman; a stranger forgets. Blood is thicker than water.
Vaviri vaviri; wechitatu muzvinaguhwa. Two people a pair; a third is a slanderer. To keep a secret three are too many.

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