Truth and Sincerity

1.   The monkey said that she would not deny that her child whom she carried on her back ate up fruit,  because she did not know whether he stretched out his hand and plucked fruit:  A person should speak about what he knows.  (One can speak only about things of which he is certain.)

2.   Laughter does not show friendship [love]:  The behavior or the face of a person can conceal what is in his heart.  (All that glitters is not gold.)

3.   The  word which is spoken is agreed to by a nod of the head.   [Something already discussed and agreed to requires only a nod of the head for confirmation.]  What has been mutually agreed upon is not difficult of performance.  (Mutual agreement is key to success.)

4.   It is he who owns the corpse who carries it at the head.  [The load is heavier at the head end of the coffin.]  Everyone must do the work which falls to him.  (One must bear one's responsibility.)

5.   What are we going to do with a child who puts on a loincloth and drinks from his mother's breast?  [A very young child would not wear clothes.  If he is old enough to wear a loincloth he would be too old to be breastfeeding.]  What shall we do to one who deliberately commits an abomination or something the land abhors?  (Abomination committed by full grown up people is difficult to cleanse.)

6.  One who does things when he can afford to do them  [one who does when he has] is better than a thief.  One who spends lavishly is better than one who steals.  (Spendthrift is better than roguery.)

7.   If you finish defecating but it does not cover the opening, it is dysentery.  To get something done to completion is important.  [Work to a good conclusion.]  (Well accomplished work should be always commended.)

8.   He who bathes in tears knows himself.  One who hides the bad thing he is doing knows that the bad thing is not good.  (Doing evil secretly is very bad.)

9.   If a person makes a will but does not die, he will be embarrassed.    It is good that a person should keep his promises.  (People should keep their words.)

10.  If the hen stops clucking, what will she use to train her children?  If one abandons his talents or his livelihood, he will be powerless.  (We must always care for our talent.)

11.  After the slave has served the chief, the rewards of the chieftaincy will reach him.  The right hand washes the left hand, and the left hand washes the right hand.  (Mutual respect leads to over-all understanding.)

12.  If we tell a thief to catch a chicken, he says that it will bite him.  A petty thief hides his bad deeds from people.  (Pretending to be innocent when one as a matter of practice commits such an offence or crime.)

13.  One does not tell a deaf person that war has broken out.  If a thing is drastic enough it affects everyone.  (A really strong event produces action.)

14.  A dog may refuse food but he does not refuse to answer a call.  No one should refuse to find out why he is being called.  (We must respond to calls.)

15.  If a deceitful person buries himself, one of his arms will stick out.  There are things one person will not be able to do; one who does bad things must be found out.  (Doing evil is not good.)  [Truth will out.]

16.  All trees grow in the forest but the ora  singled itself out.  The thing which identifies a person is what he is known by.  (Everything has its own identity or special quality of which it is proud.)

Kindness and Wickedness

1.   Regardless of how dysentery affects the cow, she will still fill the basket [after butchering].  A person is too big for a thing, which is to say that nothing can harm him.  (There is a limit to possibilities.)

2.  When the snake bites the tortoise he cuts his mouth:  To draw a line on the ground; that is, there is a place where a person's strength stops.  (There is a limit to effort.)

3.  When a son of the land does something bad, he is forcibly dragged through his father's courtyard:  The relatives of an evildoer do not rescue him when evil befalls him.  (People do not defend evils or evildoers.)

4.  If one rejoices when someone dies, the pain of death awaits him:  It is fitting that a person's companions should grieve when misfortune befalls him, because not every day is a happy one.  (It is bad to rejoice in the calamity of others.

5.  Greet the deaf person--if the sky does not hear, the earth will hear:  When you do a good deed, if man does not repay you, God will.  (Do good always.)

6.  Good salt returns from the market.  (A good thing sells itself.)  (Good wine needs no bush.)   [A good product does not need to be checked out--it speaks for itself.

7.  A soft word causes anger to turn back:  A humble heart helps settle quarrels.  (Humble words soften anger.)

8.  The grub [insect living in palm tree close to where wine is tapped] falls from above to the earth and the chicken goes to peck it up; the grub then asks it, "Since when have we had any quarrel with each other?":  To hate a person who has not done anything.  (Quarreling or

9.  The works that we do are the things by which we are remembered:  Good deeds are better than all else.  (People are remembered by their good turns.)

10.   It is not the [same] mouth used to borrow palm kernels that is used to repay them:  When a person needs something he uses soft words, but when he gets what he is seeking, he speaks harshly.  (People are humble when they are in difficulties.)

Obedience and Disobedience

1.  When a woman scorns her husband, her rear end dries up [she loses moral support]:  A person should not despise the source of his strength.  (People should respect those to whom respect is due.)

2.  A stubborn [strong-eared] chicken hears things in the stew pot:  One who is disobedient takes the consequences of what he does.  (It does not pay to be disobedient or obstinate.) [Note:  /nti ike/,  "strong-
      eared," can also mean "partially deaf," usually referring to humans.]

3.  If an old woman stubbornly builds herself a spacious compound, her dead body is carried to her own soup:  A thing ought to be  fitting.  (People should not attempt what is beyond their reach.)

4.  Seeing but not speaking is characteristic of eelders; speaking but not listening is characteristic of younger people:  Everyone should speak the truth, that is, give advice; it is then the listener's responsibility  to accept it.  (People must give advice whether it is accepted or not.)

5.  If advice is given to a head but it does not hear, when it enters the bag, it hears [after being cut off]:  One who does not agree agrees when he is on the death-mat.  (People must give advice whether it is accepted or not.)

6.  The child who washes his body [only] on his stomach [being too young to know how to bathe properly] knows nothing about evil:  To be pure in heart; not doing any wrong.  (Innocence.  Literally:  A child is innocent.)

7.  Rat, do not chew the doctor's bag on purpose, and doctor, do not starve the rat on purpose.  Do not purposely do bad things.  (Live and let live.)

8.  One who does not agree agrees on the death mat:  Disobedience ought to have a limit.  (People cannot always escape punishment for their evil deeds.)

9.  One who serves benefits by the service:  Good behavior brings love.  (By serving others we ourselves gain.

10. Obedience is better than making sacrifices to the gods:  To do what one is told to do is better than any other thing he does, no matter how great it is.  (To obey is better than sacrifice.)

11. The grasshopper which was killed by the okpoko  was deaf. Failure to listen causes waste.  (Obstinacy leads to ruin.)

12. The old woman who provokes a fight and is not pushed to the ground, another day will provoke again:  A person who has not seen a thing says that he wants to see it.   (We learn by experience.)

Wisdom and Foolishness

1.  One does not tell a deaf person that war has broken out:  An important or powerful thing demonstrates itself.  (Seeing is believing; an effect manifests itself.)

2.  The ant said that he knew what it would be like for him in the rainy season, then used the dry season to gather his food:  It is best to be prepared for things.  (Forewarned is forearmed.  Make hay while the sun shines.  Being prepared for difficult times.)

3.  It is not by staring hard that one sees the road [or understands what is going on]:  A noisy show does not imply knowledge.  (Empty vessels make a great deal of noise.  Bold looks do not mean courage.)

4.  A wise man in Aba is a fool in Abba:  There is no one who knows everything.  (A wise man can be outpointed by a fool.)

5.  A planned war does not affect a lame person [he has time to escape]:  A thing which is known about does not make a person feel nervous. (Forewarned is forearmed.)

6.  Bad deeds affect the doer, good deeds affect the doer:  It is not good to do bad deeds.  (The evil that men do lives after them.  We are affected by the evils we do.)

7.  Those who rush toward a fight do not know that fighting means death:  Doing things thoughtlessly brings destruction.  (Fools rush in where the angels fear to tread.)

8.  While applying eye-clearing medicine, someone comes and says to put some pepper in:  Spoiling something that is being done while one is trying to improve it.  (Worsening a situation by trying to improve it.)

9.  The general public does not know who is being weighed down by his problems:  It is difficult to know what people's problem's are.  (It is not easy to know the downtrodden.)

10. The poor person's goat is his cow:  We are proud of our possessions no matter how small they are.  (We are proud of our belongings however unimportant.)

11. The newborn child does not throw its father up:  Everything has its limit.  You have to crook your elbows in order to dance the ufio [funeral dance].  (First thing first; Respect to whom respect is due.)

12. When the black ant bites the buttocks it [the buttocks] learns some sense:   When a person experiences a difficulty, he learns something.  (We learn through difficulties or experience.)

13. The titled man, not knowing what to say, says that his companions have already said what he would have said:   Giving an excuse for something.   (Giving lame excuse for not doing a thing.)

14. The young man, when his girl friend is eating seed yam, says that he feels like planting it in the ground:  To waste a person's strength.

15.  He who kills his plantain tree with his own gun does not know that it is his own property being lost:  One who negligently throws away or spoils things he himself owns.  (Allowing one's things to spoil through negligence.)

16. To say, "Lead me home," indicates fear, as there is no one who does not know the way to his own house:  Using sense in doing something.  (Being courteous and sympathetic.)

17. The big-eyed chief is not necessarily the "first-eyed":  Staring does not signify wisdom.  (Being over active does not necessarily signify wisdom.)

18. Hot soup should be eaten slowly:  Patience is involved in progress.  (Slow and steady win the race.)

19. Giving birth to a retarded child [lit., one who does not know anything] and the frequent loss of newborn babies are brothers [two similar things]:  There is nothing worse than stupidity or ignorance.  (Ignorance is a dreadful disease.)

20. One who keeps on storing up yams should take time to visit his mother's home quarter because it is not the yam barn he will run to when he is in trouble:  A person should put his trust in a reliable place, or a place where he can receive assistance.  (First things first.  Good appraisal of a situation.)

21. The eye is used to tell whether the corn is ripe:  It is not hard to know when something is good.  (We can easily know what is good.  Good wine needs no bush.)

22. The toad said that he stooped down while waiting for the one he had sent to buy him a chair:  Being prepared for things.  (Being prepared for a situation or event.  Preparedness.)

23. The eye is used to tell whether the corn is ripe:  A good thing sells itself.  (Good wine needs no bush.)

24. If you carry out the desires of a prisoner you will be setting him free [lit., telling him to come out and go home]:  To ignore something.  (Not being very scrupulous or meticulous.)

25. The chicken scratches ahead and scratches behind and asks her children which is better:  Things to come are greater than those in the past.   (The future is more important than the past.)

26. The mushroom that knows what it is doing says that its waist does  not reach the ground:  Ifie amanü n'ihe.  (Being careful and cautious.)

27. The proverb that is applied to the bird is applied as well to the nza  [a bird that is small even when fully grown, and considered wiser than other birds]:  What is good for a person is going to be good for his companions.  (What is good for the goose is good for the gander.)

28.   Missing.

29. When a child is given too much, he asks whether he really owns all of this:   Things satisfying a person.  (Being satisfied.)

30. If dog meat is prepared carefully, even rice-lovers will eat it:  Doing something good makes things look attractive.    (Carefulness and devotion improves a situation or a thing.

31. A well-traveled child exceeds a gray-haired person in knowledge.  Knowledge does not come from age:  One who travels is very knowledgeable.  (Travelling makes one wise; wisdom is not synonymous with old age.)

32. While attempting to satisfy his curiosity, the bullet struck  the monkey in the head:  Stubbornness or meticulousness brings destruction or trouble.  (Over simplicity is not good.)

33. The child's cry yields no good results from the confirmed bachelor:  The thing we know nothing about is not pleasing to us.  (We do not care for what we do not like.)

34. The slave who laughs when he sees his companion's grave being dug [with an mbazu, a long stick with flattened end] should remember that his day is coming.  A person finds out that what happens to his companions happens to him.  (We learn from experience.)

35. If you speak proverbs to a wise person, he will understand; if you speak them to a fool, he will head straight for the bush.  A small word is enough for a wise man.  (A word is enough for the wise.)

36. One speaks in proverbs to a fool in order to confuse him:  One does not expect an ignorant person to show wisdom.  (We do not expect wisdom from a fool.)

37. One moves in an age group or in a group of those who are his equal in knowledge:  Every person knows the one who is his equal.  (Being of the same age does not mean being equally wise.)

38. You should not, until it is night time, speak badly of one who worships his personal god.  You should give a person a chance before talking against him.  (Don't draw conclusion until the end.)

39. You should not go past your farm with a thief. You should not give a dog meat to keep:  You should not deliberately spoil things.  (People do not deliberately pave way for destruction or a loss.)

40. The small yam is used to recognize fertile soil:   The thing which will be profitable demonstrates itself.  (Good signs augur well.)

41. Scoop up water while it is shallow:  A person should do his work when it is possible to do it.  (Make hay while the sun shines.)

42. One who goes to a land where they cut off ears should cut off his own and contribute it:  Doing things which the times require.   (When you are at Rome do like the Romans.)

43. The wise child is an honor to his father:  The good child brings his father joy.  (Wise child is an honor to his parents.

44.  When showing and knowing live together, harmony will not be absent. (Refers to one person showing bad behavior and the other knowing but not making an issue ofit):  One who seeks peace should not provoke his companions to anger.  (Kindness begets kindness; love brings about love and devotion.

45. Adults use their eyes to divide the food in the pot:  The wise man is a leader of his own people.  (Wise people settle their own problems.)

46. If one tears his mat he sleeps on the ground:  If one kills his mother he  makes himself an orphan.  (If one throws away or wastes his assets,  he suffers the consequences of his action.)

47. One whose house is burning does not catch rats (they scurry around, brought out by the fire):  A man should not play games while he is working at things which are important to him.  (First things first.)

48. One who throws away the seed pod does not realize that he has thrown away a basket of vegetables:  A person ought to take good care of the small things he has.  (Penny wise, pound foolish.)

49. An effective word is not long.  One word said to a smart person is enough for him.  (A word to the wise is sufficient.)

50. A foolish person runs from the rain when the rain has already soaked him through:  One should do things at the right time.  (Make hay while the sun shines.)

51. The talk of a previous day comes as a surprise to a guest:  One who was not at home is unable to explain things that happened while he was out.  (Difficulty is not understanding a situation.)

52.  A fly who does not have an advisor follows the corpse into the grave, the spirit-land:  A man should not always do what he thinks in his heart.  (Foolishness or ignorance leads to destruction.)

53.  The thing that a child does is in his thoughts:  The child knows what he wants to say but fear of his elders prevents him from speaking.  (Lack of wisdom is responsible for misfortunes.)

54. When there seems to be no way to do a thing, the way to do it will show itself.  What a small person cannot do, a big person can do.  (There is a way for doing everything:  Where there is a will there is a way.)

55. A person should not, because of famine, sell the mother who bore him.  Everyone should be patient during difficulties.  (Being prepared to face difficulties or temptations.

56. A person should not express his dislikes when there is no famine:  A person eats what he does not really like when famine prevails.  (A man should not expose his weakness.)  [During famine you will be forced to eat what you earlier said you disliked.]

57. Use the afternoon to hunt the black goat:  People do not hunt black goats at night.  (Make hay while the sun shines.  Do things at the right time when you have the chance.)

58. The wise child kills the one who killed his father, but if he is foolish, the one who killed his father kills him:  Wisdom should be applied to difficult work.  (Wisdom helps in overcoming difficulties.)

59. It is not necessary to tell a wise person to get out of the sun:  A wise person uses his head in working.  (A wise man makes use of his senses.)

60. The hot-tempered  man dies before the one who has committed a crime:  A hot temper is bad.  (Hot temper leads to destruction.)

61. A wise woman is her husband's crown:  A true woman brings her husband a good reputation.  (Good behavior brings blessing.)

62. Hunger goes also to the place of the wealthy:  Let everyone stay on his own.  (People should find their equals.)

63. Pot carriers are not reliable traders (like market people)--if they stub their toes on thorns,  they pick up empty baskets.  (Things should follow their normal course.)

64. The foolish person does not know that his brother is a guest:  Treat people well when you have the opportunity.  (Do good when you have the time.)

65. The child who asks questions does not go astray:  Questions help us to know things.  (By asking we learn.)

66. One who was not there when a corpse was buried is apt to start with the leg in exhuming it: The thing that a person is familiar with he knows the details of.  (If we don't know a thing, we cannot do it well.)

67. If a woman is persuasive (has a sweet tongue), her husband does not refuse to eat her food:  A good character brings blessings.  (Good behavior brings blessing.)

68. One who has traveled has more knowledge than an elder:  Traveling helps in knowing things.  (Traveling makes one wise.)

69. When a child speaks, we know how mature he is (what his years are equal to).  A man's words are used to judge his mind.  (We know the depth of a man's mind through his words.)

70. One who does not know anyone superior to himself is foolish:  Let the deeds of every person be equal to his strength.  (Respect to everybody [to whom] respect is due.  Acknowledging our superiors.)

71. One should notjoin a madman in mad practices:  It is not good to follow an evildoer in the bad things he does.  (We shall not copy the evil doer.)

72. Instead of becoming blind, let me be a hunchback:  It is better to do good things.  (It is better to do good.)

73. When sickness is cured, the foolish man forgets the doctor who cured him.  Forgetting things quickly.  (We forget too soon.)

74. It is better to give than to receive:  There is more praise for the giver.  (Giving is better than receiving.)

75. If one breaks the palm nut shell and throws away the stone, does he think that famine will not return?  Forgetting something quickly is not good.  (Forgetting too easily.)

76. A fool does not know when they are sharing the scoop of breadfruit:   A stupid person does not understand what is being said.   (The fool is always at sea.)

77. If the chicken stops clucking, what shall it use to train its young?  Something that becomes habitual.   (We cannot do away with habit already formed.)