Orderliness and Fitness

1. The millipede says that he did not cry when someone stepped on him, but the one who stepped on his foot did the crying:  One who harms another person cries, but the one he harms does not.  (Persecutor often cries more.)

2. When a man stays at home waiting for someone, his feet do not kill him:  One who is in an advantageous position does not complain.  (A man's house is his castle.  A man having advantage over another does not worry.)

3. When a good spot is prepared for a woman to bathe in, the water will splash vigorously:  One who is in a good situation has no cares.  (Fortunate people do not care.)

4. When a young man lacks money, he complains that his wife's manners are not good:  Hardship brings a cessation of ________.  (Hardship brings misery and complaint.)

5. If you tell a knife to be a knife, it says that it will be a kitchen knife:  To have pride.  (Arrogance and pride.)

6. One who rejoices in eating a small part of a goat, what if he finds out that his friends ate the goat's entire carcass:  cf.  A little learning is a dangerous thing.  (Being very proud of little achievement.)

7. If swelling of the testes were not something between the legs, it would not be as heavy as what the head carries:  A thing is what it is.

8. When the dog looks for a fight, let the civet cat bite him:  One finds what one seeks.

9. If one has no salt and no pepper, will a guest who brings two pots of wine have nothing to eat?  If a one owes money, it does not follow that if the creditor dies the person will not have to repay the debt.

10. The back does not know when someone is mocking it:  One does not know the bad words spoken about him when he is not at home.  (A person's presence matters a great deal.)

11. The heart is a shoulder bag--each person wears his own.  One does not know what his companion thinks about him until he speaks out and reveals it to him.  (Everybody has his own problems.)

12. The thief's brother feels more shame than does the thief himself:  One who has a good conscience is disgusted by sin.  (Good people hate evil.)

13. The parrot flies upward because of too much talking; when he arrives he is surrounded by talking:  What people try to avoid is what they are constantly confronted with.  (Our problems confront us always.)

14.  Sleep still comes to a troubled person [he is not exempted from sleep]:  Hunger does not abandon a poor person.  (A person in difficulties does not care for pleasure.)

15. The tongue uses skill to reside in the mouth.  Wisdom is exceedingly profitable.  (Wisdom is a strong instrument.)

16. When one who is informed hears, does he know the mind of the alleged thief?  What one holds in the hand is best.  (Making sure before taking resolution.)

17. øOgazî says that the reason that two people should go to the farm together is that what one eye does not see the other eye sees:  One person's strength is smaller than that of two people.  (Two heads are better than one.)

18. When a strong man is constantly praised, he fights emptyhanded and is carried away in a worn-out basket:  Overpraising a person causes him to make an error.  (Flattering and overconfidence lead to destruction.)

19. If a child hungers for a palm nut it does not upset his stomach:  What a person wants does not kill him.  (We bear troubles we bring on ourselves.)

20. If a child witnesses a fight in which the opponents are separated, he will want to fight in the future:  One who has not experienced a thing does not know what it is.  (cf. The child who is carried on the back has a stomach full of feces.)

21. When a child swells his chest with confidence, he thinks he can carry the whole earth on his head:  When one has a small thing, it causes him to be swell-headed.  (Growing pompous because of a little achievement.)

22. If the bird who has not perched gives off 20 excretions, when he finally perches on a tree, how many excretions will he give off?:  Doing something unexpected (bad) with a small opportunity given a person.  (Misuse of a little opportunity given.)

23. The tree which spreads across the road must be the victim of the pear knife:  (Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.)

Carefulness and Respect

1. Postponement deprived the toad of growing a tail:  To postpone something causes one to fail to do it.  (Procrastination is the thief of time.)

2. Not speaking works against elders, but not doing goes against children.  It is better for a person to tell what is on his mind than to swallow it.  (Speaking out one's mind is better.)

3. One does not poke the eye with the same thing one uses to poke the ear:  It is not good to use something serious to provoke laughter.  (Do not play with fire or sacred things.)

4. One who wants something big will find the jaw of an elephant:  What one seeks he finds.  (What a person wants, he gets.)

5. One will not contribute his opinion to revile me because his mother is not a native of Awka:  People do things according to the level of their maturity.  (Water finds its own level.)

6. If the rat falls into the water with the lizard, the lizard will get dry but the rat will not [the lizard is smooth and the rat is hairy]:  Everyone should behave according to the way his god created him.  (Limitation is not good.)

7.  The tortoise is strong only in cunning:  One not being strong.  (Being weak.)

8. One does not use someone else's eyes to see the road.  Let a person behave according to the way his god created him.  (A person's own is his own.)

9. If a wealthy man behaves like a poor man, he is laughed at:  Things being as they ought to be.  (People should maintain their dignity.)

10. The child does not defecate in a spot where the grass is taller than he is:  cf.  A child should speak  according to his age.

11. If the lizard does not follow lizard behavior, children will play tricks on him during dry and rainy seasons.  A person ought to be doing what he is well known for.

12. The stick that is compared to the snake is not the same as the snake itself:  The way a thing is described is not always the way a thing really is.  (People often exaggerate.)

13. The animal who leads the way drinks good water:  One who is first to do a thing has good luck.  (First person is always lucky.)

14. One hand does not tie a package:  There is a point where one person's ability comes to an end.  (One man's endeavor has a limitation.)

15. Only those who are well off [can afford to] fight with their walking-sticks:  (People who have can afford waste or surplus.)

16. The dog says let a ball of fufu be thrown to him in the compound, but let him be left to fight his own fight with the spirits.  [He prefers to protect himself.]

17. A person grimacing in contemptuous avoidance at someone stronger than he is "looking down" at him [in the sense of glaring at him resentfully and harboring thoughts of overcoming him].  (A weak person is at the mercy of the strong.)

18. One does not stay on the ground and know which bat is pregnant.  ( A difficult condition is a set back.)

19. If a child who is not mature enough tries to find out what happened to his father,the same thing that happened to his father will happen to him:  A person should be well prepared for a thing before he attempts it.  (We should be prepared before attempting a thing.)

20. The reason we pound food is to eat the soup:  The mortar cannot pound food better than the teeth:  Doing a thing in the traditional way is best.  (Respect to whom respect is due.)

21. If two hands meet together on the plate, there follows a scramble for food.  (Disorderliness is disorderliness.)

22. Although there may not be enough bags to go around for the doctors, a fool carries two:  Collecting several things while others do not have any at all.  (Fair distribution is the goal.)

Deceit and Truth

1. If one uses his gun to shoot his plantain, it is his own gun and his own plantain:  One who cuts up his own things acts against himself.  (Cf. The chicken that sells its tail; the mole-cricket that licks [his own body] oil; the snail that locks himself inside his own shell.)  (A person who acts against his own interest harms himself.)

2. Gradual but continuous expenditure brings an end to wealth; A person expends his wealth slowly.  (Gradual but continuous expenditure liquidates wealth.)

3. Not having anything in the hand caused the thing in the mouth to be used up:  It is important to find out the cause of an event.  (The true cause of thing or event shall be found.)

4. Eating and denying having eaten is the reason that women do not grow mustaches:  Denying the way things happen [refusing to face reality] brings on an unsettled condition.  (Complaint mania leads to unhealthy condition or want.)

5. Excessive sympathy begins to look like mockery:  One does not take excessive sympathy seriously.  (People do not value excessive sympathy.)

6. One who dances to get people to praise him does not fail to break his waist:  One who does things for show harms himself.  (He who pleases others generally loses.)

 7. One who talks continually about his illnesses is avoided by his friends:  A person should not talk publicly about everything he lacks.  (A person who exposes his wants to the public loses his respect.)

 8. When the hand handles the spoon, the stomach is killed by pride:  One who has good fortune befall him, afterwards treats others harshly.  (Pride leads to fall.)

 9. If another person [other than the one normally obligated to do so] conducts funeral rites, he is entitled to eat whatever is tied up on the ledge [a special place often built for the preparation of ceremonial foods--it was believed that certain foods should not be prepared in the wives' kitchens]:  One who works hard at things should reap the benefits of them.  (A laborer is worthy of his hire.)

10. One who has only one thing left has nothing:  Cf.  A one-eyed person owes a debt to blindness. When there is only a small amount of something remaining, it is as good as gone.  (What remains only one is almost finished.)

11. The firewood that the old woman gathered when she was young is what will warm her when she becomes old.  What a person earns [from his labor] when he is young and strong is what he will eat.  (Make hay while the sun shines.)

12. After the flying termite finishes flying about, it falls to the toad:  A thing follows its own destiny (or the way its God created it).  (Vanity is vanity.  Things follow their normal course.)

13. The sheep who has a male offspring has no children:  One who has something useless has nothing.  [Male sheep wander about and do not stay with the mothers.]  (A useless thing or possession is useless.)

14. When one sees something that is better than the farm, he sells his yam barn:  Everyone wants a good thing.  (Cf. Good wine needs no bush.  We do not mind what price we pay for a priceless thing.)

15. The herbalist who charges too much money does not cure the stomach:  One who charges too big a price for his work will not get jobs.  (Excessive charges are a hindrance to getting jobs.)

16. If one kills a cow to give to a hawk, he [the hawk] will still have his eye on something small [like a chicken] to eat:  Leaving something profitable to keep on looking at something unprofitable.  (Penny wise, pound foolish; meticulous.)

17. The child who learns playful bluffing with his father learns that hunger will kill him.  Taking something lightly which should not be taken lightly.  (Playing with important or sacred things.)

18. One who takes the oath on behalf of the chief brings down the consequences upon himself.  (Uneasy lies the head.)

19. If the blind person eats up the apple which he steps on, who will give him another?  (Make use of opportunity when you find it.)

20. If an adult eats most of the soup, children start to scramble for food.  Cf. If an adult starts a commotion, the children grab the nuts, go home  and eat.  (If elders cause trouble others will take advantage.)

21. It is said that an illness is not a good thing, yet someone says that the one who has a hydrocele [testical swelling] should also have a distended stomach.  (Things should have their limits.)

Preparedness and Precaution

1. The chicken advises her children to look up because that is the place from which comes the death that kills them:  Being careful about the things which give a person trouble.  (Being careful and cautious over one's enemies.)

2. If an old woman falls twice, the third time the number of things she is carrying will be counted:  If something happens repeatedly, there can be no more excuses given.  (There is no excuse for repeated failure.)

3. One does not lead a goat into the barn:  One does not entrust a person with something he will destroy.  (Man is not entrusted with what he will obviously spoil.)

4. One uses the feet to look for something which has fallen into the water.  (Carefulness is a method of success.)

5. One should not use an ear-probe to probe the eye.  (Serious things must be considered as such.)

6. One whose father was struck in the head by a bullet uses an iron pot to make himself a helmet:  One who has had something happen to him becomes cautious.  (Cf. The bee stings the dog.)

7. Baldheadedness no longer causes shame to Onitsha people.  (People do not care [about] their weakness.)

8. While you are giving advice to a yam thief, his mind is on carving a tool for digging yams.  (Being unrepentant.)

9. If a lizard runs away from the tree trunk, the dog will catch him.  (If one leaves the source of his strength, he is finished.)

10. The leopard is never asleep.  (From their seeds you will know them.)

11. When the hen walks, her babies must run a bit:  A person is equal to his difficulties.  (Our problems and difficulties are according to our strength.)

12. If one shows respect to the head of the cocoyam, the indigo vine on the cocoyam says that he has been respected too much.  (Mistaken kindness or weakness.)

13. One whose father was killed by a bushcow does not use a bushcow's horn for drinking wine.  Cf.  The bee stings the dog.  (A person fears what he has suffered.)

14. If one eats another person's coconut, let him also cultivate his own for others to eat.  (A person who enjoys the fruit of other people's labor should labor.)

15. One who seeks things which are invisible [blind to the eye]:  Cf. The hawk can not carry what is on its own shoulders.  (It is not easy to solve one's own problems.)

16. The sheep thinks about horns [only] when the goat butts it:  The foolish person runs from the rain only after it starts to drench him.  (Not providing for bad weather when there is the opportunity.)

17. Whoever starts his gathering in the early morning will have a full basket:  One should start early to do anything he wants to do.  (Make hay while the sun shines.  Early to bed and early to rise.  Well begun is half-done.)

18. Doing bad things may be easy, but looking the evildoer in the eye makes one ashamed:  A person ought to give some thought to the results of what he is doing.  (Evil doing is easy but not good.)

19. Wisdom [intelligence] comes as time goes by.  (Wisdom comes at its own time.)

20. A goat owned by two people sleeps in the compound [rather than in the proper goat-enclosure].  (Lack of proper care owing to two men being responsible.)

21. One must sip hot soup slowly and steadily.  (Slow and steady win the race.)

22. You have to keep your ear close to the ground to hear the sound of the black ant.  (Be careful and learn.)

23. If a child does not do a task well he will have to do it twice.  (Carelessness must lead to doing a thing all over again.)

24. The chicken says that it pecks [something] to death before eating it.  (Being cautious and calculating.)

25. The message sent indirectly [through others] becomes  gossip.  (Reported speech or message generally differs from the original.)

26. It is said that in gathering breadfruit one finds out who scrambles for food.  (From one's action we learn his character.)

27. The bat says that he knows he is ugly, therefore he flies at night.  (Minding one's business.  Taking precaution to avoid clash with others.)

28. If an older person does not hold back, he lets out secrets.  (Elders should not be flippant.)

29. One who has never had anything happen to his throat does not know that one uses saliva to eat a meal.  (We learn from experience.)

Taking Advantage

1. When an old woman reaches a place where fire has burned the earth [for land-clearing] she wishes she could move her bowels.  (Being happy or being in an advantage, or position and being ready to exploit it.)

2. One whose house is on fire should not go rat-hunting.  (First things first.)

3. The desire to eat is what causes people to beat a path to the king's door.  (People follow the easy path.)

4. What person, on having  salt [something good] put into his mouth, would say he does not like it?  (Everybody likes something good or valuable.)

5. One says that the bottom of his covered basket that was filled with locusts does not know when the locusts inside of it are all gone.  (Gradual consumption leads to total exhaustion.)

6. One should not blink the eye [as a signal] while it is dark.   (There is a time for everything.  Difficult situation is unfit for playing.)

7. There is no road close at hand that leads to Onitsha.  (There is no easy road to geometry.  Every achievement requires effort.)

Deliberate Misdeeds

1. Medicine which is impossible to prepare requires the heart of an ant.  (Impossible demand before the fulfillment of a thing or promise.)  [Refers to native doctor being unable to make the required medicine so he asks the patient to bring something impossible to get.]

2. The dog says he should be praised for having good teeth because he does not use a chewing-stick.  (Being abler or better than those who are more privileged.)

3. The tears a woman sheds for her co-wife [or other female relative] are like saying, "Quickly come out so you and I can vie for the husband."  (Leave off the important thing and pursue the trivial.)

4. An isikara  [type of stick easy to break] is not suitable for use as ube onya  [strong, flexible stick used to make trap].  (Being unsuitable for the occasion or condition.)

5. One should not look for something in the bag of a person who himself is needy.  (Asking a person who has not to give what he has not.)

Certainty and Uncertainty

1. If the gong sounds too much, it will be told where it was carved.  One who talks too much will be told what is his worth.  A thing has limits.  (Too much of everything is bad.  Manifestation of pride would lead to revelation of one's pride.)

2. A one-legged cricket goes to market ahead of his companions.  Each person knows his own strength.  (A person who knows his weakness or handicap makes allowance for them by vigilance.)

3. If the leopard eats too much, he seems to be sick:  If a person sits quietly, it looks as though he were weak.  Cf. If the leopard calms himself down, he and the goat sit down together.  (Abusing another's kindness, mistaken kindness.)

4. One has not even seen a hawk, yet says that a woman does not eat it:  One should have a thing in hand before he boasts of it.  (One must be certain of a thing before he boasts of it.  Being prepared before an event really comes.)

5. No one knows which stomach [womb] will give birth to a chief:  Everything is in God's hands.  There is a place where the wisdom of man comes to a halt.  No one knows tomorrow.  (Nobody knows tomorrow, i.e., what will happen in future.)

6. A pregnant woman does not know which way the child inside her womb is smiling at her.  It is difficult to know everything completely.  It is difficult to know who is against a person and who is for him.  (It is difficult to know true friends or well-wishers.)

7. One cannot cover up a pregnancy:  Some things cannot be hidden.  A thing that will eventually come out does not permit of secrecy.  (Certain things cannot be hidden.)

8. A journey should be slow and steady:  Patience and perseverance are  needed to accomplish difficult things.  (Patience conquers everything.  Carefulness leads to success.)

9. One who is preoccupied [has two thoughts] forgets to say "good morning."  A person who is very worried about something carries it in his mind.  A person's concerns do not allow him to do other things.  Cf. One whose house is burning does not hunt rats.  (One's difficulties or problems do not allow him to think of other things.)

10. Let the toad's brother tread on his stomach [to take out excess water], and the muskrat's brother pinch his mouth [in reproval].  Everyone should advise his friend.  (We must curb our evil tendency.  Advise your friend to stop his evil ways.)

Patience and Evil Disposition

1. When the mortar carries food it turns its back on the earth:  When a person is getting along well he says that as he has experienced things, so let it be for others.  Cf.  If a woman is getting along well in her husband's house, she forgets her father's house.  What a person has eaten is what he has in his stomach.  [What a person experiences is what belongs to him.] (Everybody to himself and let the devil take the hind part.  Selfishness.  Self first.)

2. His father is not the type of person who embraces, but embracing embraces his legs:  Things do not turn out as planned.  (Things cannot always happen as we wished them.  Deviation from normal.)

3. The chicken says that by the time he finishes gathering food for his god and presenting it to him, then goes to gather some for himself, night has fallen:  Not having a chance to do something for one's own benefit.  Being in a situation of working only for other people.  (Being too much devoted to other people's good.  Being unfortunate.)

4. One goes running to carry out the errand that is profitable.  A person does not regret running a profitable errand quickly.  (We are more prepared to labor for our own good.)
5. If a woman sees me and remembers what happened to her child, let the thing that happened to her child befall her also:  If one has a wicked heart toward a person, let evil befall him.  Cf. What one seeks is what he will find.  (He who does evil let evil befall him.)

6. The broom that sweeps the compound sweeps the house:  Doing evil that is not  forgotten.  (An evil deed that cannot be erased.  Evil that will last from generation to generation.  Everlasting damnation.)

7. Bad excrement smells bad:  An ugly person seeks attention.  (Evil deed throws itself open from secrecy.  Evil is followed by bad results.)