1. The atanî [animal in squirrel family] says that its family members donate money to it when they have not yet started dancing the most fascinating [eye-blinding] part of the dance.  Do something for a person at the time that it is helpful to him.

2. The oil palm bearing fruit today and ripening today is not a good thing.  If you do not plan a thing well and then start to do it, it does not yield good results.

3. One should search for a black goat before nightfall:  Doing something at the right time.

4. If the duiker escapes today's hunting, there is plenty of hunting left:  A thing's turn comes out in its own time.  Cf. There are plenty of tomorrows.  (Tomorrows have no end.)

5. If the animal gets away today, tomorrow is another hunting day:  The time for something good lies in the future.

6. You do not recognize a black goat at night:  Everything has its own time.

7. The old woman stayed at her in-laws' place while her okra got too ripe:  Putting things off.  (Procrastination.)

8. When a woman comes at first, she is called [answers to the name of] a beautiful woman; when she stays a while,  she is regarded as ordinary:  People rejoice over something new.  People tire of things very quickly.  (Things lose their appeal very quickly.)

9. What a man creates in youth is what he reaps in adulthood:  Doing something when you have the capability.  (Make hay while the sun shines.)

10. Constantly going to and fro keeps the duiker from having a big stomach.  Not staying in one place or not sticking to one thing brings trouble.

11. One whose age grade takesozo  title should start to avoid things that have fallen on the ground:  A person should do what is right for his age group.

12. One who walks fast does not [stop to] watch the monkey:  A man who has important business does not fidget [waste time] (act as though it did not exist).

13. The child who watches the monkey does not go to work:  One who abandons the right way gets lost.

14. One who gets things done quickly goes home at night:  Being careful about things will keep one from making a mistake (spoiling things).

15. Green bean says that sleep that lasts for a week is the same as death:  If a thing is done in excess of the way it should be done, it will be known that something is wrong and that the person has gone too far.

16. Always "coming, coming" [never ready] made the toad not to sprout a tail:  Best to do things on time.  (Procrastination is the thief of time.)

17. The animal who leads the way drinks the best water:  The first one to do a thing receives the most praise or good things that result from it.

18. On hunting day one should hunt the cane-rat in its own habitat:  At a suitable time.  (At (or during) a suitable time.)

19. The bachelor who wants a woman immediately [today and tomorrow]-- with whom was he living before?   [What's his hurry?]  Being impatient when what a person wants fails to reach him; hurrying not being good.

20. The chicken that continually nibbles will one day be covered by the basket [overturned basket frequently used to keep a thing from being eaten by chickens]:  If one keeps on doing bad things, one day he receives the wages of his work.

21. Maturity means that when one is fully grown he must wait for others [to mature]:  Everything has a place where it comes to a halt.

22. Chicken says that one does not see his anus except when the wind blows.  When something happens, a person's defects are discovered.

23. One who is alive will do what he plans:  As long as there is life, anyone will do what he plans or what he has in mind.

Envy and Jealousy

1. Tortoise says that God did him a favor in giving him an iron garment:  One who has a place to lay his hands [security] can boast.  (A person naturally provided for is unworried.)

2. Big eyes [jealousy] does not mean that one must have eyes as big as an orange:  Jealousy means a person wanting everything to belong to him.  (Size alone does not measure the effect or strength of a thing.)  [Note:  ike  is used with certain fruits such as orange, cherry, pumpkin, etc. to denote the size of one of them.  Mkpuru is used to denote one of them.]

3. A woman who sighs and groans creates false fears:  It is what a thing does that earns it respect or honor.  (Effectiveness of a thing earns its respect.)

4. One who says that ashes have no effect should take them and put them in his eyes:  We discover the effectiveness of a thing through what it does.  (The effectiveness or the strength of a thing is known by the result.)

5. One who does not know a person calls him "this one:"  People do not respect someone they do not know.  (People don't respect people they don't know.)

6. A situation that is not fitting signifies enmity:  It is through not loving that a person is persecuted.  (Hatred leads to persecution.)

7. The fly that is killed during [a person's] defecation is wasted:  If one destroys something because of something trivial, nothing will be gained from it.  (Do not care for trivialities.)

8. Not asking questions before eating causes death without illness [sudden, with no apparent cause]:  Not having limits where one stops doing a thing causes ruin.  (Uncontrolled and untrained behavior leads to ruin.)

9. If a certain palm nut falls and a certain chicken runs to carry it off, the palm nut says, "When did this happen?"  It is not good to act against someone who has done nothing against you.  (Unprovoked attack is unjustifiable.)

10. When the ant stings the buttocks it [the buttocks] learns wisdom (it has good sense):  A difficult thing makes a person learn something.  (We learn through difficulties.)

11. The gadfly says that continually running and pausing shows who is the strong man:  The strong man is known by difficult tasks.  Having sense and patience.  (Bravery is the sign of valor.)

Convenience and Inconvenience

1. When the bird perches on the fence, the fence dances and the bird dances:  One who gives trouble also gives himself trouble.  (If you trouble trouble, trouble will trouble you.)

2. The lizard says that one uses the head to agree to what has already been discussed:  There is no trouble where there is agreement.

3. If an itch bothers a human being, another human being scratches it, but if it bothers a wild animal, he goes and rubs his body against a tree.  A human being helps his friends.

4. A dog's game is that one falls for his companion and the other falls for his companion:  Through helping each other, things work out well.  Cf. The right washes the left hand, the left hand washes the right hand.  By one thing touching another, the gun fires.

5. The goat sweats but his hair keeps us from knowing it:  Everyone has something which bothers him or is on his mind.

6. The old man and his companions use their eyes to divide the meat that is in the soup:  Things are done with common sense.

7. Urinating together causes foam:  Doing something together causes it to be done well.

8.  If one person cooks food for many people, the people will eat up all the food, but if many people cook it, it will not be all eaten up:  A group of people is better than one person.

9. [To be told]"Take [food] and eat alone" is a bad thing:  It is bad for one to seek only his own welfare.  (Selfishness is bad.) [Poor explanation.]

10. One hand does not tie a package:  A person needs his companions' help.

11. If one finger defiles the oil it spreads to all of them:  If one person does something bad it will affect many people.

12. One person should not chase a lizard [ngwere ngarube :  type of lizard that is very clever].  Cf.  If a person buries himself his hand sticks out.

13. If one person carves up a he-goat, it seems as though it were pregnant [takes as long as cutting up two goats]:  What one person does turns out differently.

14. If the right hand washes the left hand, and the left hand washes the right hand, then they both are clean.

15. Front [face, forward] is good but back is better:  To have someone supporting [backing] you is better than strength.

16. One who holds someone to the ground holds himself.  If one does not want things to go well for the other person, things will not go well for himself.

17. The thoughts of one person are not enough for him:  (The adult does things as a mature person does.)

18. Who, when greeted with good will, will respond badly:  In sharing, everyone will lick [eat] something good.

19. One who chews does not know the experience of one who swallows.  Everyone lives with something that gives him trouble or suffering:  No one has everything.   [Known by Joel Nwamuo as "One who swallows does not know the experience of one who chews," referring to an old practice of mothers chewing food before giving it to their babies who are just beginning to eat solid food and have no teeth.]

20. One who has palm fruit should give it to the bush rat because the bush rat does not climb:  A person helps his fellow man.

21. If the rat jumps into the water with the lizard, when the lizard dries off will the rat also dry off?  If one does what his companion does, the results will not be the same for him as they are for the other person.

22. When sickness affects the eyes, it also affects the nose:  Having many troubles at the same time.  What affects a person affects his friends and relatives as well.

23. One tree does not make a forest:  One person cannot accomplish what is expected of a group of people.  One person alone cannot call out that he sees war on the plains.

24. Rat, don't purposely chew the doctor's bag; doctor, don't deliberately curse the rat.  No one should deliberately do something against his fellow man.  Cf. Dog, do not purposely chew the doctor's bag, and doctor, do not deliberately curse the dog.

25. Let no one die and let not his companions be lost:  Let one cut grass and  let another cut grass, but one should not call his companion a prisoner.  A person should not inconvenience his fellow man.

26. If you see an old woman eating chicken droppings, take them away from her, because if they give her a cough it will spread to everyone:  It is not good to wink at evil.  (Do not connive at evils.)

27. The crab says that he has two heads so that death cannot kill him, but death comes in between them and kills him.  No matter how a person is careful or watches out, what is going to happen is bound to happen.  (There is no armor against fate.)

Strength and Weakness

1. If friendship exists only when the mother returns from the market, it should stop:  Doing something for a person half-heartedly is not good.  (Doing a thing or favor half-heartedly is not good.)

2. The child who is carried on the back does not know that walking is painful:  One who has someone to do things for him does not know his sufferings.  Cf. A child who is treated with stomach medicine has frequent stools.  (A person always enjoying protection is weak.)

3. Green beans are not new to the small lizard:  Something a person is accustomed to; being addicted.    (Being adept at a thing; being accustomed to.)

4. One knows when the market where he trades is held:  What a person does (works at) he knows well. (One is at his best in his specialty.)

5. The bird a child knows the name of is Hawk:  Everyone has wisdom according to his age.  (Experience matters a great deal.)

6. If an adult says something, he follows through according to what he has:  Something that goes together with something else.  (Everything has what goes with it.)

7. One mother gives birth but not one god creates:  People's behavior and thoughts differ.  (People have different luck or idiosyncrasies.)

8. The child who sees too much of his mother's friend cuts her with a kitchen knife:  Constant fraternization causes scorn.  (Familiarity breeds contempt.)

9. He who climbs to the top of the kolanut tree should gather firewood for himself, because one does not climb to the top of the kolanut tree every day:  One should do things while he is young, because one is not young forever.  (Making full use of opportunity when it offers itself.)

10. The palm tree that is in the road knows for whom it should cause its fruit to fall:  Not all people can receive favors at the same time.  (A person knows for whom he should do a favor.)

11. As long as one is alive, the possibility of accomplishment still remains:  One should not kill himself because of others for whom things are going well.  (While there is life, there is hope [Dum spiro spero].  If we live, we shall accomplish our desire.)

12. If a lizard falls from the top of an iroko tree he says that if no one praises him, he will praise himself:  One who does something difficult deserves praise.  (If a person accomplishes a task, he deserves praise.)


1. One who comes to discuss something does not know that he comes to a place where there is arguing:  Talking does not create the child.  No matter how easy a thing is, it requires strength.  (Every job taxes one's energy.)

2. When a child sees a fight that has been stopped, he says that he really saw a fight:  One who has someone to do a thing for him does not know the pain of it.  One who has not experienced a thing says that he would not have put up with it.  (People do not care until they suffer the consequences.)

3. Green beans are not new to the small lizard:  Something a person is accustomed to.  Being addicted.  (Being adept at a thing; being accustomed to.)

4. If a child does his errand wrong, he has to do it a second time:  If one does not do a thing well, he has to do it again.  (Carelessness or want of care leads to a double expenditure of energy.)

5. When an old soothsayer performs a sacrifice, it is as though he gives it to the spirits in their mouths:  What a person knows how to do he does well.  If one does something he knows very well, it turns out different.  (What an expert does is always different, i.e. excels.)

5. A person knows when the market where he trades is held:  What a person does (or works at) he excels at:  (A person is at his best in whatever he specializes in.)

6. If a child does not see his mother, he says that the market is not yet over:  A person has an eye for the things he is looking for:  Cf. What an Onitsha man desires he fights for:  What is in a person's heart is what he sees.  (What we desire is what we appreciate.)

7. When a child tries to lift his father [playfully throw his father up], the father's wrapper covers his [the child's] eyes:  When a child does something that is beyond the bounds for him, he suffers the consequences of it.  Cf. Hang your bag where you will be able to reach it.  A person trying to do something too difficult for him and his shoulder not being strong enough for it.  (A person should not challenge his senior.)

8. The bird a child knows the name of is hawk:  People will be wise according to their ages.  (Experience matters a great deal.)

9. The woman who has married two men knows which one is better for her:  Cf. When something happens to a person he learns something.  A person learns by experience.  (Experience is the best teacher.)

10. When an ant stings one's buttocks, he learns to be careful:  One learns from the suffering of his experience.  (Suffering makes people to be more careful.)

11. The arrow the child used to kill the vulture--it was an adult who carved it:  A child's strength is small.  Doing something with the thoughts or advice of elders.  (The advice of elders is useful.  Support of seniors is behind a child's success.)

12. The leopard says that no matter how old he becomes, it will not affect his catching of goats:  A person being able to continue doing a thing in spite of things being difficult or in spite of things changing.  Cf.  An old woman does not become too old for the dances she knows.  (An expert never forgets his skill.)

13. What one seeks but does not find, there is no shortage of in the soothsayer's bag:  One should look for a thing where it is to be found.  (People are good in what they specialize.)

14. When the mother goat chews her cud, her children watch her.  Learning a thing by watching or observing.  (Learning by imitation or experience.)

15. When a thorn pierces the tortoise it is the native son who sharpened it:  Something very strong defeating something very strong.  (It is only an expert who can defeat an expert.)

16. If an adult says something, he keeps his word insofar as he is able:  A thing goes with something.  (Everything has what goes with it.)

17. One mother gives birth but it is not one god who creates:  People's behavior and thoughts are different [from other people's].  (People have different luck or idiosyncrasies.)

18. The blacksmith who does not know how to fashion a gong examines the hawk's tail [it is shaped like a gong]:  Learning a thing through careful observation.  (Learning by careful observation.)
19. The child who sees too much of his mother's friend cuts her with a kitchen knife:  Constant fraternization causes scorn.  (Familiarity breeds contempt.)

20. The cricket that burrows is not a child.  Cf. The bat that flies to the top of the kola nut tree is not a child.  One who does what adults do is no longer a child.  (If a child does what elders do, he is no longer a child.)

21. One needs cleverness to kill a strong man:  Cf. One needs cleverness to carry someone with a swollen stomach.  (Wisdom excels physical might.)

22. The oil palm that is in the road knows the one for whom it should let its fruit fall:  Not all people receive favors at the same time.  (A person knows for whom he should do a favor.)

23.As long as one is alive, he has hope of doing something more:  A person should not kill himself because of those for whom things have gone well.  (While there is life, there is hope.)  (Dum spiro spero.) (If we live we shall accomplish our desire.)

24. The chicken says that he [first] gathers [wealth] for his god, [then] gathers for himself, but before he gathers for himself it has become dark:  To have bad luck.  (Being unfortunate or unlucky.)

25. One does not use an ear probe to probe the eye:  If one probes the eye with it,the eye is blinded.

26. One can run around the stalk of the pepper plant, but one cannot climb it:  Everything goes according to its own order.  (Everything goes after its kind; natural order of things.)

27. When things are difficult for the tortoise, he says that his mother gave birth to many of them:  Giving a meaningless excuse for blaming someone.  (Lame excuse; giving worthless excuse for doing a thing.)