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BellaOnline's African Culture Editor

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Bantu Proverbs

Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu

The Bantu include hundreds of tribes across Africa such as the Zulu tribe of South Africa, the Kikuyu of Kenya, the Shona of Zimbabwe, the Basaa of Cameroon, and many many others. Bantu tribe inhabitant mainly sub-saharan Africa and south through South Africa. The Bantu are a very large group of diverse peoples. Here are a few of their proverbs.


A child one does not instruct on return, one instructs him when going.

Whenever I work hard for other people, I always sleep on an empty stomach.

A woman's clothes are the price her husband pays for peace.

The most stupid chicken always challenges the wildcat.

What one won't eat by itself, one will eat when mixed with other food.

Stroke your dog and he will steal eggs.

The cabin of a loved one is never too far away.

A good deed will make a good neighbor.

Visitors' footfalls are like medicine; they heal the sick.

To marry is to put a snake in one's handbag.

Only heaven can see the back of a sparrow.

The road doesn't tell the traveler what lies ahead.

A dead man does not know where his grave is.

The hunter who always comes home with meat is a thief.

The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.

The egg teaches the chicken how to breed.

There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense.

A new handle hurts the hand.

There is no return, worse luck; for could I return, I would foresee what has come into the country.

Away from home the girl picks forbidden fruit.

No man can paddle two canoes at the same time.

Patience is the mother of a beautiful child.

What makes the drum pleasing is the song.

The power of the crocodile is in the water.

The earth is a beehive; we all enter by the same door but live in different cells.

A thief does not like to be robbed.

Earth is like a prison: we all go in through the same door, but we stay in different cells.

Work is good provided you do not forget to live.

A kingdom’s strength is in mutual honor.

Every beast roars in its own den.

Who suffers from diarrhea, is not afraid of the dark.

The horizon will not disappear as you run towards it.

It is better to have no law than not enforcing it.

The bitter heart eats its owner.

Even if we eat, earth will inevitably enter our mouths.

Respect a little child, and let it respect you.

Dance, father, people's eyes don't eat, they just stare.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dawn Denton for details.

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