Proverbs are sayings that are popular and commonly heard and understood by a certain group of people. They are often metaphorical and carry a deeper meaning than its face value portrays. Most countries of the world have certain proverbs and wise sayings emanating from among them and African countries are not left behind as it is one of the things that make the different cultures in the continent outstanding.
A popular saying among the Igbo people of Nigeria has it that proverb is the oil with which they eat words. This goes a long way to show how much value is placed on the use of proverbs in communication. Long before now till date, African proverbs have been used to pass across information during very weighty conversations. Such sayings, it is believed, are usually used by the wise, the elderly and grey-haired people who take pride in the knowledge of these proverbs and most of the time, use them to give serious advice to children or the youths.
In most traditions in Africa, it is not ideal for an elder to speak to a younger one in a proverb and still be the one to explain the meaning to him.
These Kenyan proverbs are sayings that are commonly spoken in Kenya. Some of these sayings have similar variations in other cultures. Some are metaphorical while others are literal. A lot of them have a dose of humour which does not take away from the meaning of the proverbs.
This notwithstanding, Answers Africa brings you some of the greatest and most famous Kenyan proverbs and their meaning
Check out 40 Kenyan Proverbs below:
1. All cassavas have the same skin but not all taste the same.
2. At the harvest, you know how good the millet is.
3. Because a man has injured your goat, do not go out and kill his bull.
4. Do not slaughter a calf before its mother’s eyes.
5. Don’t count what they get — they count what they don’t get.
6. A hyena cannot smell its own stench.
7. A lone runner says he has legs (runs fast).
8. A messenger cannot be beaten.
9. A person changing his clothing always hides while changing.
10. Blind belief is dangerous.
11. Crawling on hands and knees has never prevented anyone from walking upright.
12. Do not say the first thing that comes to your mind.
13. A rat-trap catches both the guilty and the innocent.
14. A rope parts where it is thinnest.
15. A sinking ship doesn’t need a captain.
16. A slave has no choice.
17. A true person is the one who gives birth to a foolish child.
18. A woman’s stomach does not grow if she is not pregnant.
19. A word in the heart does not win.
20. All monkeys cannot hang on the same branch.
More Kenyan Proverbs…
21. An empty pot makes the loudest noise
22. An old pot never lacks food remnants.
23. An orphaned calf licks its own back.
24. Having a good discussion is like having riches.
25. He who does not know one thing knows another.
26. He who is unable to dance blames it on the stony yard.
27. How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves.
28. How gently glides the married life away, When she who rules still seems but to obey.
29. Hurrying has no blessing.
30. If a dead tree falls, it carries with it a live one.
31. He who refuses to obey cannot command.
32. Hearts do not meet one another like roads.
33. Intelligence is like hair, everyone has his own.
34. It is better for the eye to die than the heart.
35. It is better to be poor when one is young, rather than becoming poor at old age.
36. It is the grass that suffers when elephants fight.
37. The cries of a goat do not prevent it from reaching the market
38. He who pursues an innocent chicken often stumbles
39. No matter how tall the neck is, the head will always be on top of it
40. Try this bracelet: if it fits you, you wear it; but if it hurts you, throw it away no matter how much it sparkles.