Kenyan Proverbs

By | May 9, 2015

Sayings of Kenyan Origin

It is the grass that suffers when elephants fight.

He who refuses to obey cannot command.

A friend in power is a friend lost.

Seeing rain clouds in the sky is not the same as getting wet.

Never talk about a rope in the house of a man who has just been hanged.

Competition exhausted the lungs.

A woman who wants a child cannot sleep with her clothes on.

It is better for the eye to die than the heart.

A rope parts where is thinnest.

Rushing is not important, making sure is.

There is no cure that does not have its price.

Do not say the first thing that comes to your mind.

All monkeys cannot hang on the same branch.

Do not slaughter a calf before its mother’s eyes.

The early riser avoids the dew.

You shouldn’t hate someone unless you have slept in their house.

If you want to kill a monkey, avoid looking him in the eyes.

An empty pot makes the loudest noise.

Having a good discussion is like having riches.

Nobody walks with another man’s gait.

A debt between children born by the same mother is paid in a clever way.

A donkey always says thank you with a kick.

You will notice no hills on the road to your loved one.

The Republic of Kenya

Map of Kenya with Kenyan flagKenya, is a country in Africa and a founding member of the East African Community (EAC). Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya is located on the equator with the Indian Ocean lying to the south-east and is bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 km2 (224,445 sq mi), and had a population of approximately 45 million people in July 2014.

Kenya is a multilingual country. The Bantu Swahili language and English, the latter of which was inherited from colonial rule are widely spoken as lingua franca. They serve as the two official working languages. (An excerpt from Wikipedia)

More Kenyan Proverbs & Sayings

The cries of a goat do not prevent it from reaching the market.

Only scratch where you can reach.

The sun does not refuse to shine on a village just because it is small

It is better to be poor when one is young, rather than becoming poor at old age.

It is the duty of children to wait on elders, and not the elders on children.

Water doesn’t stay in the sky forever.

No one can pass twice between the thighs of an elephant.

Anyone who urinates in a stream should be warned because any of his relatives may drink from the water.

Cut your nose to save your face.

Affairs of the home should not be discussed in the public square.

A sinking ship doesn’t need a captain.

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.

Two fingers cannot enter the same nostril.

Soon found, soon lost.

He who does not know one thing knows another.

The chief’s dog is chief of the dogs.

It is only a fool that sweats in water.

No matter how much the world changes, cats will never lay eggs.

Never let a hyena know how well you can bite.

Good fortune doesn’t roar like a lion.

He who keeps the company of a bad person, themselves becomes bad.

Empty stomachs create friendships.

A black ant will not bite another.

At the harvest you know how good the millet is.

Bad dancing does not break an engagement.

No one can use another person’s teeth to smile.

Once you have been tossed by a buffalo, a black ox looks like a buffalo.

No attention is paid to him who is always complaining.

A woman’s stomach does not grow if she is not pregnant.

A bird does not change its feathers because the weather is bad.

The grave of the gravedigger is never deep.

A man’s teeth cannot grow taller than his penis.

The sweetness of sugar is not in its color

Talking to one another is loving one another.

Greatness and beauty do not belong to the gods alone.

A rat-trap catches both the guilty and the innocent.

A word in the heart does not win.

Every door has its own key.

Even an expert swimmer drowns.

When you take a knife away from a child, give him a piece of wood instead.

Hearts do not meet one another like roads.

A child can play with its mother’s breasts in public, but it cannot dare play with its father’s testicles.

Don’t sweep another’s house whilst your own is dirty.

Virtue is better than wealth.

The water of the river flows on without waiting for the thirsty man.

If a dead tree falls, it carries with it a live one.

There is no phrase that doesn’t have a double meaning.

However much it rains on you, no wild banana tree will grow on your head.

No matter how tall the neck is, the head will always be on top of it.

Burning charcoal is turned into ashes.

After a foolish deed comes remorse.

The horns of a cow cannot be hidden.

There is no difference between growing old and living your life.

No matter how tall your grandfather was, you have to do your own growing.

If you receive a gift don’t measure it.

Follow bees and get honey.

The elephant and the tiger do not go hunting on the same pasture.

Just because he harmed your goat, do not go out and kill his bull.

A flea can trouble a lion more than the lion can harm a flea.

You may laugh at a friend’s roof; don’t laugh at his sleeping accommodation.

A white dog does not bite another white dog.

No one feels the pains that arise from unintended injury.

Even the small leopard is called leopard.

Help yourself and God will help you.

Two footsteps do not make a path.

A cat wearing gloves catches no mouse.

How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves.

Seeing is different from being told.

A true person is the one who gives birth to a foolish child.

What’s too hard for a man must be worth looking into.

When the figs are ripe all the birds want to eat.

A slave has no choice.

Before swallowing a mango seed, first calculate the diameter of your anus.

Even a friend cannot rescue one from old age.

An orphaned calf licks its own back.

Sleep and indolence are not cousins of a good harvest.

If it doesn’t resemble dad, it resembles mum.

He who wants to sleep in the middle must be first to arrive.

Intelligence is like hair, everyone has its own.

The only time you will see a quiet snake is when it has swallowed another snake.

The gods only hear one wish at a time, and nothing more.

Only believe a woman one day later.

Bartered grains do not fill up the granary.

Who does not know one thing knows another.

You cannot shave a man in his absence.

Blessings are better than possessions.

Two watermelons cannot be held under one arm.

Nobody gathers firewood to roast a thin goat.

An old banana leaf was once young and green.

Do not follow a person who is running a way.

No matter how far a man urinates, the last drop will always fall between his knees.

He who is unable to dance says the yard is stony.

A man who sleeps with your mother can slap you in her absence.

The owl is the wisest of all birds because the more it sees, the less it talks.

Hurrying has no blessing.

The deeds of a Man are greater than the details of his birth.

If gold rusts, what will iron do?

Before the gods destroy you, they first make you mad.

Two men quarrelling do not share the same seat on a canoe.

Every bird flies with its own wings.

The house of a madman is never burnt.

If a greedy eater is near a patient, such a patient can never survive.

Old age devours your youth.

When an elephant falls, meat is sure to be surplus for those who follow the hunter.

A fowl does not forget where it lays its eggs.

There is no elephant that complains about the weight of its trunk. No elephant is burdened by the weight of its tusks.

A dead rat feels no cold.

Do not accuse someone of witchcraft before they have cast a spell.

Each has his own way of moving.

Good things sell, bad things advertise.

Dip after dip depletes a jar of honey.

Absence makes the heart forget.

We have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children.

One finger alone cannot even kill a louse.

If a soup is sweet, it is money that cooks it.

A child does not die because the mother’s breasts are dry.

When a ripe fruit sees an honest man, it drops.

He who does not look ahead always remains behind.

If you do not know death, look at the grave.

When the right hand washes the left hand and the left hand washes the right hand, both hands become clean.

Thunder is not yet rain.

Feet cannot stop one from going into danger.

He who wants what is under a bed must bend over to get it.

Beauty is not sold or eaten

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

O God, of all creation (Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu) is the national anthem of Kenya. It was originally composed in Swahili, the national language.

Kenyan National Anthem ( English Lyrics):

O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendour
Firm may we stand to defend

Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

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