Malagasy Proverbs

Sayings of Malagasy origin

Do not treat your loved one like a swinging door: you are fond of it but you push it back and forth.

Life is a shadow and a mist; it passes quickly by, and is no more.

Sadness is a valuable treasure — only discovered in people you love.

The dying person cannot wait for the shroud to be woven.

Those who know how to swim are the ones who sink.

Govern a country as you would roast a crocodile on a spit.

From all the fish in the pot you can only make one soup.

Debts make the thief.

To love the law is to lose money.

When you treat someone like a wild cat, he will steal your chickens.

A man who lets his problems get the better of him is like the man who divorces his wife the first time she makes him angry.

The child of a rat is a rat.

Whichever hand is cut, the whole body feels the pain.

Greet everyone cordially when you don’t know who your in-laws are going to be.

Don’t be so in love that you can’t tell when rain is coming.

Disgraced like a man whose own pet bites him.

When the ducks are quacking the frogs take it as a warning.

Advice is a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day.

The earth is God’s bride — she feeds the living and cherishes the dead.

A chicken that hatches a crocodile’s eggs is looking for trouble.

Better to lose a little money than a little friendship.

The end of an ox is beef, and the end of a lie is grief.

When the king reigns it is thanks to the people; when a river sings it’s thanks to the stones.

Living is not a reward and dying is no crime.

You can catch a cricket in your hand but its song is all over the field.

Idleness moves so slowly that it will be overtaken by misery.

When the crocodiles leave, the Caymans come.

If the stone is not milky, its owner will generally not obtain the best price from it.

You may well have caught a bird, but have you a fire to roast it on?

When you are looking for a country with no tombstones you will find yourself in the land of cannibals.

May your friendship not be like a stone: if it breaks you cannot put the pieces together. May it be like iron: when it breaks, you can weld the pieces back together.

If the hill is on fire the grasshoppers are roasted.

Better to be guilty in the eyes of men than in the eyes of God.

It is the softness of the lime that is fatal to the bird.

The earth is a giant cooking pot and men are the meat therein.

Those who rush things too much, without reflection, can be surpassed by those who take their time.

Crows are black everywhere.

Friendship reminds us of fathers, love of mothers.

Even the dead in their family vaults enjoy being in large company.

The barking dog gives you no power — it gives you fear.

Distracted by what is far away, he does not see his nose.

One can’t give a grasshopper to a child if one has not caught it yet.

Iron does not clang by itself.

However little food we have, we’ll share it even if it’s only one locust.

Only thin dogs become wild.

The dog’s bark is not might, but fright.

An egg does not fight a rock.

The Republic of Madagascar

Madagascar map with malagasy flagMadagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats. (An excerpt from Wikipedia)

Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both.

Antananarivo, formerly French Tananarive is the capital and largest city in Madagascar.

More Malagasy Proverbs & Sayings

You can’t catch a louse with one finger.

Flint and gunpowder: every time they meet there is an explosion.

Love is like young rice: plant it elsewhere, still it grows.

A canoe does not know who is king. When it turns over, everyone gets wet.

You can’t blame the axe for the noise made by the chicken you are about to slaughter.

You think you are strong like the corn plant, yet the bean vine is already choking you.

Power corrupts.

By getting angry, you show you are wrong.

All who live under the sky are woven together like one big mat.

Don’t be so much in love that you can’t tell when it’s raining.

Words are like eggs: when they are hatched they have wings.

Beware of French people who pretend to quarrel with each other: they will join together to fight you.

Nothing is as full of victory as patience.

Sick people are like kings.

Behave like the chameleon: look forward and observe behind.

They who drink the water from the Manangareza River always come back to Madagascar.

Wealth is like hair in the nose: it hurts to be separated whether from a little or from a lot.

As long as the mouse keeps still you can be sure that the cat stays on guard.

Words are like the spider’s web: a shelter for the clever ones and a trap for the not-so-clever.

Poverty won’t allow him to lift up his head; dignity won’t allow him to bow it down.

If you try to cleanse others — just like soap, you will waste away in the process!

To deny God’s existence is like jumping with your eyes closed.

Marriage is not a tight knot, but a slip knot.

Do not measure up the wood before the tree is cut down.

Crosses are ladders that lead to heaven.

A starving crocodile is never pleasant.

A fortuneteller says, “If it’s not a boy, it will be a girl”.

Money is like a guest: it comes today, leaves tomorrow.

He is truly hungry who accepts defeat in a fight over meat.

Cross in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.

Words go further than bullets.

It is not the fire in the fireplace which warms the house, but the couple who get along well.

The king inherits a country — the people only hard work.

Indecision is like the stepchild: if he doesn’t wash his hands, he is called dirty; if he does, he is wasting the water.

Divorce a young woman and you make another man happy.

A patient that can swallow food makes the nurse doubtful.

Ants can attack with a grain of rice.

Truth is like sugar cane; even if you chew it for a long time, it is still sweet.

If love is torn apart you cannot stitch the pieces together again.

Don’t help a bull out of a ditch, for when he’s out he’ll butt you.

The sin for which you repent is the father of virtue; but a virtue that you talk about, is the mother of sin.

It is better to refuse than to accept and not to go.

Be like the mouth and the hand: when the hand is hurt the mouth blows on it, when the mouth is hurt the hand rubs it.

Flatters, like rats, tickle and then bite.

Don’t blame the axe for the noise made by the chicken you are about to slaughter.

Don’t kick a sleeping dog.

Don’t take a second mouthful before you have swallowed the first.

The lazy man who goes to borrow a spade says, “I hope I will not find one.”

Do not scare the birds you are going to shoot.

One does not like hot, the other does not like cold; make it tepid to make an agreement.

The food which is prepared has no master.

If you sell a drum in your own village, you get the money and keep the sound.

Nothing is so difficult that diligence cannot master it.

Sorrow is like rice in an attic: you use a little every day and at the end it is all gone.

The night brings wisdom.

Do not kick away the canoe which helped you to cross the river.

Do not be like a miser who saves for those who will bury him.

Even the bottom of a basket finds something to hold.

Do not waste your time looking for soft ground to drive your spade in.

If we don’t fight we remain equals, if we do fight then one of us wins.

Don’t praise your wife before a year.

Roosters’ tail feathers: pretty but always behind.

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river.

“Ry Tanindrazanay malala ô!” is the national anthem of Madagascar.

Madagascar National Anthem ( English Lyrics):

Bless, oh Creator,

This island of our ancestors

May it have joy and happiness.

And may we be truly happy.

Oh beloved land of our ancestors!

We wish to serve you

With our body, heart and soul.

which are precious and dignified.

Oh beloved land of our ancestors!

We pray that you be blessed,

By the Creator of this world

who is the foundation of your existence.

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