Yoruba Proverbs

Ancient Yoruba sayings

You must be willing to die in order to live.

When the rain falls in the valley, the hill gets angry.

When wood breaks it can be repaired, but ivory breaks forever.

Stop the old and try something new.

One avoids danger at the early stage.

The hand of the child cannot reach the shelf, nor the hand of the adult get through the neck of the gourd.

Silence is an attribute of the dead; he who is alive speaks.

No one rides a horse without moving his head, voluntarily or involuntarily.

Truth came to market but could not be sold; however, we buy lies with ready cash.

Those who die through ignorance are many; those who die because they are intelligent are few.

When a king’s palace burns down, the re-built palace is more beautiful .

We must blame the thief first before we say that where the owner put her property improper.

Little by little is how the pig’s nose enters the yard.

Medicine left in the bottle can’t help.

What you give you get, ten times over.

One is in a dilemma to choose between two conditions by weighing the merits and demerits.

You need a long spoon to dine with the devil.

Patching makes a garment last long..

Work is the medicine for poverty.

When you stand with the blessings of your mother and God, it matters not who stands against you.

The king’s palace that got burnt added beauty to it.

He who eats well speaks well or it is a question of insanity.

Even after healing, a man once mad would still shout “HOI” once in a while.

You can’t stop a pig from wallowing in the mud.

The young rooster crows as he hears the old one.

If you don’t sell your head, no one will buy it.

One takes care of one’s own: when a bachelor roasts yam, he share’s it with his sheep.

The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine.

If you damage the character of another, you damage your own..

There was a threat yesterday and tragedy struck today, who doesn’t know that it’s the threatener of yesterday that is responsible for the tragedy.

It is a thief that can trace the footsteps of another thief on a rock.

It is head fish uses to swim through water.

The pot gets all the sweet, the lid nothing but steam.

‘i nearly killed the bird.’ no one can eat ‘nearly’ in a stew.

Fear a silent man. He has lips like a drum.

If we stand tall it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.

If something that was going to chop off your head only knocked off your cap, you should be grateful.

The soup does not move round in an elder’s belly.

The white chicken does not realize its age.

The young cannot teach tradition to the old.

It takes a whole village to raise a child.

The person that eat late, will not eat spoiled food.

Words are like spears: Once they leave your lips they can never come back.

The bell rings loudest in your own home.

To catch a monkey, you must do like a monkey.

No one can uproot the tree which God has planted.

If a big masquerade claims it doesn’t see the smaller masquerade, the small masquerade will also claim it doesn’t see the big masquerade.

One who waits for chance may wait a year.

Nobody knows the mysteries which lie at the bottom of the ocean..

The butterfly that brushes against thorns will tear its wings.

Its a new season, a new era.

Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.

Covetousness is the father of unfulfilled desires.

Only what you have combated for will last.

Stretch your hands as far as they reach, grab all you can grab.

When hunger gets inside you, nothing else can.

When the door is closed, you must learn to slide across the crack of the sill.

Prolonged endurance is what yields elderly maturity.

He who throws a stone in the market will hit his relative.

Many words do not fill a basket .

Charity begins at Home.

Diseased genitals must keep to themselves.

The person who has been a slave from birth does not value rebellion.

When your neighbor’s horse falls into a pit, you should not rejoice at it, for your own child may fall into it too.

Gossipers always suspect that others are talking about them.

For no man could be blessed without the acceptance of his own head.

Rather than an abatement of her viciousness, a witch gives birth to only female children and witchcraft multiplies .

Hardship here and there would definitely yield a broken personality.

Calculation is the master of bleeping.

You cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.

When the white man is about to leave a garden for good, he wrecks it.

Discretion is a better part of velour.

Proverb from Yoruba

Yoruba is a language spoken in West Africa, mainly in Nigeria. The number of speakers of Yoruba is approaching 30 million. It is a pluricentric language spoken principally in Benin and Nigeria, with communities in other parts of Africa, the Americas, and Europe.(An excerpt from Wikipedia)

Yoruba people are an ethnic group of Southwestern and North Central Nigeria as well as Southern and Central Benin, together known as Yorubaland. The Yoruba constitute over 40 million people in total. The majority of this population is from Nigeria and make up 21% of its population, according to the CIA World Factbook, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language, which is tonal, and is the Niger-Congo language with the largest number of native speakers.

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