Kikuyu proverbs

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When I stand before thee at the day's end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.
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Proverbs of the Kikuyu people

  • Gukira kuri ngatho
    • Translation: To keep one's tongue is worthy of praise
    • English equivalent: Silence is golden.
  • Mwenda uthaka ndacayaga.
    • Translation: One who would beauty does not flinch.

1,000 KIKUYU PROVERBS

If you are having problems viewing the letters with tildes, you may want to view the Plain text Kikuyu proverbs. See the Gikuyu language article for information on pronunciation.


Thimo ngiri ĩmwe cia Gĩkũyũ

A - B - C - E - G - H - Ĩ - I- K - M - N - O - R - T- Ũ - W - Y - Reference

A

1. Agĩkũyũ moĩ kũhitha ndĩa, matiũĩ kũhitha ũhoro

    • Literal translation: The Kikuyu know how to conceal their quiver, but do not know how to conceal their secrets.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu, though very clever in concealing their arms, cannot keep secrets from the members of their tribe.

2. Ageni erĩ matirĩ ũtugĩre

    • Literal translation: Two guests (at the same time) have no welcome.

3. Ageni erĩ na karirũĩ kao.

    • Literal translation: Two guests love a different song.
    • Contextual note: When you receive two visitors at the same time, you cannot treat them in the same manner because they have different tastes.
    • English equivalent: Every man has his hobby horse.

4. Aikaragia mbia ta njũũ ngigĩ

    • Literal translation: He is a man that looks after money as ‘njũũ’ looks after locusts.
    • Contextual note: ‘Njũũ’ is a bird which accompanies migrating locusts to feed on them.
    • English equivalent: Much wants more.

5. Aka erĩ nĩ nyũngũ igĩrĩ cia ũrogi

    • Literal translation: Two wives are two pots full of poison.
    • Contextual note: The more women you have in your house, the more troubles you must expect.
    • English equivalent: Women’s jars breed men’s wars.

6. Aka matirĩ cia ndiiro no cia nyinĩko

    • Literal translation: Women have no upright words, but only crooked ones.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu use the proverb to say that women keep no secrets and seldom tell the truth.
    • English equivalent: Women conceal all that they know not.

7. Aka na ng’ombe itirĩ ndũgũ

    • Literal translation: Wives and oxen have no friends.
    • Contextual note: There are things which are not to be given to friends.
    • English equivalent: A woman is to be from her house three times: when she is christened, married, and buried.

8. Andũ maiganaine magĩthiĩ na magĩceera

    • Literal translation: Men are equal when they are going and walking.
    • Contextual note: One can tell a difference between two men's character when they are commanding or working, but not when walking down the road.

9.Andũ matarĩ ndundu mahũragwo na njũgũma ĩmwe

    • Literal translation: People who have not secret agreement are beaten by a single club.
    • Contextual note: A group of men not bound by a secret will be easily beaten by a single man.
    • English equivalent: Lack of union is weakness.

10. Andũ matiũĩ ngamini

    • Literal translation: Men do not know liberality.
    • Contextual note: One does not give without hope of return.

11. Andũ matiũĩ ngũ, moĩ ithendũ

    • Literal translation: Me do not know hard firewood, but only lops.
    • Contextual note: People put aside hard tasks and devote themselves only to easy ones.

12. Andũ me muoyo matiagaga wĩra

    • Literal translation: Live men do not lack work.
    • English equivalent: Life would be too smooth if it had no rubs in it.

13. Angĩmĩtuĩria na ũmĩrĩte ndangĩmĩona rikiĩ

    • Literal translation: He who seeks his goat with the man who ate it, is certain not to find it.
    • Contextual note: Do not look for stolen goods in the robber's house.

14. Arũme marĩ rwamba

    • Literal translation: Men have got quills.
    • Contextual note: Do not annoy others because they will respond by hurting.
    • English equivalent: What goes around comes around; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    • A statement of the w:Golden Rule.

B

15. Bata ndũbatabataga

    • Literal translation: Necessities never end.
    • English equivalent: He that will have no trouble in this world must not be born in it.

C

16. Cia athuri inyuagĩra thutha

    • Literal translation: The elders drink afterwards (i.e after the others).
    • Contextual note: Elderly people are not in such a hurry as young ones.

17. Ciakorire wacũ mũgũnda

    • Literal translation: The food found Wacũ in the field.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the legend of Wacũ, the most despised amongst the wives of a rich man who never gave her any presents. One day, when a banquet was being held at home, she went to work in the field, since she knew there would be nothing for her at home. In the middle of the banquet a raven swooped down in the courtyard where the meat was being roasted, snatched a big piece and brought it to Wacũ. The Kikuyu use the proverb to say that God takes care of His poor.

18. Cia kĩonje itigayagwo gĩtanakua

    • Literal translation: The property of a helpless man must not be divided before his death.
    • Contextual note: The reason is that he is unable to get anything more than he already possesses.

19. Cia mũciĩ irĩ gacũgũma gacio gatathukagio nĩ mũthuri ũngĩ tiga mweneguo

    • Literal translation: Home affairs have their staff, which cannot be brandished by anyone but the head of the house.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means either that private matters must not be spoken of to strangers or that in each house there must be only one in authority.

20. Cia mũciĩ itiumaga ndĩra

    • Literal translation: Home affairs must not go into the open.
    • English equivalent: Do not wash dirty linen in public.

21. Cia mũciĩ ti como

    • Literal translation: Home affairs cannot be told in public.
    • English equivalent: Do not wash dirty linen in public.

22. Ciana cia ndigwa itirĩ maithori

    • Literal translation: The widow’s sons have not tears.
    • Contextual note: It means that they have been accustomed to suffer very early.

23. Ciathanaga ikĩgũa, itiathanaga ikĩũmbũka

    • Literal translation: Birds agree when flying down, but do not agree when flying up.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that it is easy for a swarm of birds to alight together, while it is difficult to get up together since after eating their fill they will fly up separately. Morally the proverb means that men easily agree when deciding on an enterprise, but will probably quarrel as soon as they have obtained what they want.

24. Cia thũgũrĩ itiyũraga ikũmbĩ

    • Literal translation: Bought things do not fill the granary.
    • Contextual note: Do not hope to become rich without cultivating your fields.

25. Ciatura ngũyũ irĩaga ng’umo

    • Literal translation: When there is shortage of figs, birds eat the fruits of the ‘mũgumo’.
    • Contextual note: The tree called ‘mũgumo’ by the natives bears little fruits that are not eaten by birds when there is plenty of other food.
    • English equivalent: If thou hast not a capon, feed on an onion; Beggars can't be choosers.

26. Cia ũthoni ciambaga nguhĩ

    • Literal translation: The buying of a wife begins from a little thing.
    • English equivalent: Great events have small beginnings.

27. Ciĩgwatagĩrĩra mareru

    • Literal translation: Goats fall that take hold of lichens.
    • Contextual note: Lichens are not strong enough to prevent a goat from falling. The proverb means that unsatisfactory excuses are insufficient defence.

28. Cionje ikũmi irũgĩtwo nĩ ũmwe ũrĩ na hinya

    • Literal translation: Ten helpless people were surpassed by a single strong person.
    • Contextual note: One strong person is better than ten helpless ones.
    • English equivalent: One grain of pepper is worth a cartload of hail.

29. Cira mũnene nĩ ũkĩa

    • Literal translation: A long lawsuit breeds poverty.
    • English equivalent: Fools and obstinate men make lawyers rich.

30. Cira mũnene nĩ wa ũthoni ũgĩkua

    • Literal translation: The breaking of a betrothal is no small matter.
    • Contextual note: Marrying a girls means giving a large number of goats or cattle to her family. Starting from the day of the betrothal the price is paid gradually. Evidently it is no simple matter if the would-be husband breaks his contract and demands the return of the marriage price.

31. Cira wa kĩrimũ ũtindaga kĩharo

    • Literal translation: The lawsuit of a fool keeps the court (sitting) all day.
    • English equivalent: The lawsuit of a fool never comes to an end.

32. Cira wa mũciĩ ndumagĩrio kĩharo

    • Literal translation: Home affairs are not to be carried on in the public squuare.
    • English equivalent: Do not wash dirty linen in public.

33. Cira wothe wambagĩrĩrio na nda

    • Literal translation: Every case begins from the stomach.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu have an ox or a goat killed, roasted and distributed to judges at the beginning of every case. Familiarly they use the proverb to say that one of the most important jobs of life is to provide something to eat.
    • English equivalent: An empty belly hears nobody.

34. Ciunagwo rũkomo, kimenyi akamenya ikiunwo.

    • Literal translation: We speak by proverbs: he who is intelligent will understand.
    • English equivalent: Intelligenti pauca.

E

35. Ehera thakĩrio

    • Literal translation: Clear out of the ‘thakĩrio’.
    • Contextual note: ‘Thakĩrio’ is the place the Kikuyu hut where the wife stays when distributing the food to the family.
    • English equivalent: Mind your own business.

G

36. Gakĩĩbatha nĩ koĩ nĩ karĩthoitha

    • Literal translation: He who spends his time adorning himself knows he is going to a dance.
    • English equivalent: There is a reason for everything.

37. Gakĩĩhotora nĩko koĩ ũrĩa karĩina

    • Literal translation: He who adorns himself knows to what sort of dance he is going.
    • English equivalent: There is a reason for everything.

38. Gakunywo kagĩra thooko

    • Literal translation: The fool takes many people with him.
    • Contextual note: It is said of people who, when invited to a feast, instead of going alone, take others with them.
    • English equivalent: A fool cannot bear his own company.

39. Garũrĩra mbeũ ti ya kĩnya kĩmwe

    • Literal translation: Change seeds taking them from different calabashes.
    • English equivalent: It is good to introduce new blood.

40. Gatami karĩ mondo yene gatingĩkũratĩra nguo

    • Literal translation: The piece of cloth that is in another’s bag does not patch your garment.

41. Gathutha konagia mũndũ njĩra

    • Literal translation: A little, contemptible path is sometimes the one that leads you to the highway.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.

42. Gatitũ ka mũimwo nĩ irĩ noko karĩ mĩtĩ

    • Literal translation: The forest of an unpleasant (ill-liked) person is the one that has trees.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that evil-doers often do prosper.

43. Gatitũ ka ngoro gatiunagwo

    • Literal translation: The grove of the hear is not laid open.

44. Gatinyinyiraga gatarĩ gakunye

    • Literal translation: Nobody cries that has not been pinched.
    • English equivalent: No smoke without fire.

45. Gatuma kainagia mũrigwa

    • Literal translation: Darkness caused to dance even him who cannot.
    • English equivalent: All cats are the same in colour at night.

46. Gatundu koragithirie Watatua

    • Literal translation: A secret agreement enabled people to kill Watatua.
    • Contextual note: Watatua was a powerful Chief, invincible in open combat, who was killed at night by a few men.
    • English equivalent: Secret union means strength.

47. Gĩathĩ gĩtharagio nĩ gaka kamwe

    • Literal translation: A market can be spoiled by one woman.
    • English equivalent: One cloud is enough to eclipse the sun.

48. Gĩathĩ kĩrĩ mũrugĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Every feast has its guest of honor.

49. Gĩathĩ kĩrĩagwo nĩ kĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: One appointment is eaten by another.
    • English equivalent: Today kills yesterday.

50. Gĩathĩ kĩũmũ no kĩa mũrokero

    • Literal translation: That of circumcision is a hard appointment.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu circumcision is a civil and religious rite by which the adolescent is admitted into the public life of the tribe and becomes a man in the full possession of his rights. The ceremony is physically painful, but the candidate is expected to face the operation without wincing.
    • English equivalent: There are not gains without pains.

51. Gĩeterero ti kiĩnaino

    • Literal translation: To wait is not to tremble.
    • English equivalent: Men’s actions are not to be judged at first sight.

52. Gĩcegũ kĩa andũ aingĩ ti kĩega

    • Literal translation: The ‘gĩcegũ’ of many men is not good.
    • Contextual note: ‘Gĩcegũ’ is that part of the Kikuyu hut where they enclose the ram in order to fatten it.
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth.

53. Gĩcigo kĩa mũgũnda gĩtinyihaga

    • Literal translation: A piece of land is not a little thing.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that however small the field you possess, it has its importance if you work it.
    • English equivalent: A little house well filled, a little land well tilled, a little wife well willed are great riches.

54. Gĩikaro kĩmwe kĩrĩ ngee kana ndaa

    • Literal translation: By staying always in the same place one gets lice.
    • English equivalent: The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only one page.

55. Gĩkũrũ kĩega no kĩratina

    • Literal translation: The only thing good, though old, is the ‘mũratina’.
    • Contextual note: ‘Mũratina’ is the fruit of the hot-dog tree (Kigelia Etiopica) used by the natives to cause fermentation of sugar-cane beer. It is believed that the older the fruit, the greater it is fermenting power. The proverb means that there are only few things that improve with age.

56. Gĩkuũ gĩtiraragĩrio

    • Literal translation: You cannot (do not) make an appointment with death.

57. Gĩthaka gĩtigunaga muni, kĩgunaga mũki

    • Literal translation: The land enriches not people who clear it, but people who come (when it is already cleared).
    • English equivalent: One beats the bush, and another catches the bird.

58. Gĩthaka kĩa mũici nĩ gũkaana

    • Literal translation: Lying is the thief’s stronghold.

59. Gĩthũmba gĩtirĩ mũrimũ wa ngoro

    • Literal translation: Beggars have no worries.
    • English equivalent: Poverty needs no granary.

60. Gĩthũri kĩrĩ mwatũ wa ngotoko

    • Literal translation: The chest contains a beehive full of pride.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that proud people have always in store lots of reasons justifying their wickedness.

61. Gĩtiganĩrĩro kĩrũgĩtwo nĩ kĩrũgamanio

    • Literal translation: Talking something over is better than leaving it pending.
    • English equivalent: Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

62. Gĩtiiro kĩa mũka wene gĩtĩkagio athiĩ

    • Literal translation: The song of a stranger-woman is answered after she has gone.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is metaphorically used to mean that foreigners, especially women, are not to be trusted too much.
    • English equivalent: Eat a peck of salt with a man before you trust him.

63. Gĩtindo kĩa mũciĩ nĩ kĩũru

    • Literal translation: It is bad to stay at home.
    • English equivalent: He that stays in the valley shall never get over the hill.

64. Gĩtoĩ kĩmenyaga kĩerwo

    • Literal translation: He who does not know, knows after being told.
    • English equivalent: A man forewarned is forearmed.

65. Gĩtoĩ kĩraragia kĩũĩ njĩra

    • Literal translation: He who does not know the road delays also one that knows it.
    • English equivalent: Who goes with a fool becomes a fool.

66. Gĩtonga kĩgiragio iganjo gĩkarĩma

    • Literal translation: The rich man cannot be prevented from cultivating the ‘iganjo’ he wants.
    • Contextual note: ‘Iganjo’ is the place upon which a hut had been built. Since the flocks live in the owner’s hut, the floor of the hut becomes fertilized. The proverb refers to the fact that if a rich man has left a piece of his land to a poor man on which to build his hut, very often he wants it back as soon as the soil under the hut has been enriched by the dropping of the animals.
    • English equivalent: Mights is right.

67. Gĩtonga kĩrĩaga mũnyuko

    • Literal translation: Rich people sometimes eat bad food.
    • English equivalent: All is not gold that glitters.

68. Gũceera nĩ kũhĩga

    • Literal translation: Traveling is learning.
    • English equivalent: The world is a great book, of which they that never stir read only one page.

69. Gũcekeha ti gũicũhio

    • Literal translation: To be slim does not mean having been pared.
    • English equivalent: Do not scorn little things.

70. Gũciara kunaga irigũ ngingo

    • Literal translation: The woman who gives birth to a child is like the banana tree that breaks under the weight of its fruit.
    • English equivalent: Maternity means pain to the mother.

71. Gũciara ũru ti kwenda kwa mwene

    • Literal translation: It is not the mother’s will to have a bad offspring.

72. Gũcukagwo ũtagũteo

    • Literal translation: People slander somebody even if they do not despise him.

73. Gũkĩara na gũtonga ititiganaga

    • Literal translation: Riches and poverty do not leave each other.

74. Gũkira kũrĩ ngatho

    • Literal translation: To keep one’s tongue is worthy of praise.
    • English equivalent: Silence is golden.

75. Gũkira nĩ gũthũrana

    • Literal translation: Not to talk is to hate.
    • English equivalent: One keeps silence with people one does not like.

76. Gũkirĩrĩria kwagĩra kĩeha

    • Literal translation: Indulgence breeds regret.

77. Gũkũra nĩ kũũru: ngathiĩ ũrĩrĩ ngĩcayaga

    • Literal translation: It is bad to get old, for one goes to bed grumbling.
    • English equivalent: Old sacks want much patching.

78. Gũkuhĩrĩria mbaara tikuo kũrũa

    • Literal translation: The fact that you have gone near the battle-field does not mean that you fought.

79. Gũkungagwo ũtukũ ti mũthenya

    • Literal translation: Thieves conceal themselves in the night not in the day.
    • English equivalent: The night is a cloak for sinners.

80. Guota mwaki nĩ gũcera

    • Literal translation: To get the warmth of fire one must stir the embers.
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

81. Guoya ũtũũragia ũkĩa mũciĩ

    • Literal translation: The fear (of toil) keeps your house poor.
    • English equivalent: Idleness is the key of beggary.

82. Gũteithagio wĩteithĩtie

    • Literal translation: If you help yourself you will be helped.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

83. Gũtema na kanua ti gĩtema na rũhiũ

    • Literal translation: Cutting by the tongue is different from cutting by the knife.
    • Contextual note: Slander is not mortal stabbing.
    • English equivalent: Hard words break no bones.

84. Gũthama nĩkuo kũhika kwa arũme

    • Literal translation: A man changing his abode is like a woman marrying.
    • Contextual note: As a woman, on marrying, adopts the customs of the family she enters, so a man going to live in a strange country, must accept its customs.
    • English equivalent: When in Rome do as Rome does.

85. Gũthekererwo nĩ andũ ti kũrĩrĩrwo nĩ hiti

    • Literal translation: To be laughed at by men is not to be wept by hyenas.
    • English equivalent: Better to be laughed at than to die.

86. Gũthekererwo ti kũrĩrĩrwo

    • Literal translation: To be laughed at is not to be pitied.
    • Contextual note: One starting any enterprise ought not to fear what others say of him.
    • English equivalent: Do well and dread no shame.

87. Gũthekio ti kwendwo

    • Literal translation: If anybody makes you laugh, it is not always because he loves you.
    • English equivalent: Eat a peck of salt with a man before you trust him.

88. Gũthĩgagio mbura gũtongĩtwo matũgũta

    • Literal translation: Some hope for rain even though they have not prepared their fields.
    • Contextual note: He who hopes for favours should have prepared himself to profit by them.

89. Gũthiĩ gũtigiragia mũndũ acoke

    • Literal translation: To go does not prevent a man from returning.
    • English equivalent: Never give up.

90. Gũthiĩ kuonagia mũndũ njĩra

    • Literal translation: Travelling teaches men their way.

91. Gũthiĩ nĩ kuona

    • Literal translation: Travelling is seeing.
    • English equivalent: Travel broadens the mind.

92. Gũthimba ti kuura

    • Literal translation: Having rain clouds is not the same as having rain.
    • English equivalent: Don’t cry herrings till they are in the net.

93. Gũthinga kũrũgĩte gũtonga

    • Literal translation: Virtue is better than riches.
    • English equivalent: Virtue is the only true nobility.

94. Gũthinga nĩkuo kĩhooto

    • Literal translation: Virtue is power.
    • English equivalent: Virtue makes men on the earth famous, in their graves illustrious, in the heaven immortal.

95. Gũthura ng’ombe nĩ gũthura kamũkwa kayo

    • Literal translation: To despise the ox means to despise also a strip of hide from it.
    • Contextual note: One cannot scorn great things without scorning little ones related to them.

96. Gũthukagĩrio wanatega itega

    • Literal translation: One favours him from whom one has in the past received a gift.
    • English equivalent: One good turn deserves another.

97. Gũthuragwo mũndũ ũrĩendwo

    • Literal translation: A man is (sometimes) scorned who will be loved (later on).
    • English equivalent: Judge not of men or things at first sight.

98. Gũtirĩ gĩtatũirie kĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: There is no thing which does not cause another to exist.

99. Gũtirĩ gĩthĩnji ũtathĩnja

    • Literal translation: There is no butcher that does not slaughter.
    • English equivalent: Every man to his trade.

100. Gũtirĩ gũkũra na kũrara kerĩ

    • Literal translation: One ages every night one lives.
    • English equivalent: Time fleeth away without delay.

101. Gũtirĩ ita ithiagwwo na gĩtete kĩa njohi no gĩa ũcũrũ

    • Literal translation: No war has been fought by men carrying a calabash of ‘njohi’ but of ‘ũcũrũ’.
    • Contextual note: ‘Njohi’ is an inebriating drink brewed out of sugar-cane. ‘Ũcũrũ’ is a kind of thin porridge made by boiling millet-flour in water. This gruel is supposed to be highly nourishing and therefore suitable for long journeys or hard fighting; while the sugar-cane beer by inebriating the warriors makes them weak and easy prey to the enemy.
    • English equivalent: Out of temperance comes strength.

102. Gũtirĩ mbura ĩtarĩ na gĩtonga kĩayo

    • Literal translation: There is no rain which does not enrich someone.
    • English equivalent: It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.

103. Gũtirĩ mũciĩ ũrĩ kahĩĩ ũtakarugwo mũtwe

    • Literal translation: In every family where there is a son, the head of an ox, goat or ram is cooked to be eaten by him with his friends.
    • Contextual note: They use the proverb to mean that ordinarily a son gives his parent more trouble than a daughter, or that in every family parents do not lack troubles.
    • English equivalent: There is a black sheep in every family.

104. Gũtirĩ mũici na mũcũthĩrĩria

    • Literal translation: There is no difference between the thief and the looker-on.

105. Gũtirĩ mũki ũrehage ũrugarĩ

    • Literal translation: Nobody entering a hut pays for the heart he will enjoy in it.
    • Contextual note: Only the owner of the hut had the drudgery of carrying home the firewood; the visitor does not know the cost of the fire he is enjoying. Metaphorically the proverb is used to say that he who enters a house cannot realise the troubles of the occupants.
    • English equivalent: None knows the weight of another’s burden.

106. Gũtirĩ mũndũ ũĩ harĩa egũthiĩ no harĩa ekuuma

    • Literal translation: Nobody knows where he goes, but only whence he comes.
    • English equivalent: No one can see into the future.

107. Gũtirĩ mũndũ wendaga gũtũngana na nyoni njũru

    • Literal translation: Nobody wants to meet an ill-omened bird.
    • Contextual note: To the Kikuyu many birds foreshadow calamity. The cry of the owl forebodes mishap. If the owl cries, perched on the top of a hut, the oldest man in that village will die very soon. If someone, about to make a journey, hears the cry of any bird of ill- omen, he must not start on any account.
    • English equivalent: Nobody seeks his own ruin.

108. Gũtirĩ mũndũ ũtangĩtuĩka wa ndigwa

    • Literal translation: There is no man that cannot become an orphan.
    • English equivalent: No flying from fate.

109. Gũtirĩ mũndũ wonaga wega wake, no kuonwo wonagwo

    • Literal translation: Nobody can see his own goodness: it can be seen only by others.

110. Gũtirĩ mũrĩo ũtainagia rũthĩa

    • Literal translation: There is no pleasure (however little it may be) that does not cause one’s cheeks to tremble.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu consider the cheek trembling an expression of joy.
    • English equivalent: A little pleasure is nertheless a pleasure.

111. Gũtirĩ mũthenya ũkĩaga ta ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: No day dawns like another.
    • English equivalent: Every day brings a new light.

112. Gũtirĩ mũtumia wenjagĩrwo mbuĩ kwa nyina

    • Literal translation: No married woman will have her white hair shaved at her mother's.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu girls go around with bald heads which they get periodically shaved by their relations. So the woman, who by being married has left her house and relations, will never be shaved at her mother's.
    • English equivalent: Once sold, ever sold.

113. Gũtirĩ mwana ũngĩtema agĩtemera ithe

    • Literal translation: The son does not cut his finger in cutting meat for his father.
    • English equivalent: Sons are stingier than their parents.

114. Gũtirĩ ngware ĩtarĩ mũhurĩrie wayo

    • Literal translation: There is no partridge which does not know its own way of scratching.
    • English equivalent: As many methods as men.

115. Gũtirĩ ngware nyinyi mahurĩrio-inĩ

    • Literal translation: No partridge is small when it claws the soil.
    • English equivalent: Every one can do great good or evil according to his possibilities.

116. Gũtirĩ njamba ĩrumaga imera igĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: No prepotent man will insult other people for two consecutive seasons.
    • Contextual note: Prepotence comes quickly to an end.

117. Gũtirĩ nyama na ngirinyũ

    • Literal translation: Meat has no choice morsel.
    • Contextual note: When distributing the meat or anything else one must not favour any one person.

118. Gũtirĩ nyoni njega mwere-inĩ

    • Literal translation: There is no nice bird in the millet.
    • Contextual note: Millet is one of the staple crops of the Kikuyu. They protect it from birds by building pulpit-like huts in which boys or women stand to frighten them whilst the harvest is ripening.
    • English equivalent: Even sugar itself may spoil a good dish.

119. Gũtirĩ ũciaragwo arĩ mũgĩ

    • Literal translation: Nobody is born wise.

120. Gũtirĩ ũcokaga harĩa arũmĩirwo kaara

    • Literal translation: Nobody returns where he got his finger bitten.
    • English equivalent: Once bitten twice shy.

121. Gũtirĩ ũikagia itimũ atarĩ na harĩa akũratha

    • Literal translation: Nobody throws a lance if he has no target.
    • English equivalent: There is a reason for everything.

122. Gũtirĩ ũkinyaga mũkinyĩre wa ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: Nobody walks with another man’s gait.
    • English equivalent: Every man in his way.

123. Gũtirĩ ũndũ ũtarĩ kĩhumo

    • Literal translation: There is nothing without a cause.
    • English equivalent: All things have a beginning.

124. Gũtirĩ ũrĩragio nĩ ũkĩa wene

    • Literal translation: Nobody grumbles at being rich, all at being poor.

125. Gũtirĩ ũrĩragio nĩ ũtonga no ũkĩa

    • Literal translation: Nobody cares about other people’s poverty.

126. Gũtirĩ ũrirũ ũtonwo

    • Literal translation: There is no mischance you are guaranteed against.
    • English equivalent: There is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.

127. Gũtirĩ ũru ũtũũraga, no wega ũtũũraga

    • Literal translation: No evil, but only the good will last.
    • English equivalent: Good deeds remain, all things else perish.

128. Gũtirĩ ũta ũtarĩ nyama

    • Literal translation: There is no bow without its meat.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

129. Gũtirĩ rĩtwa rĩtakũria mwana

    • Literal translation: There is no name which cannot distinguish a child.
    • English equivalent: Every bird is known by its feathers.

130. Gũtirĩ thingira ũciraga ta ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: There is no location which discusses its affairs in the same way as the other does.
    • English equivalent: Every man in his way.

131. Gũtirĩ ũthũire tiga akĩaga

    • Literal translation: A man is poor not because he scorns possessions, but because he possesses nothing.
    • English equivalent: Sour grapes, as the fox said when he could not reach them.

132. Gũtirĩ wa nda na wa mũgongo

    • Literal translation: There is not the son of the front and the son of the back.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu mothers carry a baby on the back if they have only one. If they have two, one is carried in front and the other one on the back. Of course the one carried near the breasts can suck oftener than the other. That is why they say this is the favourite one.
    • English equivalent: Parents should have no Benjamin.

133. Gũtirĩ wĩriraga agĩkuua, eriraga akĩiga thĩ

    • Literal translation: Nobody grumbles while carrying a load, but when he has laid it down.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that nobody hates to be rich but all hate to become poor; or that nobody refuses to command, though all are sorry when they have to give up the command.

134. Gũtirĩ wĩriraga agĩthiĩ, no agĩcoka

    • Literal translation: Everybody regrets not what he leaves but what he does not find (when he comes back).

135. Gũtirĩ wĩtaga ithe wa ũngĩ baba

    • Literal translation: Nobody calls another’s father ‘dad’.

136. Gũtirika gũteaga njamba noru

    • Literal translation: To forget a strong man who could help you is the same as to scorn him.

137. Gũtirika nĩ gũte

    • Literal translation: To forget is the same as to throw away.

138. Gũtungata gũtingĩgiria mũndũ agatungatwo

    • Literal translation: The man that serves is not prevented from being served in turn.
    • English equivalent: Every dog has its day, and every man his hour.

139. Gwakĩa kwarama, gwatuka gwakundeera

    • Literal translation: The day is for working, the night is for resting.
    • English equivalent: There is a time to wink as well as to see.

140. Gwethera gĩtahi mũka

    • Literal translation: To seek a woman to the belly.
    • Contextual note: The expression is used when they look for something to eat. To go foraging.

141. Gwĩ thigari mũgambo

    • Literal translation: Some soldiers are only soldiers when talking.
    • English equivalent: A good friend is a treasure.

142. Gwĩka wega kũmathaga ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: A good action reaps another.
    • English equivalent: One good turn deserves another.

H

143. Handũ ha njũgũma na ha mũgwĩ hatiganaine

    • Literal translation: The place to use the club and the above arrow are not the same.
    • English equivalent: Everything has its place.

144. Harĩ mũthuri hatiitangagwo maaĩ

    • Literal translation: In the presence of elderly people one must not pour water.
    • Contextual note: Nobody is allowed to be foul-mouthed especially when elderly people are present.
    • English equivalent: Old age is honourable.

145. Haro nĩ ya mũka ũrĩ ĩhĩĩ

    • Literal translation: Quarrelling is peculiar to the woman who has got male children.
    • Contextual note: They use the proverb to mean that since sons are more mischievous than daughters, and mothers are more proud of their sons than of their daughters, women are inclined to quarrel to defend or to exalt their sons.
    • English equivalent: No mother is so wicked but desires to have good children.

146. Haro nĩ ya mũka ũrĩ thirĩ

    • Literal translation: Quarrelling is peculiar to the woman who has debts.
    • Contextual note: A woman in debt is quarrelsome.

147. Hĩta itanakĩra

    • Literal translation: Resist the beginnings.
    • English equivalent: Small faults indulged are little thieves that let in great.

148. Hinga ndĩkinyaga iraka

    • Literal translation: A wily person does not walk on dry leaves (for they would betray his presence).

149. Hinya ndũigana ũrũme

    • Literal translation: Strength does not correspond with courage.

150. Hinya ndũrĩ indo

    • Literal translation: Strength has nothing.
    • Contextual note: Strong people are not necessarily rich people.

151. Hiti ciathiĩ mbwe ciegangara

    • Literal translation: When hyenas go away jackals rejoice.
    • English equivalent: Little dogs begin to eat when big ones have eaten enough.

152. Hiti ĩtaga ĩrĩa ĩngĩ ya mũtĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: The hyena calls another hyena worse than itself.
    • English equivalent: The pot calling the kettle black.

153. Hiti yugaga arũme nĩ ogĩ, monaga gĩcinga ngwatĩro

    • Literal translation: Hyena says that men are wise because they know how to hold a firebrand.
    • Contextual note: A story told by the Kikuyu says that one night a hyena entered a hut to eat the goats. The owner wakened by the noise, took hold of a firebrand to scare it out. The beast tried top do the same, but not knowing how to handle firebrands it scorched its paws.
    • English equivalent: There is a right and a wrong way of doing everything.

154. Hiti ndĩrĩaga mwana, na mũĩ ũrĩa ĩrĩ ngoroku

    • Literal translation: The hyena does not eat its baby, and you know how insatiable it is.
    • English equivalent: No mother is so wicked but loves her children.

155. Hũngũ ireraga harĩa mbũri ĩrathĩnjĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Vultures arrive at the place where the goat is slaughtered.
    • English equivalent: Where the carcase is, the ravens will gather.

156. Hũngũ ĩgĩthiĩ igũrũ ndĩatigire thĩ kũrĩ kwega

    • Literal translation: The vulture perches on the trees because it does not feel sure on the ground.

157. Hũni nene ĩgĩraga hũhita

    • Literal translation: To eat much leaves you with a swollen belly.
    • English equivalent: Enough is as good as a feast.

158. Hururu ĩthekaga rwaro

    • Literal translation: The abyss laughs at the plain.
    • English equivalent: Every man thinks his own geese swans.

Ĩ

159. Ĩciaraga ũru mwene oine

    • Literal translation: The cow has a bad delivery though her owner is present.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes may come in spite of watchfulness.

160. Ĩganagwo yaarĩ iria yakua

    • Literal translation: The good milking cow is praised after her death.
    • English equivalent: A friend is never known till needed.

161. Ĩgĩtunywo mwana ĩikagĩrio mũngũ

    • Literal translation: The cow is given a present when her calf is carried away.
    • English equivalent: When one thing distresses you, another consoles you.

162. Ĩgũkua ĩhuragia kĩara

    • Literal translation: The ox that claws the ‘kĩara’ will die.
    • Contextual note: ‘Kĩara’ is the dunghill you will find in every Kikuyu village. In order to understand the proverb it much be borne in mind that the Kikuyu regard it as a sacred place which the witch-doctors dedicates with the sacrifice of a goat to secure that the evil spirits may not return into the hut from which he expelled them. They are supposed to stay in the ‘kĩara’ just as the rubbish does.
    • English equivalent: Touch pitch and you’ll be defiled.

163. Ĩkũrũma ndĩoragia mũgũgũta

    • Literal translation: The ox that feeds itself does not spoil its skin.

164. Ĩkũrũra yarahũraga ĩmamiĩ

    • Literal translation: The animal rambling in the stable makes the sleeping ones rise too.
    • English equivalent: Ill examples are like contagious diseases.

165. Ĩkũrũrio ti noru

    • Literal translation: The ram that is shown around is not fat.
    • Contextual note: A really fat ram will easily find a buyer and does not need to be carried around and shown in the markets.
    • English equivalent: Good ware makes a quick market.

166. Ĩreragĩra rũkũ-inĩ na ĩkaya kũigana

    • Literal translation: The cimex lives in the firewood and still it reaches its full growth.
    • English equivalent: Where there is a will there is a way.

167. Ĩrĩ gĩciarĩra riũa-inĩ yongithagĩria o ho

    • Literal translation: The cow that drops her calf in the sun feeds it there too.
    • English equivalent: One likes the place where one does well.

168. Ĩrĩ gũkũra ĩrĩagwo iguku nĩ aka

    • Literal translation: The hump of the ox that has grown old must be eaten by women.
    • Contextual note: The hump is a choice morsel for young men when the ox is young. But if it is old women must eat it.
    • English equivalent: Rubbish is women’s portion.

169. Ĩrĩ gũkũra ndĩrĩ mwĩroreri

    • Literal translation: The ox which has grown old has no admirer.
    • English equivalent: Nobody looks after elderly people.

170. Ĩrĩ gũtũ ĩhũgagia mwene

    • Literal translation: The flea troubles him who has got it in his ear.

171. Ĩrĩ kũhĩnja ndĩrĩ munĩri ngũ

    • Literal translation: Nobody gathers firewood to roast a thin goat.
    • English equivalent: Poor people have no friends.

172. Ĩrĩ kũhũma ndĩrĩ mũtĩ ĩtangĩgwatĩrĩra

    • Literal translation: There is no tree which a panting animal would not cling to.
    • English equivalent: A drowning man will catch at a straw.

173. Ĩrĩ kũra ndĩrĩ mũhĩti

    • Literal translation: The ox that ran away cannot be caught.
    • English equivalent: Resist the beginnings.

174. Ĩrĩ kũruga nĩ ĩgũita, ĩgũitĩrĩra nĩ nguũ

    • Literal translation: The cooking pot on the fire leaks, when pouring water it is broken.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes come by forties.

175. Ĩrĩ mũrungu ĩgiritagia ĩrĩ kahĩa

    • Literal translation: The ox which has no horns, relies for help on the one that has them.
    • Contextual note: He who feels weak relies on the friend he knows is strong.

176. Ĩrĩ mũthece kinya tene ndĩoyagĩra ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: The bird who has always possessed a beak, does not pick up for another.
    • English equivalent: Content is more than a kingdom.

177. Ĩrĩ nyite nĩ mũtego ndĩthũire gwĩteithũra

    • Literal translation: The animal caught in the trap does not refuse to set itself free.
    • English equivalent: No man likes his fetters, though of gold.

178. Ĩrĩ tha nĩ ĩrĩ iria

    • Literal translation: It is he who got milk that is merciful.
    • Contextual note: ‘Milk’ here has the sense of money; possessions. The proverb means that the rich should help needy people, since the poor cannot do it.

179. Ĩrĩ thoni ĩnyuaga munju

    • Literal translation: The timid ox drinks muddy water.
    • Contextual note: He goes to the river only when others have come away leaving the water dirty.
    • English equivalent: Faint heart never won fair lady.

180. Ĩrũgamaga nĩ ĩkurumaga

    • Literal translation: He who goes around with his body upright, later on will go crawling.
    • English equivalent: Young today, old tomorrow.

181. Ĩtakuura ĩgwatagia rũhuho

    • Literal translation: To blame the wind for the rain that does not fall.
    • Contextual note: It refers to boasting people who try to make silly excuses for themselves.

182. Ĩtarĩ thahu ĩgunagwo nĩ makoro ma njĩra

    • Literal translation: The man who has no impurity will be helped even by the peels he sees on the road.
    • Contextual note: There are many ways by which a Kikuyu can contract impurity and he fears the baneful effects which will follow it. That is why a man able to avoid all legal unclanness is said to be so lucky.
    • English equivalent: God helps honest people.

183. Ĩthĩnjagĩrwo mũrwaru ĩgakora warwarire tene

    • Literal translation: The goat slaughtered for a man who is sick now, finds another who ws sick long before.
    • English equivalent: God cures and the doctor takes the fee.

184. Ĩthimbaga na ndũire

    • Literal translation: The sky is heavy with rain, but does not come.
    • Contextual note: It refers to people who are always promising great thing which they never do.
    • English equivalent: Great boast, small roast.

185. Ĩtunyagwo mbũĩ nĩ gũciara

    • Literal translation: A plant loses its blossom as soon as it bears fruit.
    • Contextual note: Woman’s beauty is spoilt by maternity.

I

186. Igai rĩa mũtũndũ rĩtigiragia kĩrĩti kiunwo

    • Literal translation: A branch of ‘mũtũndũ’ does not hinder the division of a field.
    • Contextual note: ‘Mũtũndũ’ is a small tree growing in the bush. It is not used by the natives, except as firewood.

187. Igego rĩthekagia itimũ

    • Literal translation: The tooth laughs with the lance.
    • Contextual note: It means that oftern a person plays with his enemy.
    • English equivalent: The cat plays with the mouse.

188. Igwa njĩthĩ itirĩ njohi

    • Literal translation: Young sugar-cane gives no beer.
    • English equivalent: There is no putting old heads on young shoulders.

189. Ihenya inene riunaga gĩkwa ihatha

    • Literal translation: Great haste breaks the yam tuber (instead of taking it out whole).
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

190. Ihĩĩ na igwa ikũragĩra ũthũ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: Boys and sugar-cane grow up as enemies (because boys are all the time eating sugar-cane).

191. Ihiga rĩega rĩtiringanaga na thĩo njega

    • Literal translation: A good millstone does not meet a good miller.

192. Ikinya na thĩ itiaganaga

    • Literal translation: The foot and the earth cannot help meeting.
    • English: Some things will always happen the same way.

193. Ikinya rĩa mũkũrũ rĩkinyaga mũruna

    • Literal translation: Old people’s walking teaches young ones to walk.
    • English equivalent: That comes of a cat will catch mice.

194. Ikũũra inya na inyanya

    • Literal translation: One can lose four and eight.
    • English equivalent: All covet all lose.

195. Indo ciene irĩ mũtino

    • Literal translation: Stolen things bring in misfortune.
    • English equivalent: Ill gotten goods seldom prosper.

196. Indo nĩ kũrĩmithanio

    • Literal translation: Riches are found in cultivating together.
    • English equivalent: Many hands make light work.

197. Irĩaga na mbugi kũrĩ na ũgwati

    • Literal translation: The goats pasture with bells hanging from their necks in order not to stray.

198. Irĩ gũthua ndongoria itikinyagĩra nyeki

    • Literal translation: If the first goat goes lame, those that follow will not reach the pasture.
    • English equivalent: Ill examples are like contagious diseases.

199. Irĩ gwĩthamba iticokaga gwota mwaki

    • Literal translation: Candidates for circumcision after washing do not return to warm themselves at their father’s (but go straightaway to the place of the ceremony to show their courage).
    • English equivalent: In things that must be it is good to be resolute.

200. Iri kanua itirĩ nda

    • Literal translation: The food that is in the mouth is not yet in the belly.
    • English equivalent: Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

201. Irĩ kũhĩa itioragĩrwo

    • Literal translation: When the food is cooked there is no need to wait before eating it.

202. Irĩ ũkabi itirĩ Gĩkũyũ

    • Literal translation: What is in Masai is not in Kikuyu.
    • English equivalent: There is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.

203. Irima rĩrekagia rĩemba

    • Literal translation: The pit allows the grass to fall in.
    • Contextual note: The proverb alludes to the pits the Kikuyu used to dig for trapping wild animals. These pits were covered with sticks over which, as well as over borders, they put a layer of grass. Since this grass often fell in the pit through the spaces between the sticks, so they say that often one falls into the pit dug by himself.
    • English equivalent: Hoist with his own petard.

204. Irimũ ikenagĩra ũndũ mũru

    • Literal translation: Fools rejoice for a bad thing.
    • English equivalent: A fool will laugh when he is drowning.

205. Irio hĩu itiumaga mbũri

    • Literal translation: Cooked food is not sold for goats (but is given to friends visitors and pilgrims).
    • English equivalent: God helps the poor for the rich can help themselves.

206. Ita cia maitho ititĩraga

    • Literal translation: The war of the eyes never comes to an end.
    • English equivalent: The eye is never satisfied with seeing.

207. Ita itarĩ ndundu ititahaga

    • Literal translation: The war that has no unity will make no prey.

208. Ithaga rĩene rĩnogagia ngingo

    • Literal translation: Other’s ornaments tire one’s neck.
    • English equivalent: Do not wear borrowed plumes.

209. Ithare rĩagũka gũcokaga mũgumo

    • Literal translation: When ‘ithare’ is uprooted ‘mũgumo’ grows in its place.
    • Contextual note: ‘Ithare’ is a kind of a cane growing on the riverbanks. The Kikuyu say it is of no use. ‘Mũgumo’ is a kind of a fig tree (Ficus Hochstetteri), which does not grow except leaning on another tree or twisting around it like a creeper. This is why they think that the ‘mũgumo’ is worse than the ‘ithare’.

210. Ithe wa thaka ndarĩ matũ

    • Literal translation: A fair daughter’s father has no ears.
    • Contextual note: The father who wants to marry his daughter to the best among the young men who crowd his hut to woo her, turns a deaf ear on their foul words.
    • English equivalent: Few men will be better than their interest bids them.

211. Itherũ rĩtiringaga ini

    • Literal translation: A joke must not hit the belly.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that there must be a limit also in joking.
    • English equivalent: The jest is tolerable, but to do harm by jest is insufferable.

212. Itherũ rĩtirutagĩrwo mũguĩ

    • Literal translation: For a jest one should not take the arrow out of the quiver.

213. Itherũ riumaga mbaara

    • Literal translation: From a jest comes a strife.
    • English equivalent: Jests, like sweetmeats, have often sour sauce.

214. Itherũ rĩũragaga ndebe

    • Literal translation: A joke can break the earring.
    • English equivalent: An ill-timed jest has ruined many.

215. Itherũ ti mũguĩ

    • Literal translation: A trick is not an arrow.
    • English equivalent: Good jests bite like lambs not like dogs.

216. Itonga igĩrĩ itirĩ nyoni

    • Literal translation: Two rich persons do not wish each other a bird of ill omen.
    • English equivalent: Dog will not eat dog.

217. Itonga irugaga na ngĩo

    • Literal translation: Rich people cook their food in a potsherd.
    • English equivalent: The tailor’s wife is worst clad.

218. Itũũra rĩrĩ kanoro rĩtituhagia kahiũ

    • Literal translation: The village, which has got a whetstone, does not blunt the knife.
    • Contextual note: The sense of the proverb is that if in a village there is a good whetstone it does not mean that the villagers should purposely blunt their tools in order to whet them. The time will come when the whetstone will have to be used.
    • English equivalent: Every thing is good in its season.

219. Ithĩnjĩro rĩtiagaga thakame

    • Literal translation: A slaughterhouse is not without a little blood.
    • English equivalent: Touch pitch, and you’ll be defiled.

K

220. Kaana ka ngarĩ gakunyaga ta nyina

    • Literal translation: The son of the leopard scratches like its mother.
    • English equivalent: Like father like son.

221. Kaana karere nĩ ũcũwe gatingĩrũngĩka

    • Literal translation: The baby nursed by its grandmother can never be corrected.
    • English equivalent: Too much breaks the bag.

222. Kaara kamwe gatingĩyũragĩra ndaa

    • Literal translation: One finger does not kill a louse.
    • English equivalent: Union is strength.

223. Kagwacĩ ka mwana wene noko kahoragia mwaki

    • Literal translation: It is always the potato of another family’s boy that extinguishes the fire.
    • Contextual note: The proverb alludes to the custom of roasting potatoes in the embers of a dying fire.
    • English equivalent: Nobody calls himself rogue.

224. Kahiga gakũrũ gatiagararagwo nĩ maaĩ

    • Literal translation: The stream does not pass over an old stone (through respect to its age).
    • English equivalent: Old age is honourable.

225. Kahĩĩ ka mwathi kamenyaga kũgereka

    • Literal translation: The hunter’s son knows how to hunt.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.

226. Kahĩĩ kogĩ ta ithe kabaritaga ta mĩgwĩ

    • Literal translation: A son as cunning as his father knows the arrows like father.
    • English equivalent: Like carpenter like chips.

227. Kahiũ getainwo na rwenji

    • Literal translation: A knife and a shaving-knife are alike.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if you do not have something you need, you will have something you can instead.
    • English equivalent: Necessity is the mother of invention.

228. Kahiũ karathime karĩaga nyama cia kĩnandũ

    • Literal translation: The blessed knife (son) eats of the meat of the ‘kĩnandũ’.
    • Contextual note: ‘Kĩnandũ’ is a small calabash used to keep oil, fat and the best morsels of meat. They say that the father share the contents of the ‘kĩnandũ’ with the most beloved son.

229. Kahũniĩ gatiũĩ mwĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: He who is full does not understand what is told (about others’ troubles).
    • English equivalent: Another’s burden does not worry us.

230. Kahũniĩ gatũhaga ũrĩrĩ wa nyina

    • Literal translation: The fed baby plays on its mother’s bed.

231. Kaihũ korũri gatigaga kwao gũgĩthĩnjwo

    • Literal translation: The rambling pole-cat leaves its house when there is banquet.
    • Contextual note: The son that leaves his father’s house for liberty’s sake will not share his father’s inheritance.

232. Kamamĩrĩria gateire mũgũnda mũrĩme

    • Literal translation: A little idleness lost a tilled field.
    • English equivalent: A little leak can sink a great ship.

233. Kamau mwerũ nĩ airaga

    • Literal translation: Kamau who is white becomes black.
    • Contextual note: ‘Kamau’ is typical name. The proverb means there is nothing constant in this world.

234. Kamũhũthia kaharũrũkagia mwatũ

    • Literal translation: A little idleness causes the ruin of the beehive.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu hang beehives on the branches of the forest trees, and it is their custom to visit them often to make sure that they are all right. For it might happen that if out of idleness one did not see them regularly, one would ultimately find the branch broken, the beehive fallen and the contents spoilt.

235. Kamũingĩ koyaga ndĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: Many people together lift up the ‘ndĩrĩ’.
    • Contextual note: ‘Ndĩrĩ’ is a heavy wooden mortar in which the Kikuyu women, when brewing beer, crush the sugar-cane.
    • English equivalent: Many hands make light work.

236. Kanĩra njara ĩrĩa ũkomeire

    • Literal translation: Take an oath only for the hand youslept on.
    • English equivalent: Swear only to that which you know to be true.

237. Kanoro karĩ itũũra gatituhagia

    • Literal translation: The whetstone in a village does no blunt the knife.
    • English equivalent: Every potter praises his own pots.

238. Kanua karĩa karĩire mbeũ noko koragia ‘ngahanda kĩ?’

    • Literal translation: The mouth who ate the seeds asks, ‘Now what shall I plant?’
    • English equivalent: He sups ill who eats up all at dinner.

239. Kanua kene gatinyuaga muma

    • Literal translation: Another’s mouth cannot take the oath for you.
    • English equivalent: Every bird must hatch its own egg.

240. Kanua nĩ ikahũ

    • Literal translation: The mouth is a chink.
    • English equivalent: From the mouth come many futilities.

241. Kanua kendagia kĩongo

    • Literal translation: The mouth sells the head.
    • English equivalent: The tongue talks at the head’s cost.

242. Kanua werĩire

    • Literal translation: You spoke (against yourself) with your own mouth.
    • Contextual note: Its means that one can sometimes condemn oneself in defending oneself.

243. Kanya gatune mwamũkanĩro

    • Literal translation: A small red snuff-box is a welcome.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the Kikuyu custom of giving a pinch of snuff to their friends when they meet.

244. Kanyoni kabariti keminagĩra njoya

    • Literal translation: The little bird that flaps its wings too much will spoil them.
    • English equivalent: One must crawl before one can walk.

245. Kanywanjui kerathaga kero gako

    • Literal translation: ‘Kanywanjui’ scratches its thigh.
    • Contextual note: ‘Kanywanjui’is a species of a tiny blue bird with a long bill, which sucks nectar from flowers. The proverb means that such birds, although very small, can do everything for their own needs, and do not require others’ help to have their legs scratched.
    • English equivalent: Every man something can.

246. Karaguthwo nĩko koĩ kwĩgita

    • Literal translation: He who is stricken knows how to defend himself.
    • English equivalent: Scalded cats fear even cold water.

247. Karanga hako gatiũmagia

    • Literal translation: It is not the owner, trampling his own field, that spoils it (but the others).
    • Contextual note: The proverb has arisen from the fact that many people if they have a bad harvest, say that it is the fault of other people who walked across their plantations.
    • English equivalent: Nobody calls himself a rogue.

248. Karara gekinya

    • Literal translation: A person will change his mind on something if left to sleep over it.
    • English equivalent: Never leave till tomorrow what you can do today.

249. Karatha gatũkagia karatha

    • Literal translation: Prophet copies a prophet.
    • English equivalent: Like tree like fruit.

250. Karatũ gatagwo na kũgũrũ kwa mwene

    • Literal translation: The shoe is made for the foot that will wear it.
    • English equivalent: If the cap fits wear it.

251. Karegi nyina gatihonaga

    • Literal translation: The baby that refuses its mother's breast, will never be full.
    • English equivalent: Faint heart never won fair lady.

252. Kareraria kagarũragwo na mũtĩ

    • Literal translation: The sleeping is turned by a stick: i.e. turns around to bite if disturbed or touched by a stick.
    • English equivalent: Let the sleeping dogs lie.

253. Karĩki kamwe gatukĩrĩirie ndutura kĩrimũ

    • Literal translation: A stupid turtle-dove is sometimes surprised by night for wanting one more grain of castor-oil plant.
    • English equivalent: Time stays not the fool's leisure.

254. Karĩ mata gatiagaga wa kuga

    • Literal translation: The mouth that has saliva does not lack words.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that the man who has something to say will say it.

255. Karĩ nda gatiĩyumbũraga

    • Literal translation: The word that remains in the belly does not mean anything.
    • English equivalent: Tell the truth and shame the devil.

256. Kĩaga ngũi kĩabaca

    • Literal translation: The song that has no leader, goes wrong.
    • English equivalent: No longer pipe, no longer dance.

257. Kĩama gĩtirũgaga rũũĩ

    • Literal translation: The elders of the council do not jump over the brook.
    • Contextual note: Metaphorically the proverb means that the elders who are to judge a case must not hurry. But it often means that a person like a judge should not do anything undignified.

258. Kĩambi nda nĩkĩo gĩakũra

    • Literal translation: The food eaten first lasts longest in the stomach.
    • English equivalent: First impressions are most lasting.

259. Kĩara kĩihũragio nĩ gũita ihuti

    • Literal translation: The dunghill grows by straws thrown upon it.
    • English equivalent: Every little helps.

260. Kĩega ta kĩ gĩtithiraga

    • Literal translation: A really good thing is ever good.
    • English equivalent: A good tale is none the worse for being twice told.

261. Kĩere kĩa njĩra-inĩ gĩtigwatagwo nĩ muura

    • Literal translation: A grain of millet grown on the road will bear no ears.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means both that a promiscuous woman has little hope of bearing children, and that a thing in common use will not last long.
    • English equivalent: A pot that belongs to many is ill stirred and worse boiled.

262. Kĩero nĩ ũimbo

    • Literal translation: The thigh is a bubble.
    • Contextual note: Thigh means full blooded youth. The proverb is for the young who scorn old people or make wrong use of their strength to sin. It reminds them that youth passes quickly.
    • English equivalent: Young today, old tomorrow.

263. Kĩerũ nĩ kĩiraga

    • Literal translation: What is white becomes black.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the fact that the Africans are almost white when they are born, but become black by growing.
    • English equivalent: There is nothing constant but change.

264. Kĩgĩna gĩtininũkagio irio hande itarĩ ngũrũ

    • Literal translation: The seeds kept are not finished before the ripening of the crops planted in the field.
    • English equivalent: Every thing has its time, and that time must be watched.

265. Kĩhooto gĩtuthaga rũga rũtunge

    • Literal translation: The argument breaks the strained cord of the bow.

266. Kĩhooto kĩgetũraga ũta mũgete

    • English equivalent: The argument relaxes the bent bow.

267. Kĩhooto kĩringaga rũũĩ rũiyũru

    • Literal translation: The reason crosses even a flooding river.

268. Kĩhooto kĩongagĩrĩrwo njũgũma

    • Literal translation: The club is added to one's argument.

269.Kĩhooto nĩ indo

    • Literal translation: Having a good argument (in a discussion) is like having riches.
    • Contextual note: The five proverbs here above mean that he who can support his views or actions with a strong argument, will go through any difficulty and obtain what he wants.

270. Kĩnandũ kĩa mũciĩ gĩtihakagwo mũgeni

    • Literal translation: The fat of the 'kĩnandũ' is not used to anoint a stranger.
    • Contextual note: For the meaning of the word 'kĩnandũ' see No. 228.
    • English equivalent: Charity begins at home.

271. Kĩndũ kĩene gĩtirĩ ndokeirwo nũũ

    • Literal translation: Who prospered with robbed things.
    • English equivalent: Ill gotten goods seldom prosper.

272. Kĩndũ kĩũru no kĩronda, ĩndĩ kĩrĩ rũa rwa mũhuhi

    • Literal translation: A sore is a really bad thing; still it means luck to the doctor.
    • English equivalent: It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.

273. Kĩndũ kĩũru no mũndũ ethũkĩtie we mwene

    • Literal translation: A really bad thing is to hurt oneself willfully.
    • English equivalent: It is stupid to cut of your nose to spite your face.

274. Kĩndũ no mwene mũhoi ahoyage

    • Literal translation: The thing you want must be begged from the owner.
    • Contextual note: This means that it must not be acquired from other people nor taken without permission.
    • English equivalent: It is not a sin to sell dear, but it is to make measure.

275. Kĩndong'o kĩarĩire mai nĩ ũndũ wa kwaga mayũ ma gũkĩra

    • Literal translation: The beetle feeds on excrement for it can't fly high.
    • English equivalent: If thou hast not a capon, feed on an onion.

276. Kĩnya kĩrĩ itina nĩkĩo kĩigaga

    • Literal translation: Any calabash that has got a bottom can stand upright.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that God gives every man what is required by human nature: but it depends on man to exploit such gifts.
    • English equivalent: Every man is the architect of his own fortune.

277. Kĩongo kĩenjithagio nĩ mwene

    • Literal translation: The head is shaved at its owner's desire.
    • English equivalent: Let every peddlar carry his own burden.

278. Kĩonje gĩtihoyaga njohi mĩciĩ ĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: An invalid does not go to two houses to ask for beer (since he cannot move).
    • English equivalent: Old age is honourable.

279. Kĩrĩ kwĩhia ciĩhĩtie ciothe

    • Literal translation: If a child has sinned all have sinned.
    • English equivalent: One does the blame, another bears the shame.

280. Kĩrĩro kĩa mbũri nĩ ndara

    • Literal translation: It is the gridiron that cries (for the slaughtered goat).
    • Contextual note: Everyone rejoices when a goat is killed, for each will have his piece of meat; only the gridiron on which the meat is roasted, weeps, i.e. crackles.

281. Kĩrĩro kĩrĩ itũũra gĩtingĩreka mũndũ akome

    • Literal translation: One person weeping prevents all in a village from sleeping.
    • English equivalent: One barking dog sets all the street a-barking.

282. Kĩrĩti kĩrĩ ngoro gĩtiunanagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: The forest in the heart cannot be cut down by somebody else.
    • Contextual note: Troubles in somebody's heart cannot be removed by somebody else.

283. Kĩrimũ gĩtindagia andũ njĩra

    • Literal translation: The fool makes other people stop on the road.
    • English equivalent: The fool wastes the time of other people.

284. Kĩrimũ kĩhithaga rwembea-inĩ rwa nyũmba kĩũĩ gĩtikuonwo

    • Literal translation: The fool hides himself under the eaves of the hut and thinks nobody will see him.
    • Contextual note: It refers to foolish people who invent silly excuses to conceal their faults.

285. Kĩrimũ gĩa gwĩkĩgia kĩrũgĩte kĩa mũciarĩre

    • Literal translation: He who feigns to be stupid is more stupid than the stupid-born.
    • English equivalent: None is so deaf as those who won't hear.

286. Kĩrimũ kĩongaga nyina arĩ mũkuũ

    • Literal translation: A fool can even suck the mother after she is dead.

287. Kĩrimũ nĩ ta mwatũ

    • Literal translation: A fool is like a beehive.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he is a fool who does not look after his own interest, like the beehive which allows itsself to be emptied.

288. Kĩringĩri gĩa aka nĩ rwenji rũkĩrega

    • Literal translation: To force a woman to do something she doesn't like is like forcing a blunt shaving knife to shave.

289. Kĩronda kĩa mwene gĩtimũiragia ngoro

    • Literal translation: He who has a sore does not feel sick on account of it.
    • English equivalent: We are blind to our own faults.

290. Kĩruka gĩa kĩmbu gĩtithiragwo nĩ mũng'ũng'ũtũ

    • Literal translation: All the species of the chameleon family shall always have a protruding backbone.
    • English equivalent: That that comes out of a cat will catch mice.

291. Kĩũma gĩtihatagĩrĩrio rũga

    • Literal translation: Do not force a big thread into a bead with a small hole.
    • English equivalent: Grasp all, lose all.

292. Kĩũnũhu gĩtirĩagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: A wasted thing cannot be eaten.
    • English equivalent: Willful waste makes woeful want.

293. Kĩũra kĩaringio rũũĩ kiugaga nĩkĩo kĩeringia

    • Literal translation: The frog that was helped across the river, said she had crossed by itself.
    • English equivalent: Eaten bread is soon forgotten.

294. Kirĩrĩria, thuti ti ruo

    • Literal translation: Be patient, a desire is no pain.
    • Contextual note: This proverb is told to people who long after anything they cannot obtain.

295. Kirihia thuti

    • Literal translation: Desires tie.
    • English equivalent: If desire be endless, your cares will be so too.

296. Kiuga gĩtheri gĩtirutanagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: An empty bowl is not offered.
    • Contextual note: It means that it is better to keep silence than to try to justify oneself by empty excuses.
    • English equivalent: Be silent or speak something worth hearing.

297. Komũ ateire kaigũ wa nyina

    • Literal translation: The dry firewood does not despise the wet one coming from the same tree.
    • English equivalent: Dog will not bite dog.

298. Komũ athĩnirie kaigũ wa nyina

    • Literal translation: Mother's dry firewood laughed at the green one (and it did not think that both of them had but one common lot).
    • English equivalent: Today me, tomorrow thee.

299. Kũganwo nĩ kũra

    • Literal translation: Being praised leads to ruin.
    • English equivalent: Praise without profit puts little in the pot.

300. Kũgera mũgathĩ ti gũtinia

    • Literal translation: To tell the beads is not to cut the thread.
    • English equivalent: Do not judge men or things at first sight.

301. Kũgũrũ kũrĩ mũhu na kũrĩ ime itihanaine

    • Literal translation: A foot dirty of ashes is not a foot wet of dew (because the former holds firmly, while the latter skids).

302. Kũgũrũ nĩ irata thĩ

    • Literal translation: The foot goes all the world over.
    • English equivalent: It is perseverance that prevails.

303. Kũgunagwo mwĩthiomeri ti mũthiomerwo

    • Literal translation: It is he who speaks that profits, not he who is spoken for.

304. Kũgunĩrwo mwana no ta kũgunĩrwo nyina

    • Literal translation: To make the son happy is to make the mother happy.

305. Kũhĩka nĩ kuna

    • Literal translation: Hurrying, is breaking.
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

306. Kũhĩtia nĩ kwa njamba

    • Literal translation: Erring is proper in a courageous person.
    • English equivalent: To err is human.

307. Kũhonoka ti gũtũũra

    • Literal translation: To pass safely through danger (once) is no guarantee (for the next time).
    • English equivalent: One can escape the rocks and perish in the sand.

308. Kũhoya kwa arũme nĩ maitho

    • Literal translation: Males beg with the eyes.
    • Contextual note: It alludes to the Kikuyu custom according to which male guests, when invited to a beer party sit in the courtyard waiting for the host to pass round the drinks.

309. Kũhoya ti kũiya

    • Literal translation: To beg is not to steal.

310. Kũhũũta na kũhũũna ititiganaga

    • Literal translation: Hunger and surfeit do not leave each other.
    • English equivalent: Riches have wings.

311. Kũhũra maaĩ na ndĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: To pound the water in the mortar.
    • English equivalent: To waste time and labour.

312. Kũira ti kũrita

    • Literal translation: To be black is not to be stupid.
    • English equivalent: Little bodies may have great souls.

313. kũma ti kũma ta ihiga, na kuororoa ti kuororoa ta maaĩ

    • Literal translation: To be hard does not mean to be hard as stone, and to be soft does not mean to be soft as water.
    • English equivalent: There is a measure in all things.

314. Kũmtha gũtirĩ hinya ta kũramata

    • Literal translation: To harvest is not so difficult as to keep the harvest.
    • English equivalent: Keep some till more comes.

315. Kũmenya mũno nĩ kũmenyũka

    • Literal translation: Knowing too much is like being ignorant.
    • English equivalent: Too much breaks the bag.

316. Kũmenya werũ nĩ kũũtinda

    • Literal translation: He knows a place who lives in it.
    • English equivalent: Every man knows his own business best.

317. Kũngũ maitũ na hunyũ wake

    • Literal translation: Long live my mother and her ugliness.

318. Kũnyiha ti gũtinio

    • Literal translation: To become small is not the same as being cut.

319. Kũnyitwo ti kuohwo

    • Literal translation: To be caught is not to be imrisoned.
    • English equivalent: There is many a slip, 'twixt the cup and the lip.

320. Kũrĩ arũme na maiyũria ndua

    • Literal translation: Some are males (useful people) and some can only fill the gourds (useless people).
    • English equivalent: Some good, some bad, as sheep come to the fold.

321. Kũrĩ gũciara ũru ta kĩhia gĩgĩciara na mũtwe

    • Literal translation: There are women who give forth a bad issue, just like the sorghum that bears its fruit on the head (instead of growing it underground like most Kikuyu crops).

322. Kũrĩ gũkahũka gũticokaga ndebe

    • Literal translation: One cannot put the 'ndebe' into a broken ear-lobe.
    • English equivalent: 'Ndebe' is the wooden ring put into the pierced ear-lobe as an ornament. The painful operation of piercing the lobe is done with a wooden bodkin by the parents of the boy or girl in the years preceding the initiation. Pieces of wood are then introduced into the hole and these will successively be replaced by larger ones until a large wooden ring ('ndebe') can be put in as an ornament. The proverb means that these are things once broken cannot be soldered.

323. Kũrĩ gũkua mũrĩo ta kĩgwa

    • Literal translation: There are people who, like sugar cane, are killed for being sweet.
    • English equivalent: He who makes himself a sheep shall be eaten by the wolf.

324. Kũrĩ mwoni na mũrata thĩ

    • Literal translation: There are lucky and unlucky people.
    • English equivalent: The wind of luck is inconstant.

325. Kũrĩ ũkuũ ũtatumwo, ta wa nyũngũ

    • Literal translation: There are things, like the earthen pot, which if ever broken can't be repaired.
    • English equivalent: For some evils there is no remedy.

326. Kũrĩa mbere ti gũkoroka

    • Literal translation: To eat first is not to be a glutton.

327. Kũrĩa mũno nĩ kuoria nda

    • Literal translation: To eat much means to spoil one's belly.
    • English equivalent: Too much breaks the bag.

328. Kũrĩa naĩ gũtigiragia mũndũ akarĩa wega

    • Literal translation: To eat bad food (today) does not prevent a person from having good food (tomorrow).
    • English equivalent: Change of fortune is the lot of life.

329. Kũrĩa thĩ ti kũrĩa tĩri

    • Literal translation: One does not eat the soil, but the fruit thereon.

330. Kũrĩa thirĩ nĩ kũrĩha

    • Literal translation: The way of eating a debt is paying it.
    • English equivalent: He that gets out of debt grows rich.

331. Kũrĩithia ĩmwe ti kwenda kwa mwene

    • Literal translation: To graze only one goat is not the owner's will.
    • English equivalent: Evils come though we do not want them.

332. Kũrĩkanĩra gũtigiragia ndeto ihĩtane

    • Literal translation: To have come to an agreement does not mean that the agreement may not be broken.
    • English equivalent: The cat and the dog may kiss, yet are none the better friends.

333. Kũrĩma nĩ kwĩenda

    • Literal translation: To till the land is to love oneself.
    • English equivalent: Work is well done that is well loved.

334. Kũrita nĩ kũru

    • Literal translation: It is bad to be a fool.

335. Kũrũga ti kwega, amu kĩũra kĩoragire ũthoni na irũga

    • Literal translation: To leap is bad, since the male-frog by leaping broke up the betrothal.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the following fable. One day the male-frog went to his fiancée's home to arrange the marriage with her father. But as soon as the fiancée noticed the indecorous leaping-posture assumed by the male frog during the conversation, she refused to marry him. The Kikuyu tell the proverb to express their esteem for decency and modesty.
    • English equivalent: Loquacity storms the ear, but modesty takes the heart.

336. Kũrua, kũgũrana na kũrĩha thirĩ gũtiĩriragwo

    • Literal translation: Nobody feels sorry for having been circumcissed, for having bought his wife and for having paid hi debts.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that there are certain things that leave no regrets.

337. Kũrua nĩ kũhĩa

    • Literal translation: Being circumcissed is like being scalded.
    • Contextual note: This means that the pain of the circumcission is a few minutes' pain.

338. Kũrua nĩ kwara itara

    • Literal translation: Being circumcissed is like building the 'itara'.
    • Contextual note: The 'itara' is a trellis of twigs suspended a short distance above the fire-place in the Kikuyu hut to prevent sparks from setting fire to the thatched roof. The same word is often used to mean the whole hut. Thus this proverb means that a young man as soon as circumcissed, must realise that the years of irresponsibility are over and that he must see about building his hut and starting a new home.
    • English equivalent: A married man must turn his staff into a stake.

339. Ku ndĩrĩaga

    • Literal translation: A blow does not always injure.

340. Kuma kwa mbaa gũthiĩ kwa heho

    • Literal translation: To come from rime and go into the bitter cold.
    • English equivalent: To fall out of the frying pan into the fire.

341. Kumagara nĩ kũhĩga

    • Literal translation: To come out of one's house means learning.
    • English equivalent: Travel makes a wise man better.

342. Kwa mũcũni nĩ gwateirwo nĩ mũhĩtũki

    • Literal translation: Mũcũni's place was ruined by the traveller.
    • Contextual note: 'Mũcũni' is the name of a person who refused hospitality to a passer by. Since hospitality is traditionally sacred among the Kikuyu, they say that this traveller cursed Mũcũni's house which went to ruin.

343. Kwa mũnegeni gũkĩũra, kwa mũkiri kworire tene

    • Literal translation: The house of the talkative man perished long after that of the quiet.
    • Contextual note: It is easy for somebody who is friendly to get help from others.

344. Kwa mwendwo gũtirĩ irĩma

    • Literal translation: On the way to one's beloved there are no hills.

345. Kwaria nĩ kwendana

    • Literal translation: Talking is loving one another.
    • English equivalent: Friendship increases by visiting friends.

346. Kwaria ti gũcaya

    • Literal translation: To talk is not to grumble.

347. Kwaria ti gũtua cira

    • Literal translation: To talk is not to decide.

348. Kwĩgeria mũciĩ nĩ kwĩgeria mathĩna

    • Literal translation: To start a family is to start troubles
    • English equivalent: When a man is married his troubles begin.

349. Kwĩgita ti guoya

    • Literal translation: To prepare is not to be afraid.
    • English equivalent: Let him that wants peace prepare for war.

350. Kwĩonera ti kwĩrwo

    • Literal translation: To see for one's self is different from being told.
    • English equivalent: Words are but wind, but seeing is believing.

351. Kuona kĩmera ti kũrĩa

    • Literal translation: To see the crop in the fields is not to eat it.
    • English equivalent: There is many a slip, 'twixt the cup and the lip.

M

352. Maaĩ maraitĩka matirĩ mũhĩtĩre

    • Literal translation: Spilt water has nobody to collect it.
    • English equivalent: It is no use crying over spilt milk.

353. Maaĩ mararu timo mahiũ

    • Literal translation: Lukewarm water is not hot water.

354. Maciara maingĩ nĩ mbĩrĩra nyingĩ

    • Literal translation: Many births mean many burials.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that in the family tree where there are many children one must expect many griefs too; and that people who run many businesses must also expect many reverses.
    • English equivalent: Much coin much care.

355. Mageria nomo mahota

    • Literal translation: Trials mean successes.
    • English equivalent: Where there is a will there is a way.

356. Maguta makũrũ matinaga rwĩmbo

    • Literal translation: Old fat sings no song.
    • Contextual note: This means that he who goes to dance does not anoint himself with rancid fat. The word 'fat' is used for 'beauty, youth'. The proverb means that old folks cannot have admirers as young ones; that old people cannot hope to have more children.
    • English equivalent: Water run by, will not turn a mill.

357. Maguta mambagio ũthiũ

    • Literal translation: The smearing begins on one's face.
    • Contextual note: Actually the Kikuyu who smear themselves very often, always begin the anointing on the face, and laugh at people who begin on any other part of the body.
    • English equivalent: There is a time and a way for all things.

358. Maheni marĩ mũtino

    • Literal translation: Lies are dangerous.
    • English equivalent: Liars have short wings.

359. Maheni ti thirĩ

    • Literal translation: Lies are no debt.

360. Maitho ma andũ matiendaga kĩndũ kĩhĩnju

    • Literal translation: Men's eyes do not like to see anything thin.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to children, oxen and goats.

361. Maitho ma arũme ti ma irang'a

    • Literal translation: Men's eyes are not the eyes of the 'irang'a'.
    • Contextual note: 'Irang'a' is an insect with very tiny eyes. The proverb means that the eyes of this insect see very little, while men's eyes see everything.

362. Maitho ma arũme ti mambo

    • Literal translation: Men's eyes are not like the 'mambo'.
    • Contextual note: 'Mambo' are the holes the Kikuyu make in the hides for fastening them to the ground when they dry them in the sun.

363. Maitho ma ciũra matigiragia ng'ombe inyue

    • Literal translation: The eyes of frogs do not prevent cattle from drinking.
    • English equivalent: Do what thou ought, let come what may.

364. Maitho maronana marĩ nduĩrĩro

    • Literal translation: The eyes which see each other are destined to see each other again.
    • English equivalent: Friendship increases by visiting friends.

365. Maithori ti rũthiomi

    • Literal translation: Tears are no language.
    • English equivalent: Tears, idle tears.

366. Marakara ma arũme matitũũraga ta ma aka

    • Literal translation: Men's anger does not last so long as women's.
    • English equivalent: Women are as prone to revenge injuries as men to forgive them.

367. Marakara ti gĩtei

    • Literal translation: Getting into rage means being proud.

368. Marĩ mbere matirutaga nyota

    • Literal translation: Run-by water does not quench the thirst.
    • English equivalent: Water run by, will not turn a mill.

369. Matarĩ maku mahĩtũkaga ũgĩkũnja itũma

    • Literal translation: The water that is not yours flows away while you are folding the 'itũma'.
    • Contextual note: 'Itũma' is the leaf of a kind of edible arum. Out of these large leaves the Kikuyu used to drink water.

370. Mathanwa marĩ kĩondo kĩmwe matiagaga gũkomorania

    • Literal translation: Many axes in one basket must hit against each other.

371. Matienda mwako mendaga mũrugũrio

    • Literal translation: Some people do not like the building of a hut, though they like the 'Mũrugũrio'.
    • Contextual note: 'Mũrugũrio' is a kind of dedication-ceremony held by the witch-doctor to solemnize the completion of a new hut. On such occassion the owner of the hut distributes beer to his relations and to the people who assisted him in the building.
    • English equivalent: There is scarcity of friendship but not of friends.

372. Matigana nomo moranwo

    • Literal translation: They who leave one another forget one another.
    • English equivalent: Out of sight, out of mind.

373. Matirũka nĩ maingĩ kũrũga magũa

    • Literal translation: Slips outnumber falls.
    • English equivalent: Every slip is not a fall.

374. Matukũ nĩ ngũrĩrĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: Days pass quickly.
    • English equivalent: Time fleeth away without delay.

375. Matukũ nĩ thĩgo

    • Literal translation: The days are a hurry, i.e. go quickly.
    • English equivalent: Time fleeth away without delay.

376. Matukũ ti ma kiumia

    • Literal translation: Not all days are sundays.
    • English equivalent: Christmas comes but once in a year.

377. Matumbĩ ma njamba matitũranaga

    • Literal translation: The eggs of males do not hatch each other.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means both that any man prefers living with a woman rather than another man, and that there ought not to be two people commanding in one home.
    • English equivalent: Two sparrows upon one ear of wheat cannot agree.

378. Maũndũ nĩ ndiganĩro

    • Literal translation: The important things are left in the locker.
    • Contextual note: In other words, they are not told to everybody.
    • English equivalent: Tell not all you know.

379. Mba yakwa ĩrĩhagwo na ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: My stolen or damaged lamb must be replaced by another.
    • English equivalent: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

380. Mbaara ti ũcũrũ

    • Literal translation: War is not porridge.

381. Mbaaraya ya aka ndĩrĩ ng'ondu

    • Literal translation: Women's strife has no sheep.
    • Contextual note: According to the Kikuyu custom the one that wounds another in a quarrel must pay a sheep as a fine. The proverb means that in women's strifes nobody incurs such a fine, for their quarrels are usually words only.
    • English equivalent: Words are for women, actions for men.

382. Mbarĩ ya ngeka makorirwo matarĩ meka

    • Literal translation: They who said 'I shall do' became people who had done nothing.
    • English equivalent: Never leave that till tomorrow which you can today.

383. Mbĩa ĩminaga ndarwa na igutha

    • Literal translation: The mouse finishes the hide by gnawing.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.

384. Mbere ndĩriragwo ta thutha

    • Literal translation: The future is not so much regretted as the past.

385. Mbere nĩ gĩkeno thutha nĩ maithori

    • Literal translation: Tears follow joy.

386. Mbere no mbere thutha no mũgiano

    • Literal translation: Before is before: afterwards there is nothing but repining.
    • English equivalent: Resist the beginnings.

387. Mbogo nyingĩ itirĩ nyama

    • Literal translation: Many buffaloes are no meat.
    • English equivalent: If you run after two hares, you will catch neither.

388. Mbũĩ nyingĩ ndĩrĩ munge

    • Literal translation: A small flower has no smell.
    • English equivalent: A little barrel can give but little meal.

389. Mbũri ĩgucagio nĩ mũnyũ

    • Literal translation: The goat is attracted by salt.
    • English equivalent: The bait not the hook catches the fish.

390. Mbũri itiugagĩrwo mbu

    • Literal translation: No alarm is shouted for a goat (because it is not a dangerous beast).
    • English equivalent: Do not waste time and money on unworthy things.

391. Mbũri na kaana itirumagwo

    • Literal translation: The goat and the child are not insulted (because they cannot defend themselves).

392. Mbũri ya mai ndĩremaga

    • Literal translation: One can always find the goat to pay the penalty for having defecated in another's house.
    • Contextual note: According to Kikuyu customs he who defecates in another's house is liable to be fined a goat. The proverb means that he whoincurred such penalty will contrive to find the means to pay it.
    • English equivalent: Necessity sharpens industry.

393. Mbũri ya rwagatha ndĩkiraga

    • Literal translation: A chattering goat does not keep its tongue.
    • Contextual note: The word 'goat' is here used instead of 'people'.
    • English equivalent: A fool may ask more questions in an hour than a wise man can answer in seven years.

394. Mbũri yene mũitha nĩ gũtũ

    • Literal translation: The best part of another's goat is the ear.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a stranger coming in when a slaughtered goat is distributed, must not expect to be given a choice morsel, but rather an inferior part like an ear. Metaphorically the proverb means that a prudent person keeps for himself and his family the best parts of anything instead of giving them away to his visitors and friends.

395. Mbũri ndĩa mũhu ndĩngĩrigaria

    • Literal translation: The goat which eats ashes does not hide its habit.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu live under the same roof as their animals. So if any goat forms the habit of leaving its place and coming to lick ashes at the fire, it will soon be discovered. In the same manner the vices of the wicked will soon be known.

396. Mbũri ngũrũ ndĩtihagĩra tũhũ

    • Literal translation: An old goat does not sneeze without cause.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that old folks speak the truth and do not speak without reason.
    • English equivalent: Old dogs bark not for nothing.

397. Mbũri ti marigũ

    • Literal translation: Goats are not bananas (which are given for nothing).
    • English equivalent: There are no pains without pains.

398. Mbũri ya ngĩa yaringĩrĩra no ũguo bata ũringagĩrĩra

    • Literal translation: When the poor man's goat is about to kid, then the need drops also.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if a man rejoices because his goat is going to kid and so increase property, a sudden need might force him to sell his goat.
    • English equivalent: Count not your chickens before they be hatched.

399. Mbu ya arũme ĩtĩkagio nĩ athamaki

    • Literal translation: Men's alarm-shouts are answered by the elders.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if the alarm is shouted only by women one can make light of it; but if the alarm is cried by men there exists a real danger. Metaphorically the proverb means that women cannot claim any right of discussing or giving evidence in court.
    • English equivalent: Let women spin and not preach.

400. Mbugi ndĩkĩrĩte mũriha

    • Literal translation: The bell needs its tongue.
    • Contextual note: In this proverb the word 'bell' means 'woman', and 'tongue' means 'man'.
    • English equivalent: Wives must be bad, be they good or bad.

401. Mburungo nyinyi ĩrĩ mũthiomeri ĩrũgĩte nene ĩtarĩ mũthiomeri

    • Literal translation: A trifle well presented becomes more precious than a thing of great value badly presented.
    • English equivalent: It is not the value of a gift that matters but the intentions of the giver.

402. Me haraya matirutaga nyota

    • Literal translation: A distant water does not quench one's thirst.

403. Menya wĩgerere ndũkore.

    • Literal translation: Be not too proud lest you ruin yourself.

401. Mburungo nyinyi ĩrĩ mũthiomeri ĩrũgĩte nene ĩtarĩ mũthiomeri

    • Literal translation: A trifle well presented becomes more precious than a thing of great value badly presented.
    • English equivalent: It is not the value of a gift that matters but the intentions of the giver.

402. Me haraya matirutaga nyota

    • Literal translation: A distant water does not quench one's thirst.

403. Menya wĩgerere ndũkore

    • Literal translation: Be not too proud lest you ruin yourself.

404. Mĩano ndĩtukanagio no kanua

    • Literal translation: The 'mĩano' cannot be confused, but the mouth can.
    • Contextual note: 'Mĩano' are the small gourds used by witch-doctors to contain the divining stones. The proverbs means that the divining stones cannot fail to tell the truth, though it may happen that the witch-doctor does not tell it.
    • English equivalent: God cures and the doctor takes the fee.

405. Mĩgambo nĩ mĩrukĩ ya ngoro

    • Literal translation: The words are the odour of the heart.
    • English equivalent: The tongue ever turns to the aching tooth.

406. Mĩgũgũta ĩrĩ ndĩambagĩrĩrio

    • Literal translation: Two hides are not laid out at the same time.
    • English equivalent: One cannot be in two places at once.

407. Mĩgũĩre ya ngũ na ya mĩgogo ti ĩmwe

    • Literal translation: The fall of branches and that of big trees are not the same.

408. Mĩhehũ yongagĩrĩrwo gũkunga

    • Literal translation: Speaking in a whisper is followed by hiding (in order to steal).
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that people who whisper are probably arranging something evil.
    • English equivalent: Beware of a silent dog and still water.

409. Mĩtheko ĩtarĩ gĩthimi yumaga kanua-inĩ ka irimũ

    • Literal translation: Laugh without measure comes out of fools' mouths.
    • English equivalent: The laughter of fools.

410. Mondo ti thegi

    • Literal translation: One's pocket is not a repository (in which all people can put their hands).
    • Contextual note: Pocket means in this case home affairs.
    • English equivalent: Scald not your lips in another man's pottage.

411. Mondo yene ndĩikagio njara

    • Literal translation: The hand has not to be put into another's pocket.
    • English equivalent: Scald not your lips in another man's pottage.

412. Mũbatari ndaconokaga

    • Literal translation: He who is in necessity does not feel ashamed (to ask for help).

413. Mũcakwe ũgũithagia njamba

    • Literal translation: A cob of maize can knock down a giant.
    • English equivalent: A small leak will sink a great ship.

414. Mũcangacangi onaga mĩguongo

    • Literal translation: It is he who travels that finds the tusk.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

415. Mũcarĩ ũrutagwo ndũgũ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: Yaws is caught through friendship.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that just as the disease is contracted by contact with infected people, so bad habits are acquired by consorting with bad people.
    • English equivalent: Who keeps company with a wolf will learn how to howl.

416. Mũcaria ũngĩ ndamwagaga

    • Literal translation: He who looks for another must find him.
    • English equivalent: He who will seek may find.

417. Mũceera na mũkũndũ akũndũkaga taguo

    • Literal translation: He who walks with a mangy man becomes mangy.
    • English equivalent: He who keeps company with a wolf will learn to howl.

418. Mũciari arĩ tha

    • Literal translation: Parents are merciful.

419. Mũciari ndairagio ngoro nĩ kĩmira kĩa mwana wake

    • Literal translation: Parents do not feel sick when wiping the mucus from their child's nose.

420. Mũciari ndathikũragia igwa itina

    • Literal translation: Parents do not take away the earth that covers the root of the sugar cane.
    • Contextual note: As a good farmer does not uncover the roots of the sugar cane lest it may dry, so good parents have a limit also in punishing their children.

421. Mũciari nĩ etĩagĩra

    • Literal translation: Parents are proud of their chidren.

422. Mũciĩ ndwathagwo nĩ ũtawakire

    • Literal translation: The house is not ruled by him that did not build it.
    • English equivalent: Mind your own business.

423. Mũciĩ nĩ kũrarwo ũraragwo, ndũtindagwo.

    • Literal translation: The house is for sleeping in by night, not for staying in by day.
    • English equivalent: There is a time for all things.

424. Mũciĩ ũrĩ mbũri ndwagaga kĩhuno

    • Literal translation: The house which has goats does not lack miscarriages.
    • English equivalent: Who has land, has war.

425. Mũcingũ mũnene unaga hiti kũgũrũ

    • Literal translation: The strong smell (of roasting meat) causes the hyena to break its leg.
    • English equivalent: Hasty climbers have sudden falls.

426. Mũcirĩri kĩrimũ ndaigaga mũthĩgi thĩ

    • Literal translation: He who advises a fool does not lay down his 'muthigi'.
    • Contextual note: 'Muthigi' is the staff of the elders.

427. Mũciri ũmwe ndagambaga

    • Literal translation: One man alone in a tribunal can say nothing, i.e. can take no decision.

428. Mũcukani ndarĩ mũciĩ mwega

    • Literal translation: A slanderer has no peaceful home.
    • English equivalent: Slander flings stones at itself.

429. Mũgambo ũrĩ kũgũa thĩ nduoyagwo; woyagwo na ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: A word that has fallen to the ground cannot be picked up: it is picked up by another.
    • English equivalent: Time and words can never be recalled.

430. Mũgambo ũroigwo ndugũkagwo

    • Literal translation: A word given must not be retaken.

431. Mũgariũra igĩrĩ ndagaga ĩmwe ĩcura

    • Literal translation: He who broils two maize cobs (at the same time) burns one of them.
    • English equivalent: He who hunts two hares leaves one and loses the other.

432. Mũgathĩ ũrĩ gũtwĩka ndũcokaga mũigana

    • Literal translation: A broken necklace cannot be made whole again.
    • English equivalent: A broken friendship may be soldered, but will never be sound.

433. Mũgathĩ wa kuona ũteaga wa mwene

    • Literal translation: The necklace found makes you lose your own, too.
    • English equivalent: Ill-gotten things seldom prosper.

434. Mũgeni amĩaga mbĩrĩra

    • Literal translation: The foreigner evacuates in the cemetery (for he does not know the place and its customs).

435. Mũgeni kĩrimũ ndarugagĩrwo njohi

    • Literal translation: One does not give any beer to a foolish visitor.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means both that it is not honourable for the host to give hospitality to a fool, and that it is silly to give beer to a fool since he does not enjoy it.
    • English equivalent: He is not the fool that the fool is, but he that with the fools deals.

436. Mũgeni ndahũhitaga

    • Literal translation: A guest does not eat as much as he wants; i.e. he must not be greedy.

437. Mũgeni nĩ rũũĩ

    • Literal translation: The guest is like a river, i.e. he passes quickly.
    • English equivalent: Fish and guests smell at three days old.

438. Mũgethi ũtukũ agethire kĩrĩ muura

    • Literal translation: He who harvests by night, reaps chaff.
    • English equivalent: There is a time for all things.

439. Mũgĩ nĩ mwĩre

    • Literal translation: He who has been advised is wise.
    • English equivalent: A man forewarned is forearmed.

440. Mũgĩri rwa kũnyitũra agĩrire rwa kũnyitia

    • Literal translation: One can cause the illness which he wanted to cure.
    • English equivalent: The cure may be worse than the disease.

441. Mũgiti ndagaga rũhara

    • Literal translation: He who irritates will be scratched.
    • English equivalent: Let the sleeping dogs lie.

442. Mũgogo ũmwe ndũhingaga iriũko

    • Literal translation: One trunk does not close a river.
    • English equivalent: One flower makes no garland.

443. Mũgoma mũrungu nĩ ũtũraga nyũngũ

    • Literal translation: The she-sheep can break the cooking pot, and still she has no horn.
    • Contextual note: Cooking pot means here an affair of great importance. The meaning of the proverb is that a fool can spoil wise people's affairs.

444. Mũgũnda ũraga na rũtere

    • Literal translation: A field begins to become wilderness from a side; i.e. from a small place.
    • English equivalent: A little neglect may breed a great mischief.

445. Mũgũnda wa mwere ũmenyagwo na ngetho

    • Literal translation: One knows a field of millet from its crop.
    • English equivalent: A tree is known by its fruits.

446. Mũgũnda wene ndũinagwo

    • Literal translation: Another's field is not praised.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the fact that the Kikuyu when they are drunk imagine themselves very rich, and so become proud of others' riches.

447. Mũgũrĩra hakuhĩ nĩ ta aheo

    • Literal translation: The man who buys something at a place near by is like the man who is given something.
    • English equivalent: That is little esteemed that costs little.

448. Mũguĩ ũtarĩ wa awa nĩ ũkũndembũrĩra thiaka

    • Literal translation: The arrow which is not my father's, pierces my quiver.
    • English equivalent: Ill gotten goods seldom prosper.

449. Mũhaka na ciake itimuragia thakame

    • Literal translation: He who pays another with his own things, does not bleed.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that one spends his money willingly when he needs help.

450. Mũhakana na ciake itimũragĩra

    • Literal translation: He who stands close to his things does not lose them.
    • English equivalent: The master's eyes make the horse fat.

451. Mũhaki ndarĩ hiũ igĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: The messenger of peace has no two knives (presents).
    • English equivalent: Messengers should neither be beheaded nor hanged.

452. Mũhandi tiwe mũrĩi

    • Literal translation: He who plants is not he who eats.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

453. Mũharwo nĩwe ũthingataga gĩthaka

    • Literal translation: The one with diarrhoea must look for a bush.
    • English equivalent: Let him that is cold blow coal.

454. Mũhehwo nĩ matũ merĩ ndaiguaga

    • Literal translation: He who is spoken to at both ears does not understand.
    • English equivalent: Too much consulting confounds.

455. Mũhenania ndathekaga

    • Literal translation: A liar does not laugh (for if a liar laughs when he tells a lie he is not believed).

456. Mũhenia ago oigaga mũrimũ ũrĩ gũthira

    • Literal translation: He who would deceive the witch-doctors says that his illness is finished.
    • English equivalent: Hide nothing from thy minister, physician and lawyer.

457. Mũhenio arĩ matukũ kũrĩ mũhenania

    • Literal translation: The deceived has many more days than the deceiver.
    • English equivalent: Liars have short wings.

458. Mũhenio ti mũgĩ ta mũhenania

    • Literal translation: The deceived is not so cunning as the deceiver.

459. Mũheo ndagathimaga

    • Literal translation: He who receives must not measure.
    • English equivalent: Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

460. Mũhĩkana na kũrĩa ahĩkanaga na gũitwo

    • Literal translation: He who takes his food in a hurry, is also choked in a hurry.
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

461. Mũhĩki arĩaga rũbia

    • Literal translation: He who hastens eats money; i.e. wastes his money.
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

462. Mũhĩki atumaga rwerũ

    • Literal translation: He who is in a hurry sews a garment (whereas he could mend the old one).
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

463. Mũhĩrĩga ti mũhĩrĩgo

    • Literal translation: A clan is not a wall (which can be destroyed).
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu are very keen on keeping distinction between one clan and the other. That is why they say that distinction cannot be cancelled.

464. Mũhoreri ndarĩ ngũĩ

    • Literal translation: He who is quiet has no troubles

465. Mũhotwo ndararaga kĩharo

    • Literal translation: He that has been beaten in a quarrel does not sleep in the court-yard.
    • English equivalent: Scalded cats fear even cold water.

466. Mũhũũnu etaga ũhũtiĩ mũkoroku

    • Literal translation: He who is surfeited calls the hungry one glutton.
    • English equivalent: It is easy preaching to the fasting in a full belly.

467. Mũici athamagia mũrogi

    • Literal translation: The thief makes the poisoner change his residence.
    • Contextual note: The proverb comes from the following story. A witch-doctor intended to poison a thief. But the thief always managed to steal the poison and the witch-doctor had to find a fresh home.

468. Mũici na kĩhĩĩ atigaga kĩeha kĩarua

    • Literal translation: He who robbed in company with a boy will live in fear until the boy is circumcissed.
    • English equivalent: What children hear at home soon flies abroad.

469. Mũici na mũndũ mũka atigaga kĩeha akua

    • Literal translation: He who robbed in company with a woman, will live in fear until she dies (for a woman cannot keep a secret).
    • English equivalent: Woman conceals only what she knows not.

470. Mũici ndathiragwo nĩ marĩ hĩndĩ

    • Literal translation: The thief cannot keep fit, because his stools contain undigested food.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a thief, who eats his food in a hurry and with the fear of being caught, cannot enjoy good health.
    • English equivalent: Ill-gotten things seldom prosper.

471. Mũici ũrĩ hunyũ arindagĩra ũrĩ maguta

    • Literal translation: An ugly thief is more likely to be caught than one smeared with fat: i.e. carefully dressed.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a robber who cannot dissemble will soon be discovered, while the thief who can sham, will continue to flourish.

472. Mũici ũtarĩ mũnyite nĩ mũrĩa gake

    • Literal translation: The thief who has not been caught eats of his own.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that stolen goods belong to the thief if he is not caught.

473. Mũici wa mũthenya nĩ oĩo, na wa ũtukũ nĩ oĩo

    • Literal translation: He who robs in the day is known, and he who robs in the night is known, too.
    • English equivalent: What is done by night appears by day.

474. Mũigua ũthekagĩrĩra cong'e

    • Literal translation: The big thorn laughs at the small one.
    • English equivalent: The greatest thieves punish the small ones.

475. Mũihwa ndahoyaga na ndaimagwo

    • Literal translation: A cousin does not ask and is not refused anything (because he is a member of the kindred).

476. Mũihwa ndaimagwo rũnyeni

    • Literal translation: A cousin is not denied a meal.
    • Contextual note: Both proverbs mean:
    • English equivalent: Charity begins at home.

477. Mũikarania na kĩimba ndagaga maithori

    • Literal translation: He who stays near a corpse cannot help weeping.

478. Mũikaranio nĩguo mũbarano

    • Literal translation: To stay together is to kno each other.

479. Mũikari mũtĩ gĩtina nĩwe ũĩ kĩrĩa thambo ĩrĩaga

    • Literal translation: He who stays at the foot of the tree knows what 'thambo' eat.
    • Contextual note: 'Thambo' are the black ants which live and nest on the trees. The proverb means that nobody knows the affairs of a home, society, etc. better than he who lives or has part in it.
    • English equivalent: Every man knows his own business best.

480. Mũikari na hunyũ ndakoragwo onete maguta akarega kwĩhaka

    • Literal translation: He who is ugly, is not so because he refused to smear himself with fat (but rather because he had no fat to smear himself with).
    • English equivalent: We are but what God made us.

481. Mũikia ndoĩ mwehereri

    • Literal translation: He that shoots an arrow does not know whom he will hit.
    • English equivalent: You know not where a stone may light.

482. Mũimwo nĩ irĩ ndatũũraga

    • Literal translation: He on whom fortune has frowned cannot live long.

483. Mũingatwo na kĩhooto ndacokaga

    • Literal translation: The man overwhelmed by another's arguments does not return to discuss matters.
    • English equivalent: Once bitten, twice shy.

484. Mũinũki kwao ndatukagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: He who keeps good hours is not surprised by night.
    • English equivalent: Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

485. Mũka mũcangacangi ndagaga mwana

    • Literal translation: A woman that hangs about does not lack children.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the married women who, failing to have children of their husbands', go around looking for other men.

486. Mũka mũkũrũ acokagĩrĩrwo na gĩkuũ

    • Literal translation: One returns to the old wife when the young one dies.
    • English equivalent: Half a loaf is better than no bread.

487. Mũka ũrĩ kĩronda ainagĩra gĩtiro ihũgo

    • Literal translation: The woman who has a sore dances on the outskirts.
    • English equivalent: A guilty conscience needs no accuser.

488. Mũka ũrĩ mwana ndoraga

    • Literal translation: The woman who has children does not desert her home.

489. Mũka wa mwathi ahingaga na kũgũrũ etereire kĩgurumũki oke

    • Literal translation: The hunter's wife, awaiting her husband's return, closes the door only with her foot; i.e. she leaves the door unbolted so that her husband may enter more quickly with his prey.

490. Mũikarĩre nĩ ũmwe no mũrarĩre ti ũmwe

    • Literal translation: To stay together is not the same as to have the same type of life.
    • Contextual note: People often agree in words but not in judgement.

491. Mũkagera mahoro ma ndũgĩra

    • Literal translation: You will pass through the ear-holes.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu pierce the lobes and the upper part of their ears to put wooden sticks in the holes as an ornament. They use this proverb referring to people attempting to perform impossibilities.
    • English equivalent: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

492. Mũkami tiwe mũnyiti njaũ

    • Literal translation: He that milks is not he that holds the calf.
    • English equivalent: Every man to his own job.

493. Mũkarĩ aimaga ũhũniĩ

    • Literal translation: The miser denies food to him who is surfeited.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to stingy people who deny some help to others who would in turn be the most helpful.

494. Mũũkĩri tene ainũkaga tene

    • Literal translation: He who gets up early returns early.
    • English equivalent: The early bird catches the worm.

495. Mũkũrĩra gĩthũnũ ndamenyagwo

    • Literal translation: He who ages in the 'gĩthũnũ' is not known by other people how old he is.
    • Contextual note: 'Gĩthũnũ' is a dormitory where unmarried people sleep. The proverb means that he who has no hut and no wife will age without having children to tell him how old he is.

496. Mũkũrũ, gaya, ũnyonie mũgaĩre

    • Literal translation: Old man, divide, and teach me how to divide.
    • Contextual note: This proverb shows how the Kikuyu respected old people, to whom was left the distribution of meat, beer, etc. at all gatherings.
    • English equivalent: Old age is honourable.

497. Mũkwithia arĩ itigi kwĩ mũthati

    • Literal translation: The woman whose sons have died is richer than a barren woman.

498. Mũmbi arugaga na ngĩo

    • Literal translation: The pot-maker cooks in a potsherd.
    • English equivalent: The tailor's wife is worst clad.

499. Mũmeni mũndũ ũngĩ amwĩtaga kĩongo kĩa njaũ

    • Literal translation: He who despises another man, calls him 'head of calf'.
    • Contextual note: Owing to their esteem for oxen, it is not dishonourable for the Kikuyu to be told he has a head as big as that of an ox. But it is shameful to be called 'head of calf' since the calf is a useless animal.

500. Mũmeni ũngĩ amũrutaga mbakĩ iniũrũ

    • Literal translation: He who despises another steals even the snuff from his nose; i.e. has no respect for him.

501. Mũndũ ageraga maimwo ndageraga maheo

    • Literal translation: Man counts what he is refused, not what he is given.
    • English equivalent: We are more mindful of injuries than benefits.

502. Mũndũ mũgĩ ndarĩ mũhere wa ũhoro

    • Literal translation: A wise man does not need to be told a thing twice.
    • English equivalent: A word is enough to the wise.

503. Mũndũ mũgo nderagũragĩra

    • Literal translation: The witch-doctor cannot do for himself what he does for others.

504. Mũndũ mũgo wa gwĩthokia ndarĩ rũa

    • Literal translation: The witch-doctor who goes to see a patient without being sent for, will not have the hide of the slaughtered goat; i.e. will have no reward.
    • English equivalent: Give no counsel no salt till you are asked for it.

505. Mũndũ mũgo wa itũũra ndagaga

    • Literal translation: The witch-doctor of the place is not needed.
    • English equivalent: Never a prophet was valued in his own country.

506. Mũndũ mũka na igũrũ itimenyagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Woman and sky cannot be understood.
    • English equivalent: Woman, wind and fortune are ever changing.

507. Mũndũ mũka ndoragagwo

    • Literal translation: A woman must not be killed.
    • Contextual note: The reasons for this proverb are the facts that the woman is too weak to defend herself and that only the woman can produce children.

508. Mũndũ mũka ndatũmagwo thirĩ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: A woman is not sent to collect debts.
    • English equivalent: Let women spin and not preach.

509. Mũndũ mũigwa nĩ mũhootani

    • Literal translation: The obedient man gets through.
    • English equivalent: Do what thou ought and dread no shame.

510. Mũndũ mũrũme nĩ wa karũgĩ

    • Literal translation: Men act promptly.

511. Mũndũ ũrakanyuĩra nĩwe ũĩ karĩ rita

    • Literal translation: He that has drunk once, knows that to drink is a pleasure; i.e. he who has experienced something knows whether it is good or bad.
    • English equivalent: Experience is the father of wisdom.

512. Mũndũ ũrĩ na ũndũ otaga mwaki na riũa

    • Literal translation: The man who warms himself at the fire while the sun is shining, does so for some reason.

513. Mũndũ ũtarĩ mbũri ndendaga nyama

    • Literal translation: People who have no goat do not desire meat.
    • English equivalent: 'Sour grapes,' as the fox said when he could not reach them.

514. Mũndũ ũtathiaga athĩnjaga mwatĩ atoĩ ndũrũme ĩrĩ gĩcegũ

    • Literal translation: He that does not travel slaughters the she goat as he is ignorant of a ram in his fold; i.e. he is stupid.

515. Mũndũ ũtathiaga oĩ no nyina ũrugaga

    • Literal translation: He who does not travel only knows his mother's cooking.
    • Contextual note: Both the proverbs mean that he that does not leave his native place will have a very limited knowledge.
    • English equivalent: The world is a great book, of which they who never stir from home read only one page.

516. Mũndũ wa rurugi ourugagwo akerwo nĩwe wourugana

    • Literal translation: He who is wont to provoke others, is called a provoker even when he is provoked.
    • English equivalent: A liar is not believed when he speaks the truth.

517. Mũndwithia rĩmwe ngagacoka kũnwithia rĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: He who has circumcised me once does not return to do it again.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he who has erred or has been cheated once, becomes wise and will not be cheated a second time.
    • English equivalent: He who stumbles twice over one stone deserves to break his shins.

518. Mũnua ũmwe nĩ ũgarũragĩrwo

    • Literal translation: One mouth must be changed; i.e. it is not good to talk always with the same person nor about the same things.
    • English equivalent: Change of pasture makes fat calves.

519. Mũnyaka nĩ ũnyakũkagwo

    • Literal translation: Fortune passes.
    • English equivalent: When fortune smiles, take the advantage.

520. Mũnyaka ũrĩ mbere ya kahinga

    • Literal translation: Fortune is beyond the bush; i.e. the obstacle.
    • English equivalent: He that endures overcomes.

521. Mũnyaka ndũrokaga

    • Literal translation: Fortune is not a thing that must surely come.
    • English equivalent: Fortune is not of every day.

522. Mũnyotu athiaga rũũĩ

    • Literal translation: He who is thirsty goes to the river.
    • English equivalent: Let him that is cold blow the coal.

523. Mũra na mũndũ ti mũra na hiti

    • Literal translation: To be robbed by a person is different from being robbed by a hyena.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if you were robbed by a person, you can hope to be recompensed for the damage; but if a member of your family or a head of your herd has been stoled by a hyena, there is no hope for redress.
    • English equivalent: There are injuries beyond redress.

524. Mũragani ndakayaga, no mũragwo ũkayaga

    • Literal translation: It is not the killer that moans, but the killed.

525. Mũregi akĩrwo ndaregaga akĩhetwo

    • Literal translation: He who refuses (to do something) when asked, does not refuse when forced.

526. Mũregi gwathwo ndangĩhota gwathana

    • Literal translation: He who refuses to obey cannot command.
    • English equivalent: He that knows not how to obey, knows not how to command.

527. Mũremwo nĩ ndũgo oigaga nja ĩrĩ mahiga

    • Literal translation: He who cannot dance says that the yard is stony.
    • English equivalent: A bad workman complains of his tools.

528. Mũrĩ kũrĩa ta athi a thatũ

    • Literal translation: Sometimes one eats bad food like the hunters when they are out hunting in the misty season.
    • Contextual note: This proverb comes from the fact that hunters, who stay in the forest or in the plain for rather a long time must often be content with cold raw food.
    • English equivalent: When bread is wanting, oaten cakes are excellent.

529. Mũrĩa na gatĩ ndoi mũrĩa na kaara nĩ akũhĩa

    • Literal translation: He who eats with a stick does not know that he who eats with the fingers gets scalded.

530. Mũria ngime nĩ ũrĩ mũkimĩri

    • Literal translation: He who eats cooked food has someone who cooks for him.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he who desires a thing sufficiently either can easily have it, or will make efforts to get it.
    • English equivalent: Nothing is imposssible to a willing mind.

531. Mũrĩa njĩthĩ yake ndarũndagwo

    • Literal translation: He is not condemned who eats even unripe maize of his own fields.
    • English equivalent: Every man is a king in his own house.

532. Mũrĩa wiki akuaga wiki

    • Literal translation: He who eats alone dies alone.

533. Mũrĩmĩrwo nĩ ithe ndoi indo irĩ bata

    • Literal translation: He who has fields tilled by his father, does not know that things are precious.
    • English equivalent: What costs little is little esteemed.

534. Mũrĩmi ndoinagwo guoko

    • Literal translation: One must not break the arm of him who tills the fields.
    • English equivalent: Do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

535. Mũrĩmi ũmwe ndaiyũragia ikũmbĩ

    • Literal translation: One tiller does not fill the granary.
    • English equivalent: Union is strength.

536. Mũrĩmi tiwe mũrĩi

    • Literal translation: He that tills the earth is not he that eats(its fruits).

537. Mũrĩo ndũminaga ng'aragu

    • Literal translation: Sweetness does not satisfy hunger.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that pleasures do not quench the thirst for many more pleasures. But it is also used when we should say:
    • English equivalent: 'Sweet words butter no parsnips.'

538. Mũrĩo ndũnenganagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Pleasure cannot be communicated.
    • Contextual note: This proverb means that he who has any reason for rejoicing, cannot feel unhappy even if his friends or neighbours are grieved.

539. Mũrĩo ndũtũũraga ta ngatho

    • Literal translation: Pleasures do not last so much as gratitude.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that few virtues are as great as gratitude and that few joys are greater than that of being thanked for a service.
    • English equivalent: Gratitude surpasses all other virtues.

540. Mũrĩo nĩwĩrĩagĩra

    • Literal translation: Sweetness eats up itself
    • Contextual note: and

541. Mũrĩo ũgĩraga kĩeha

    • Literal translation: Sweetness brings sorrow.
    • English equivalent: Pleasure stings even though it pleases.

542. Mũrĩo ũminaga magego

    • Literal translation: Sweetness spoils teeth.

543. Mũrĩo ũrutaga hũngũ mũtĩ igũrũ

    • Literal translation: Sweetness makes the vulture descend from the tree.
    • English equivalent: Beauty draws more than oxen.

544. Mũrĩo wa njohi nĩ ũrĩũkagwo, no wa indo ndũrĩũkagwo

    • Literal translation: The drunkenness of beer passes away, but the drunkenness of wealth lasts forever.
    • English equivalent: Avarice increases with wealth.

545. Mũria rũnene ndarũrĩagĩra

    • Literal translation: He who asks too much will not eat anything.
    • English equivalent: All covet, all lose.

546. Mũriganio ũrĩ tha

    • Literal translation: They who live together must be merciful.
    • English equivalent: Bear and forbear is good philosophy.

547. Mũrimũ ndũrĩ hinya ũgĩtonya mwĩrĩ ta ũkiuma

    • Literal translation: Illness enters the body with less difficulty than it meets on going away.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes come on wing and depart on foot.

548. Mũrimũ wa mũcoka nĩguo ũragaga mũndũ

    • Literal translation: It is the illness that returns that kills people.
    • English equivalent: Resist the beginnings.

549. Mũrogi tiwe mũrogori

    • Literal translation: The poisoner cannot stop the effect of the poison.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the superstition by which a person who has been poisoned cannot go to his poisoner to have the effect of poison neutralized by his arts but must go to another person, who is called 'mũrogori'.

550. Mũrori arũga mũrĩmi

    • Literal translation: He who looks at another's field sees many more weeds than does its owner.
    • English equivalent: To be blind to one's own faults.

551. Mũrugĩri arũme ndagaga ngiha

    • Literal translation: He who cooks food for men, does not lack big veins, i.e. bruises.
    • Contextual note: This proverb means that he who works for a master must do his duty to avoid punishment.
    • English equivalent: Men like facts not words.

552. Mũrũngũru wa njamba ũtahaga na ime

    • Literal translation: He who rises early skips in the dew.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that people who get up early finish their work early.
    • English equivalent: The early bird catches the worm.

553. Mũrurĩ ndwakaga

    • Literal translation: The 'mũrurĩ' does not build.
    • Contextual note: 'Mũrurĩ' is a forest tree with beautiful red flowers, but yielding very poor timber.
    • English equivalent: All is not gold that glitters.

554. Mũrwithia arũme aarĩ kĩhĩĩ

    • Literal translation: He who circumcises the boy was a boy, too.

555. Mũrwithia arũme nĩ arwithagio

    • Literal translation: He who circumcises the male was circumcised.
    • English equivalent: The child is father of the man.

556. Mũtego ti ngoro, nĩ wathi warera

    • Literal translation: It is not the trap that counts, but the art of trapping.
    • English equivalent: A good archer is known by his aim, not his arrows.

557. Mũteng'erania na mũteng'erio gũtirĩ ũtanogaga

    • Literal translation: Both he that chases and he that is chased become tired.
    • English equivalent: Everyone has his own troubles.

558. Mũthakwa wa athi ndũthiragwo nĩ gĩcanjara

    • Literal translation: The 'muthakwa-tree' will not discontinue to produce branches of only one shape.
    • English equivalent: Like father like son.

559. Mũthamaki ũterwo ti mũthamaki

    • Literal translation: The wise man who is not taught is not a wise man.

560. Mũthĩnio nĩ kuona arũga mũthĩnio nĩ wagi

    • Literal translation: He who is troubled by having (property) is better off than he who is troubled by poverty.

561. Mũthiĩrwo ũgo-inĩ no ũrĩa arĩrwo

    • Literal translation: He who sends somebody to a witch-doctor on his behalf must believe all he is told.

562. Mũthiganwo nĩ ũrĩ nja ndahonokaga

    • Literal translation: He who is sought by a man already in the courtyard, has no way of escape.
    • Contextual note: To understand this proverb one must bear in mind that the Kikuyu hut has only one entrance and no window.
    • English equivalent: There is no medicine against death.

563. Mũthiĩ wiki akuaga wiki

    • Literal translation: He who travels alone, dies alone.

564. Mũthii ndoimbĩkaga irigũ

    • Literal translation: He who starts (on a long journey) does not put a banana to toast under the ashes (for he is not sure he will come back to eat it).

565. Mũthii onaga magothe

    • Literal translation: He who travels sees many things.
    • English equivalent: The world is a great book, of which they who never stir from home read only one page.

566. Mũthii tene ainũkaga tene

    • Literal translation: He who starts early returns early.

567. Mũthikani ndathikagwo

    • Literal translation: He who buries (the others) is not buried.
    • English equivalent: Do good, but do not expect to receive it.

568. Mũthiũrũri nĩ ethiũrũraga

    • Literal translation: He who turns others around may also turn himself around.
    • Contextual note: According to the Kikuyu superstition to turn a person round is to wish him misfortune.
    • English equivalent: The devil that cometh out of thy mouth flieth to thy bosom.

569. Mũthũgũni itheri akĩra wĩkonotete

    • Literal translation: He who has a bone (to lick) is happier than he who gathers up his limbs for hunger.
    • English equivalent: When bread is wanting, oaten cakes are excellent.

570. Mũthũgũri nĩ akuaga

    • Literal translation: He who goes himself to buy things carries them too.

571. Mũthũngũ ndarĩ nyagĩtũgĩ

    • Literal translation: The European has (among the natives) no trustworthy man.
    • Contextual note: This is a modern proverb of clear meaning.

572. Mũthũnũko ũgĩraga mũkindĩrio

    • Literal translation: Wickedness begets remorse.

573. Mũthũri mũndũ tiwe Ngai

    • Literal translation: He that dislikes a person--is he God?
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if anyone is hated by men, he is not necessarily hated also by God.
    • English equivalent: God is just.

574. Mũthua ngoro ti mũthua kũgũrũ

    • Literal translation: He that is lame of heart--unlike him that is lame of foot--cannot be recognized.
    • English equivalent: All is not gold that glitters.

575. Mũthuri ũtarĩ kahĩĩ nĩwe wĩriragĩra ngururu

    • Literal translation: The married man who has no son goes himself to scare away the birds from his harvest.

576. Mũtĩ mũmũ ndũciaraga mũigũ

    • Literal translation: A dried up tree does not bear a green one.
    • English equivalent: One cannot get blood out of a stone.

577. Mũtĩ ũgũagĩra mũndũ ũrĩ hakuhi

    • Literal translation: The tree falls on the man who stands by it.

578. Mũtĩ ũtagũtemwo ndũgerekagĩrĩrio ithanwa

    • Literal translation: A tree that is not intended to be felled, is not aimed at with an axe.
    • Contextual note: It is told to people who, devoting themselves to many things at the same time, finish none.
    • English equivalent: Jack of all trades and master of none.

579. Mũtiga mwahũ akoraga igima

    • Literal translation: He who leaves a bunch of bananas finds a whole stalk.
    • English equivalent: Give and spend, and God will send.

580. Mũtigwo iganjo ndagaga gĩa kuoya

    • Literal translation: The man left where there was once a hut, will certainly find something.

581. Mũtiga njerũ akoraga njerũ

    • Literal translation: He who leaves a white goat will meet another of the same colour.
    • English equivalent: Contentment is above wealth.

582. Mũtino ũrutaga mũndũ ũrĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: Danger makes a man rise from bed.
    • English equivalent: Men in danger need no spur.

583. Mũtino ũthatagia ndigĩrĩri

    • Literal translation: Misfortunes frustrates one's plans.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

584. Mũtirima wa kĩrimũ wĩtirimagia na mũgĩ

    • Literal translation: A fool's walking-stick helps the wise man to stand.
    • Contextual note: This proverb means that wise people know how to get profit from things that a man thinks useless.
    • English equivalent: A wise man gets learning from those who have none themselves.

585. Mũtũũri mũno ndagaga

    • Literal translation: He who lives a long time (in one place) must find what he wants.

586. Mũtumia angĩkũra atarĩ mwana ndangĩona mũtahĩri maaĩ

    • Literal translation: The woman that gets old without bearing a child, will have nobody to draw water for her, i.e. will have nobody to help her.
    • English equivalent: Children are poor men's riches.

587. Mũtumia na kionje nĩ ũndũ ũmwe.

    • Literal translation: A woman and an invalid man are the same thing.
    • English equivalent: Words for women, actions for men.

588. Mũtumia ndatũraga mũtwe na ndaikagia ndahi ndua.

    • Literal translation: A woman does not split the head (of the slaughtered goat) nor dip the cup into the beer (because both are men's jobs).
    • English equivalent: Let women spin and not preach.

589. Mũturi tiwe mũhurutĩri

    • Literal translation: He that hands the hammer is not the same as the man who pulls the belows.
    • English equivalent: You cannot drink and whistle at the same time.

590. Mũtumumu ndonagia ũrĩa ũngĩ njĩra

    • Literal translation: A blind man does not show another the way.
    • English equivalent: Blind does not lead blind.

591. Mũtwari ndarĩ ũhoro

    • Literal translation: He who carries an embassy has no concern in it.
    • English equivalent: Messengers should neither be deheaded nor hanged.

592. Mũtwe ũmwe ndwatũraga ng'ũndũ

    • Literal translation: Only one head does not divide a field.
    • English equivalent: Four eyes see more than two.

593. Mũtwe wa mũndũ ũmwe nĩ ithino

    • Literal translation: One man's head is a solitary place.
    • English equivalent: Counsel is not of one.

594. Mugi ndoĩ ũrĩa akerwo

    • Literal translation: He who speaks does not know what others will reply.

595. Mumagari onaga ũnene

    • Literal translation: He who travels sees great things.
    • English equivalent: The world is a great book, of which they who never stir from home read only one page.

596. Muni kĩrĩti nĩwe ũĩ ũrĩa thĩna ũigana wa mĩgogo na nyamũ

    • Literal translation: It is the forest clearer who knows the troubles caused by trunks and animals.
    • English equivalent: Every man knows his own business best.

597. Mumi na nja oyaga mara kana anyuaga twĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: He that enters a hut either picks up the bowels or drinks twice.
    • Contextual note: To understand the proverb one must remember that the Kikuyu huts receive the only scanty light from the low front door. So people who enter a hut where a banquet is being held may either be unlucky and take hold of a piece of bowel instead of a piece of good meat, or may be lucky and be given a couple of drinks.

598. Mwaga gũkua mwaruta mbaara

    • Literal translation: It is they who have not died in war that start it.

599. Mwagi maguta oigaga hunyũ nĩ ũmwe na maguta

    • Literal translation: He that lacks fat says ugliness is the same as beauty.

600. Mwagi maguta oigaga atĩ kĩng'arũ nĩ ũndũ ũmwe na maguta

    • Literal translation: He who has no fat (to smear himself with) says that ochre is as good.
    • Contextual note: In both these proverbs 'fat' means 'beauty'.
    • English equivalent: 'Sour grapes,' as the fox said, when he could not reach them.

601. Mwaki ndũhoragio na mwaki

    • Literal translation: Fire is not extinguished by fire.
    • English equivalent: Fire is not to be quenched with tow.

602. Mwambi nacio tiwe mũrigia nacio

    • Literal translation: He that begins, is not he that finishes.
    • English equivalent: Judge not of men or things at first sight.

603. mwamũkĩri ndairaga ngoro

    • Literal translation: He who receives does not loathe.
    • English equivalent: A gift horse is not looked in the mouth.

604. Mwana mũkũrũ na ithe nĩ hamwe

    • Literal translation: The eldest son and the father are one thing.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that after the father's death the eldest son rules.

605. Mwana mwega no nda

    • Literal translation: Only the belly is a good (lucky) child (for its owner takes care of it and never lets it empty).
    • English equivalent: The belly is the commanding part of the body.

606. Mwana mwende ndoĩ kũinia thũmbĩ

    • Literal translation: The son most loved (by his parents) does not know how to shake his feather head-dress.
    • Contextual note: The proverb alludes to the initiation rite, on which occasion a special head-dress composed of ostrich feathers is worn by the candidates. It means that often the young man for whom the parents have bought a costly head-dress so that he may look well, does not show any gratitude by wearing it proudly.
    • English equivalent: Things got easily are not appreciated.

607. Mwana ndaheanagwo

    • Literal translation: The child is not given away without a price.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is used especially by a father to the young man wanting to marry his daughter. It must be bourne in mind that the Kikuyu girl is not given to her husband, but she is bought by him.
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

608. Mwana ndahũragwo ithe arĩ ho

    • Literal translation: The son is not beaten when the father is near.

609. Mwana ndetagia ithe nyama

    • Literal translation: The son need not ask his father for a piece of meat (for a parent spontaneously gives his children the best food).

610. Mwana ũrĩ kĩo ndagaga mũthambia

    • Literal translation: A child who likes work does not lack one to wash him, i.e. to take care of him.
    • English equivalent: God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.

611. Mwana ũrĩ mũreri ndatangaga mai

    • Literal translation: The baby that has some one to take care for it does not dirty itself.
    • English equivalent: Young and old age complete each other.

612. Mwana wa ndigwa nĩwe ũĩ kwĩrera

    • Literal translation: An orphan knows how to make shift with it (for he has nobody to help him).

613. Mwana wa ngarĩ akunyaga ta nyina

    • Literal translation: The baby leopard scratches like its mother.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.

614. Mwana wa ngoriai ndekagĩra njingiri kũgũrũ

    • Literal translation: The orphan boy wears no rattles on his feet.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu used to wear rattles on their feet when dancing.

615. Mwana wa rwendo arĩaga nyina na ithe

    • Literal translation: The son of love eats his father and mother.
    • Contextual note: The proverb has the obvious meaning that the son who realizes he is his parent's Benjamin gives them most trouble. But it also means that the child born of illegitimate love will soon become a nuisance to his parents.
    • English equivalent: To nourish a viper in one's bosom.

616. Mwana wa thahu ndatigaga kĩrĩro

    • Literal translation: The son of sin does not cease weeping.
    • English equivalent: Sin and debts are always more than we think them to be.

617. Mwana wĩ na ithe ndanyuaga muma

    • Literal translation: The son whose father is still alive, takes no oath (for his father defends him and if necessary, takes the oath instead of the son).

618. Mwanake nĩ kĩenyũ kĩa Ngai

    • Literal translation: The youth is a part of the Divinity.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the fact that the circumcised Kikuyu youth is greatly respected by women and uncircumcised young men.

619. Mwanake wĩ na indo ndoihanaga

    • Literal translation: The youth who has enough to buy his girl, need not beseech her.
    • English equivalent: Money is the sinew of love as well of war.

620. Mwanĩki ambe eanĩke

    • Literal translation: He who airs something must air himself first.
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

621. Mwarĩ mwega ahĩtũkĩra thome wa ngĩa

    • Literal translation: A fair girl does not stop at a poor youth's (for he could not buy her).

622. Mwarĩ mwerũ ndaragũragĩrwo

    • Literal translation: One does not consult the witch-doctor about a white daughter.
    • Contextual note: It is luck for Kikuyu parents to have a daughter with skin whiter than the average. Such a girl will be sold dearer to her husband.

623. Mwaria ciene arigagwo nĩ ciake

    • Literal translation: He who talks about others' affairs does not know his own.

624. Mwatũ ndĩtagĩrwo mwana

    • Literal translation: A boy is not sent to collect the honey (for he does not know how to collect it).
    • English equivalent: Every man does his own business best.

625. Mwatũkĩria kĩ? Aca no thũmbĩ na rũhuho

    • Literal translation: What have you that we have not? Nothing but 'thũmbĩ' and wind.
    • Contextual note: 'Thũmbĩ' is the piece of cloth or leather used to fasten ostrich and other birds' feathers around the head. The proverb means, 'There is no news'.

626. Mwathwo nĩ nda arũgĩte mwatho nĩ ithe

    • Literal translation: Being ruled by one's stomach is better than being ruled by one's father.

627. Mwega nĩ ongagwo

    • Literal translation: Good people are sucked.
    • English equivalent: Cover yourself with honey and the flies will attack you.

628. Mwendi gatungu nĩ mwenjeri

    • Literal translation: He that wants to become rich must till the earth.
    • English equivalent: Sleeping foxes catch no poultry.

629. Mwendi irura nĩ mũcini

    • Literal translation: He who wants papyrus-ashes burns papyrus.
    • Contextual note: Previous to the advent of Europeans, the Kikuyu used papyrus-ashes, which are supposed to be rich in sodium, for cooking purposes.
    • English equivalent: Let him that is cold blow coal.

630. Mwendi mũhĩrĩga ũtuĩkane etagia rũrĩmĩ na mbere ndarũrĩaga

    • Literal translation: He who wants to cause disagreement within the clan asks for the tongue (of the slaughtered goat) which he was not wont to eat before.
    • Contextual note: The tongue of the goat is a choice morsel which belongs by right to the head of the family or clan. The proverb means that he who wants a pretext for quarrelling, asks for somethingwhich he cannot be given.

631. Mwendi ũru nĩ awonaga

    • Literal translation: He who seeks evil finds it.

632. Mwendi ũthaka ndacayaga

    • Literal translation: He who wants beauty does not complain (if it costs him some pain).
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

633. Mwendia nĩ agũraga

    • Literal translation: He who sells buys.
    • English equivalent: To buy and to sell are both business.

634. Mwendwo ndarĩ ngarari

    • Literal translation: He who is loved receives no refusal.

635. Mwenjani mĩkuri ndoĩ ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: The barber who shaves badly does not know any other (better) way of shaving.
    • English equivalent: The first degree of folly is to think himself wise, the second is to tell others so, the third is to despise all counsel.

636. Mwere mwega ũmenyagwo na ngetho

    • Literal translation: The good millet is known at harvest time.
    • English equivalent: A tree is known by its fruit.

637. Mwetereri arĩaga ya mũgwato

    • Literal translation: He who waits gets the best food, i.e. the biggest potato, the sweetest maize, etc. and can eat better cooked food.

638. Mwĩcarĩria ndarĩ karo gatuhu

    • Literal translation: He who wants to dig out a potato does not use a blunt pole.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he who wants to accomplish something, uses just those means that ensure success.

639. Mwĩgerekanio wateire kĩũra matina

    • Literal translation: The frog that compared itself to the ox lost its buttocks.
    • Contextual note: There is a fable, that the frog seeing what big buttocks the ox had, thought it could grow as big by swelling. But it burst and so lost buttocks and life.
    • English equivalent: All covet, all lose.

640. Mwĩgerero wa ngoro ndũkinyaga no wa Ngai ũkinyaga

    • Literal translation: What a man wants does not reach the goal, only what God wants reaches it.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

641. Mwĩgito ti guoya

    • Literal translation: Self defence is not fear.
    • English equivalent: Weapons bode peace.

642. Mwĩiganio ti wa mweri

    • Literal translation: To obtain what one wants is not a month's job.
    • English equivalent: Time and straw make medlars ripe.

643. Mwĩikaria ndarĩ haro

    • Literal translation: He who lives alone has no quarrel.
    • English equivalent: It takes two to make a quarrel.

644. Mwĩikaria ndarĩ rũruto

    • Literal translation: He who looks after his own business has no trouble.

645. Mwĩnyamaria ndarĩ ikwa nyũmũ

    • Literal translation: He who has no patience will have no hard yams.
    • Contextual note: Yams are fully ripe only when they have grown hard. So he who wants to eat a good yam must be patient and wait till it is hard.
    • English equivalent: Everything is good in its season.

647. Mwĩrĩ ti icoya atĩ nĩ ũgũtembũka

    • Literal translation: One's body is not a banana leaf which should be rent.
    • English equivalent: The proverb is told to people who threaten to abuse or have abused others.

648. Mwĩrĩhĩria nĩwe mũru

    • Literal translation: He who revenges himself is bad.
    • English equivalent: In taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over he is superior.

649. Mwĩtaari ndarĩ ũthũ

    • Literal translation: He who takes counsel only from himself meets no hatred.

650. Mwĩthĩnia ndathĩnũkaga, no mũthĩnio nĩ athũnũkaga

    • Literal translation: He who is the cause of his own troubles never comes to the end of them; but he who is troubled by others does.

651. Mwoni ũmũthĩ tiwe mwoni rũciũ

    • Literal translation: He who sees today does not see tomorrow.
    • English equivalent: Today thee, tomorrow me.

N

652. Narua, mũgogo ũtanatendera

    • Literal translation: Haste, before the trunk bridge becomes slippery.
    • Contextual note: It must be borne in mind that native bridges consist of only one trunk spanning the two banks of the river. Hence passing such bridges in wet weather is dangerous.

653. Nda ĩmwe yumaga muici na mũrogi

    • Literal translation: The same womb gives birth to a thief and a poisoner.

654. Nda ĩrũgĩte ita

    • Literal translation: The belly is more important than war.

655. Nda ti mũtwe.

    • Literal translation: The belly is not a head.
    • Contextual note: Into the head you can put as many things as you know without filling it, but you cannot do the same with your belly.

656. Ndakũrama kĩnganga nawe wanama kĩngware?

    • Literal translation: I gave you the beauty of a guinea fowl and you give me the beauty of a francolin.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the following fable. Once upon a time the guinea fowl wanting to dance, called upon the francolin to have its feathers dressed. The francolin, hoping to have the same favour returned by the guinea fowl, assented. But the latter taking as an excuse of its laziness that the dance was about to begin, left the other bird in the lurch. This is why the guinea fowl has now got much finer plumage than the francolin.
    • English equivalent: To do good to the ungrateful is to throw rose-water into the sea.

657. Ndaregirwo nĩ ikere ta njagathi ĩkĩregwo nĩ guoya

    • Literal translation: I have no calves as lizards have got no hair.
    • Contextual note: Well shaped calves are supposed by the Kikuyu to add a great deal to one's beauty: therefore they are much appreciated.
    • English equivalent: As poor as a church mouse.

659. Ndaya ĩkinyia

    • Literal translation: The long road arrives (at the goal).
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a long but sure way, is better than a short but dangerous one.
    • English equivalent: Fair and softly goes far in a day.

660. Ndegwa nyinyi ĩhaicaga ng'ombe na mũtwe

    • Literal translation: The young bull mounts the cows from the head.
    • English equivalent: Young is the goose that will not eat oats.

661. Ndeto itimataga ta iria

    • Literal translation: Sentences do not curdle like milk.
    • English equivalent: Words and feathers are tossed by the wind.

662. Ndeto njega nĩ iria njĩrane

    • Literal translation: Good words are those spoken of common accord.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means both:
    • English equivalent: 'Friendship is friendship and business is business' and 'A word is enough to the wise'.

663. Ndĩa kahora ĩgĩaga gũkameria

    • Literal translation: The animal that eats slowly can swalllow well.
    • English equivalent: He that goes softly, goes safely.

664. Ndĩakagwo ta ya wakinĩ

    • Literal translation: Nobody is forced to build his hut on the pattern of his 'wakinĩ'.
    • Contextual note: 'Wakinĩ' is a person circumcised at the same time--somebody of the same age-group.
    • English equivalent: Every one to his own taste.

665. Ndĩani ndĩkinyaga iraka

    • Literal translation: The thief does not tread on dry leaves (for they would betray his presence).

666. Ndĩambaga na magua

    • Literal translation: The bee does not begin with the comb.
    • English equivalent: A good beginning makes a good ending.

667. Ndĩgũre: Konyũ kegũra nĩ komirie ikwa

    • Literal translation: Humble yourself: the inhabitants of Konyu were able to grow yams after humbling themselves.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the legend that the people of Konyu, a place in the Kikuyu country, who had been at war with their neighbours of Mathira, ceased to be raided and could till their fields in peace, only by submitting.
    • English equivalent: He makes a good war that makes good peace.

668. Ndĩkũraga na mĩgiria

    • Literal translation: The ox does not become old with strong muscles.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that man cannot expect to age and retain the vigour of his youth.

669. Ndĩrĩ ndĩiyũragĩra kũrĩa ĩkũgaragario

    • Literal translation: The mortar is not filled with juice in the place where it is rolled.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that anything is found useful only in that place and by those people who are in need of it.
    • English equivalent: Everything is good in its own season.

670. Ndĩrĩ njega ndĩringanaga na mũthĩ mwega

    • Literal translation: A good mortar never meets a good pestle.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a good wife rarely meets a good husband and vice versa.

671. Ndia ngiri yanina andũ

    • Literal translation: Still water has finished many men.
    • English equivalent: Beware of a silent dog and silent water.

672. Ndikwenda wĩngwatĩrĩre ta kĩeha

    • Literal translation: I do not want you to stick on to me like beard moss (sticks on the tree).
    • English equivalent: Live and let live.

673. Ndithũire mũnyoni ta mũnyanĩrĩri

    • Literal translation: I do not hate him who sees me so much as him who reveals me, i.e. my faults.
    • English equivalent: Nobody is willing to acknowledge he is in fault.

674. Nditikũ na magũmĩ, o kũrĩa mũgaitanĩrĩra

    • Literal translation: Nditikũ and Magũmĩ (go) to the place where you can agree.
    • Contextual note: Nditikũ and Magũmĩ are metaphorical names used to mean two quarrelsome people. The proverb is told to disagreeable people, who though warned do not stop their strife.
    • English equivalent: He that cuts himself willingly deserves no balsam.

675. Ndiunĩkaga thondu

    • Literal translation: It is not the meagre (but the fat) ox that breaks its leg.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes seldom come alone.

676. Ndonga nanu ĩrũgĩtwo nĩ mũkarĩ

    • Literal translation: A rich evil-doer is worse than a miser

677. Ndonga imwe ndĩhingaga iriũko

    • Literal translation: One rich man cannto close the ford; i.e. cannot do all he would.
    • English equivalent: No living man all things can.

678. Ndũgate kũgũrũ ta nyakĩnyua

    • Literal translation: Do not give your foot the position which 'Nyakĩnua' gives.
    • Contextual note: 'Nyakĩnyua' is used to mean old women, who often sit unbecomingly.

679. Ndũgĩra na kaigwa kayo

    • Literal translation: Every little hole of the ear has its little thorn.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu used to put little sticks or thorns in the pierced upper part of the ear.
    • English equivalent: Every sparrow to its ear of wheat.

680. Ndũgetange ta kĩhĩa kĩa mũcaĩ

    • Literal translation: Do not torment yourself as you torment the seeds of the broom-tree (which you scatter everywhere without any regard).

681. Ndũgũ ĩrutagwo njĩra

    • Literal translation: Friendship begins with meeting at the road.

682. Ndũgũ nĩ makinya

    • Literal translation: Friendship is steps, i.e. it consists in going to see one another.
    • English equivalent: Friendship consists in visiting friends.

683. Ndũgũ nyingĩ ithatagia mũhuko

    • Literal translation: Many friends make one's pocket empty.
    • English equivalent: Friends are pick-pockets.

684. Ndũgũ ya mwana ĩmatagio nĩ nyina

    • Literal translation: The friendship of the son is strengthened by his mother.
    • English equivalent: Children's joys are parents' toys.

685. Ndũire nyiki ta mũrogi

    • Literal translation: I live alone like a poisoner.
    • Contextual note: The proverb illustrates the Kikuyu's dislike for poisoners and wizards.

686. Ndũirio nĩ mata ta thua

    • Literal translation: I live on saliva like a flea.
    • English equivalent: To live from hand to mouth.

687. Ndũkagerekanie gĩkuũ na toro

    • Literal translation: Do not compare death with sleep (because they are not the same).

688. Ndũkamenyithie wa itara

    • Literal translation: Do not make home affairs known.
    • English equivalent: Do not wash dirty linen in public.

689. Ndũkanine ndũma mbira

    • Literal translation: Do not finish the small 'ndũma'.
    • Contextual note: 'Ndũma are the tubers of an edible arum much cultivated in Kikuyu. The proverb means that one must dig out only the big tubers and leave the small ones to grow new plants.
    • English equivalent: Enjoy the present but think also of the future.

690. Ndũkanũmĩrĩre ta njũũ na ngigĩ

    • Literal translation: Do not follow me as the 'njũũ' follows the locusts.
    • Contextual note: 'Njũũ' is the name of a kind of passerine bird, which follows locusts to feed on them.
    • English equivalent: God deliver you from a false friend.

691. Ndũra ĩciaraga mĩigwa

    • Literal translation: The 'ndũra' gives forth nothing but thorns.
    • Contextual note: 'Ndũra' is the name of a thorny tree. The proverb means:
    • English equivalent: One cannot gather figs from thistles.

692. Nduma ndĩhĩtithagia mũthiĩ mbere

    • Literal translation: Darkness shows no wrong path to him who gets what he wants before dark.
    • English equivalent: Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

693. Ndumumu ndĩonagi ĩngĩ njĩra

    • Literal translation: A blind man does not show another blind man the way.
    • English equivalent: Do the blind lead the blind? Do they not both fall into the ditch?

694.Ndundu ya mwana na nyina ndĩringagĩrĩrio

    • Literal translation: It is not fair to attempt to penetrate mother and son's secrets.

695. Ndurumo igĩrĩ itiguanaga ikĩgamba

    • Literal translation: Two noisy waterfalls cannot agree (in their tune).
    • English equivalent: Two of a trade seldom agree.

696. Ndutura ĩrumaga ĩrorete gĩtara kĩayo

    • Literal translation: The turtle-dove coos when it has seen its nest
    • English equivalent: Every bird likes its own nest best.

697. Nĩ hiti mũgambĩre

    • Literal translation: It is the hyena that howls.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is applied to boisterous people.
    • English equivalent: Barking dogs seldom bite.

698. Nĩ itumaga na itirue

    • Literal translation: One can sing the song which precedes the circumcission and not be circumcissed.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

699. Nĩ mũiguanĩte ta gĩkwa na mũkũngũgũ

    • Literal translation: You agree like the yam and the tree to which it clings.
    • English equivalent: to be like David and Jonathan

700. Nĩ gũkaga mũkĩra mwĩte

    • Literal translation: Somebody may come in higher in dignity than he who was firstly invited.
    • Contextual note: The proverb has almost the same meaning as the words of the Gospel: When thou art invited to a wedding sit not down in the first seats at the table, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him'; etc.
    • English equivalent: Humility often gains more than pride.

701. Nĩ ngingo ĩtindaga ĩrĩ theri ti nda

    • Literal translation: It is the neck that stays without ornament, but not the belly (without food).

702. Ngaita itirĩagĩrwo kwenda

    • Literal translation: The 'ngaita' is not eaten unless there is a reason.
    • Contextual note: 'Ngaita' is the very bitter fruit of a shrub, which is taken as an antihelmintic.
    • English equivalent: Medicines are not meat to live on.

703. Ng'aragu ya mũndũ ũngĩ ndĩngĩgiria ngome

    • Literal translation: Other people's hunger does not hinder me from sleeping.

704. Ngarari nĩ gĩthũria kĩa mbaara

    • Literal translation: Arguments are the source of strifes.
    • English equivalent: It takes two to make a quarrel.

705. Ngarari nĩ kamena

    • Literal translation: Discord breeds scorn.

706. Ngarĩ ndĩoĩ gũkunya nĩ kuonio yonirio

    • Literal translation: The leopard did not know how to seize its prey: it was taught.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu say that when the leopard began to kill goats, it did not know how to seize them to kill. One day frightened by the shepherd, it had to leave its prey badly wounded though not killed. From the tree where it had taken refuge it heard the shepherd say: "What luck! Had my goat been seized by the neck, it would be already dead'.

707. Ngatho ĩthingatagio ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: One kindness prepares for another.
    • English equivalent: One good turn deserves another.

708. Ngatia ciathiĩ hiti cĩeragara

    • Literal translation: When lions have gone, hyenas dance.
    • English equivalent: When the cat is away, the mice will play.

709. Ngemi ciumaga ndĩrĩ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: The woman's trills are shouted at the mortar.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the songs and shouts of the women crushing the sugar cane to be brewed; and means that such songs are sung only on that occasion.
    • English equivalent: Everything has its time.

710. Ng'enda thĩ ndĩagaga mũtegi

    • Literal translation: The animal that treads on the earth may find its trapper.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means:
    • English equivalent: 'To err is human'.

711. Ngĩa na mũigwa itikomaga

    • Literal translation: The poor and the thorn do not sleep.
    • Contextual note: The former, say the Kikuyu, is kept awake by his anxieties whilst the latter is always on the alert in order to sting anyone who happens to touch it.
    • English equivalent: Poverty breeds strife.

712. Ngĩa yethagwo mũkuha wayo

    • Literal translation: The poor man is robbed even of his awl.
    • English equivalent: The poor man turns his cake, and another comes and takes it away.

713. Ngi ĩmwe yoragia mũgũgũta

    • Literal translation: One fly spoils an ox-hide.
    • English equivalent: A little leak will sink a great ship.

714. Ngi ndĩrĩ rũga

    • Literal translation: The fly has no sinew.
    • English equivalent: You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

715. Ngi ĩrahtagwo ũigana mũkiha ũrĩa ĩrĩ naguo.

    • Literal translation: The fly is bled proportionately to its veins.
    • English equivalent: If you squeeze a cork, you will get but little juice.

716. Ngingo ndĩkĩraga mũtwe

    • Literal translation: The neck does not grow above the head.
    • English equivalent: Everything to its place.

717. Ngingo ya mũrĩa-ng'ũrũ nĩ gĩthitũ na rũrigi

    • Literal translation: The neck of him who sells too dear, is all amulets and necklaces (for nobody buys from him).
    • English equivalent: All covet, all lose.

718. Ng'ombe itionagwo nĩ ithayo

    • Literal translation: Oxen are not found through laziness.
    • English equivalent: Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes it.

719. Ng'ombe yahithio njau ĩkamagĩrwo ikaya

    • Literal translation: When the cow is left to the care of a man who is not the owner, the calves are suckled only when they cry.
    • English equivalent: Look to the cow, the sow, and the wheat mow, and all will be well now.

720. Ngoro ĩrĩaga kĩrĩa ĩkwenda

    • Literal translation: The heart eats what it likes.
    • English equivalent: Love is blind.

721. Ngoro nĩ mũrũ wa nyina na mũndũ

    • Literal translation: Every man's brother is his heart.
    • English equivalent: Few hearts that are not double, few tongues that are not cloves.

722. Ngoro nĩ mũtitũ mũtumanu na ndũngĩtonyeka nĩ mũndũ

    • Literal translation: The heart is a thick forest which cannot be penetrated by anybody.
    • English equivalent: What is in one's heart man's eyes see not.

723. Ngoro ndĩrumaga tũhũ

    • Literal translation: The heart does not curse for nothing.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that one does not repine nor swear at another without a reason.
    • English equivalent: Everything has its reason.

724. Ngoro itiumanĩire ta njĩra

    • Literal translation: Hearts do not meet (converge) like roads.
    • English equivalent: Eat a peck of salt with a man before you trust him.

725. Ngũgũtũ ya gwĩthurĩra ndĩrĩ gacere

    • Literal translation: The beads one has chosen have no imperfection.
    • English equivalent: Every man thinks his own geese swans.

726. Ngũkũ ya maguta nĩ ĩikagĩrio

    • Literal translation: (Even) drinking liquid fat comes to an end.
    • Contextual note: Liquid fat of animals is esteemed a dainty by the Kikuyu.
    • English equivalent: All good things come to an end.

727. Ngũngũni ĩreragĩra rũkũ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: The bedbug prospers on a piece of wood.
    • English equivalent: There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.

728. Ngũri ndĩgayagwo

    • Literal translation: The beard pincers are not inherited.
    • Contextual note: It must be remembered that the Kikuyu did not shave but pull the beard with pincers forged by native black-smiths. The proverb means that there are some things which are so personal that the father does not bequeath them to his son: he has to get his own.

729. Ngumo ndĩigana mwene

    • Literal translation: The fame is never up to its owner's merit.
    • English equivalent: He that does good for praise only, meriteth but a puff of wind.

730. Nguo njega ndĩikagio rũtamĩ

    • Literal translation: To good clothes no ornaments is added.
    • English equivalent: Good coral needs no colouring.

731. Ngwa mbere ti noru ta ngwa thutha

    • Literal translation: The first fall is not as bad as the second fall.
    • English equivalent: Every man's tale is good till another's is told.

732. Ngwacĩ itigathagwo rĩenjero

    • Literal translation: Potatoes are not praised when they are dug out (but when they are eaten).
    • English equivalent: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

733. Ngware ĩkĩrara mũtĩ igũrũ ndĩatigire thĩ kũrĩ kwega

    • Literal translation: The francolin sleeps on a tree because it is not all right on the ground (and on a tree it feels safer).
    • English equivalent: Everyone knows his business best.

734. Ngware ndĩũragagĩrwo nja

    • Literal translation: The francolin is not killed in the courtyard.
    • Contextual note: According to Kikuyu superstition to kill a francolin found on one's courtyard brings in misfortune. If anybody has done it, he must slaughter a goat to propitiate the spirits.
    • English equivalent: There is a measure in all things.

735. Ngware nyinyi ĩrĩ na mũhurĩrie wayo

    • Literal translation: The little francolin has its way of scratching.
    • English equivalent: Every man his way.

736. Njamba ĩgũaga na ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: A hero dies with the other.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the days of war before the advent of Europeans, when warriors went together to plunder and were bound to win or die together.

737. Njamba imwe ndĩhingaga iriũko

    • Literal translation: One strong man only cannot close the ford of a river.
    • English equivalent: No living man all things can.

738. Njamba ndĩrĩagwo nĩ wĩra

    • Literal translation: A strong man is not overpowered by his task.
    • English equivalent: He that endures is not overcome.

739. Njamba ndĩrumaga imera igĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: A powerful man does not domineer two seasons.
    • English equivalent: Nothing that is violent is permanent.

740. Njamba nĩ ithaga rĩa rika

    • Literal translation: A strong man is the ornament of his age-group.

741. Njamba ti ikere

    • Literal translation: Strength does not dwell in the calves of the legs.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that one's strength does not dwell in one's appearance, but rather in mind and virtue.

742. Njaũ ĩrĩ ndoge nyina nĩ ndoge.

    • Literal translation: If the calf has been poisoned, also its mother has been (for they ordinarily eat the same food).
    • English equivalent: Like father like son.

743. Njeterera ndĩkinyaga

    • Literal translation: He who waits does not arrive.
    • English equivalent: Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

744. 'Njĩka na njĩka ndĩrĩ' marũrũ

    • Literal translation: 'Do to me and do to me' have no bitterness.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a person cannot complain on receiving from others the same kind of treatment as he had given to them.

745. Njĩra ndĩrag mũgendi hurũka

    • Literal translation: The road never says to the traveller, 'Take a rest'.

746. Njĩra nguhĩ no ya ũrĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: A short way is only the way to bed.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is told when one wants to cut short a discussion, or when one wants a whole night to reflect before making up one's mind.
    • English equivalent: Consult with your pillow.

747. Njogu ndĩremagwo nĩ mĩguongo yayo

    • Literal translation: The elephant is not overpowered by its tusks.

748. Njohi nĩ gacuhũra

    • Literal translation: The beer is a thing that unties (the tongue).
    • English equivalent: When the wine is in the wit is out.

749. Njoya na mũthece ndĩoyagĩra ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: A bird that picks food with the beak does not collect food for another bird.

750. Njũkĩ ndĩrĩ mboora igĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: The bee has not got two stings.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is told to greedy people, who when given something are not satisfied and want more.
    • English equivalent: Much wants more.

751. Njũgũma ya njamba ĩthukagĩrio ũgeni-inĩ

    • Literal translation: A strong man's club is tested by foreigners.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that it is foreigners who actually test the strength of a man, for they dare measure themselves with him. Whilst the people who live with him, judging his strength as a thing beyond any doubt, are afraid of testing it.
    • English equivalent: The proof of a pudding is in the eating.

752. Njukũ irũgĩte rũũĩ rũiyũru

    • Literal translation: Slander is worse than a river in flood.
    • English equivalent: The most dangerous of wild beasts is a slanderer, of tame ones a flatterer

753. Njukũ nĩ mĩgathĩ ya itonga

    • Literal translation: Calumnies are (as plentiful as) rich people's beads.

754. Nyamũ ngũrũ ndĩhatagwo maaĩ

    • Literal translation: An old ox is not refused water.
    • English equivalent: Old age is honourable.

755. Nyama njũru ĩroragwo na kanua

    • Literal translation: Bad meat is tasted with the mouth.
    • English equivalent: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

756. Nyamacũcũ, kanua nĩ koinagĩrwo ithĩgĩ

    • Literal translation: Woman, remember that the mouth is sometimes covered with a branch.
    • English equivalent: A woman cannot keep a secret.

757. Nyanja ĩmwe ndĩtĩragia itega One gourd (of beer) does not stop the gift.

    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu used to send their relations and friends presents of native beer in gourds. The proverb means that the breaking of one gourd in transit does not prevent the delivery of the others.

758. Nyanja nguhĩ ndĩtegaga

    • Literal translation: A short gourd (of beer) is not give as a present.
    • English equivalent: A slight gift small thanks.

759. Nyeki ya nja ndĩrĩkaga

    • Literal translation: The grass of the courtyard is not eaten.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that oxen do not eat the grass growing near their pen, for they know it has been fertilized by their droppings. But the oxen which come from another pen and have no reason for loathing such good pasture feed on it with delight. The proverb is applied to the girls who ordinarily are not loved by young men of their village, to whom the girls of other places look handsomer.
    • English equivalent: Never a prophet was valued in his own country.

760. Nyitĩra na nginyĩrĩra ti ĩmwe

    • Literal translation: To possess and to send for is not the same.
    • English equivalent: There is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.

761. Nyoko ndĩtugaga

    • Literal translation: Beauty does no good.
    • English equivalent: Beauty may have fair leaves, yet bitter fruit.

762. Nyoneka narua yũraga narua

    • Literal translation: What is found quickly, is quickly lost.
    • English equivalent: Quick come, quick lost.

763. Nyoni kĩrimũ yakaga irigũ ikũrũ igũrũ ĩtoĩ rĩatemwo

    • Literal translation: The foolish bird nests on an old banana tree and does not know that it will be cut down.
    • English equivalent: A fool always comes short of his reckoning.

764. Nyoni yakaga nyũmba na mũthece ũmwe

    • Literal translation: The bird makes its nest only with one beak.
    • English equivalent: God never sends mouths but He sends meat.

765. Nyota wa gĩkuũ ndũnyotokagwo

    • Literal translation: Death's thirst is never quenched.
    • English equivalent: There is no medicine against death.

766. Nyũmba ĩkĩhĩa mwene nĩ otaga.

    • Literal translation: If the hut burns, its owner gets warm.

767. Nyũmba ĩrindagĩra magothe

    • Literal translation: The house covers many things.
    • English equivalent: There is not always good cheer where the chimney smokes.

768. Nyũmba na rika itiumagwo

    • Literal translation: The clan and 'rika' cannot be canceled.
    • Contextual note: People initiated in a particular season are banded together in an age group and are said to be of the same 'rika'. They are supposed to be obliged to help one another, like the members of the same clan.

769. Nyũmba ndĩgukumagio ikũmbĩ

    • Literal translation: A granary cannot be pushed into a hut.
    • English equivalent: Don't bite off more than you can chew.

770. Nyũmba nyinyi ĩciraga ũtukũ

    • Literal translation: The little house discusses its affairs by night (because they are not worth discussion by day with waste of time).

771. Nyũmba nyinyi yoragana yathama, yoragwo yathama

    • Literal translation: If a member of a small family is killed or kills another, the family moves (since it may be unable to defend itself).

772. Nyũngũ ĩrugaga na ndĩrĩe

    • Literal translation: The pot cooks the food and does not eat it.
    • English equivalent: Bees that make honey, do not taste it.

773. Nyũngũ ya gana ndĩmeraga

    • Literal translation: A rotten gourd seed does not germinate.
    • English equivalent: Immoral people seldom get offspring.

774. Nyũngũ ya maguta ndĩkuaga

    • Literal translation: The pot in which fat is stored does not break (for it is well fed).

775. Nyũngũ ya mũingĩ ndĩagaga mũteng'ũri

    • Literal translation: The cooking pot from which many people await their food, does not lack him who takes it from the fire.
    • Contextual note: In like way, the problem in which many people are interested, will have one able to solve it.

O

776. O mũndũ athondekaga ũrĩrĩ wake

    • Literal translation: Every man makes up his own bed.
    • English equivalent: Every bird must hatch its own eggs.

777. O mũndũ ahuragia mwaki na mwĩhĩrĩto wake

    • Literal translation: Every man scratches in his fire and in his 'mwĩhĩrĩto'.
    • Contextual note: 'Mwĩhĩrĩto' is the space between any two of the three stones of the Kikuyu hearth.
    • English equivalent: Everyone should sweep before his own door.

R

778. Rĩgu ndũtwaranagio

    • Literal translation: The food one takes as provision for one's journey is not carried by another person.
    • English equivalent: Take heed is a good read.

779. Rĩrĩ nda rĩkuaga ũnene

    • Literal translation: The foetus which is in the womb carries the future.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu use this proverb to mean that only God knows the future, just as only God causes a foetus to be a male or a female.

780. Rĩtwa nĩ mbokio

    • Literal translation: The name is a useless thing.
    • English equivalent: From our ancestors came names, but from our viirtues our honours.

781. Rĩu nĩ thatũ, no rĩu rĩngĩ nĩ mbura ya mahiga

    • Literal translation: Now we have the misty weather, but after a while it hails.
    • Contextual note: To become worse and worse.

782. Rigĩ rĩa nyũmba rĩtirutagwo rĩa gũtiria nyũmba ya ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: The door of one's hut is not taken to close another's hut.
    • English equivalent: He who has but one coat cannot lend it.

783. Rika na nyũmba itiũraga

    • Literal translation: One does not lose the age-grade nor the clan-right.
    • Contextual note: Kikuyu circumcissed in a particular season are banded together in an age group to which a name is given, after a special event of the season. This age-grade as well as the clan imply certain rights which no Kikuyu wants to give up.
    • English equivalent: No man is willing to waive his rights.

784. Riko na mwana na nda itiũĩ 'kwaga'

    • Literal translation: The hearth, the child and the belly ignore the word 'lack'.

785. Riko na mwana na nda itiganagia

    • Literal translation: The hearth, the child and the belly never have enough.

786. Ringĩra harĩa rũkũgambĩra

    • Literal translation: Cross the stream where it roars.
    • English equivalent: Still waters run deep.

787. Ritho rĩarĩra rĩarĩria iniũrũ

    • Literal translation: The watering eye makes the nose water.
    • English equivalent: When the head aches all the body is the worse.

788. Ritho rĩathigithwo rĩarĩra

    • Literal translation: The eye, which is disturbed, waters.
    • English equivalent: Let sleeping dogs lie.

789. Ritho rĩmenaga njamba

    • Literal translation: The eye scorns heroes; i.e. it can judge falsely of what it sees.
    • English equivalent: Never judge from appearances.

790. Ritho rĩũĩ thaka rĩtiũĩ ngamini

    • Literal translation: The eye discerns the beauty but not the kindness (of a person).

791. Ritho ti ndamĩ

    • Literal translation: The eye is not a piece of cloth (which can be thrown away).
    • English equivalent: The eye is the pearl of the face.

792. Ritho ti ndathio

    • Literal translation: The eye is not a thing which can be asked for.

793. Riũa rĩtietagĩrĩra mũthamaki

    • Literal translation: The sun does not wait for the judge.
    • English equivalent: The sun may do its duty though your grapes do not ripen.

794. Riũa rĩtiũĩ gĩtonga no ngĩa theri

    • Literal translation: For the sun there are no rich, but only poor people.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that in the dry season neither the rich nor the poor people can plant.
    • English equivalent: The sun shines on the just and the unjust.

795. Rũũa rũkuhĩ rũtirĩ thogora

    • Literal translation: A short hide is of no value.

796. Rũũa rwa mwenw rũtirĩ iringa

    • Literal translation: The owner of the goat does not give away its hide.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to the fact that the skin of a slaughtered goat belongs by right to the animal's owner, who does not allow anybody else to have it for nothing. Metaphorically it means that nobody gives his life but for a cause worthy of it.

797. Rũga runaga ũta

    • Literal translation: The string (too tightly strung) breaks the bow.
    • English equivalent: A bow long bent at last waxeth weak.

798. Rũgendo rwa njũa na rwa mbũri ititwaranaga

    • Literal translation: Hides and goats do not keep the same pace (when they are taken to the market).
    • Contextual note: In facts goats go onn foot while hides are carried by men who actually go more quickly.
    • English equivalent: Every man in his way.

799. Rũgũtema rũtiagaga igeca

    • Literal translation: The cutting knife does not lack bruises.
    • English equivalent: Touch pitch and you will be defiled.

800. Rũhiũ rũgĩ nĩrũtuĩkaga

    • Literal translation: A knife too well sharpened easily breaks.
    • English equivalent: To kill with kindness.

801. Rũhonge rwa mũtĩ rũtithendũkaga mũndũ

    • Literal translation: A tree branch cannot put forth a man.
    • English equivalent: Nothing comes out of the sack but what was in it.

802. Rũĩ rũnenehagio nĩ tũthima

    • Literal translation: The river is made bigger by small springs.
    • English equivalent: Little winnings make a heavy purse.

803. Rũĩ rũtithamaga mũkuru waruo

    • Literal translation: A river is not made to flow out of its bed.
    • English equivalent: Every sparrow to its ear of wheat.

804. Rũkaga rũtaraire rũgakĩra rũraire

    • Literal translation: An occurrence in the morning can be of more importance than one of the night before.
    • Contextual note: Problems should be dealt with in order of importance not in order of time.

805. Rũmĩra nguo harĩa hatarĩ ihoro

    • Literal translation: Take hold of your clothes where there is no hole (lest you would tear them even more).

806. Rũmwe rũranagwo rũkĩrĩa: rwagomania hĩa rũgacokanwo

    • Literal translation: The members of one clan can leave one another, but after all they return (to help one another).
    • Contextual note: Mutual assistance is one of the pacts by which members of one clan are bound.

807. Rũmwe rũtiũranagwo, no kũrĩkana rũrĩkanaga

    • Literal translation: The clan does not break, but its members can separate.

808. Rũrakora mũndũ rũtirĩ mũthemere

    • Literal translation: The fate, dear man, cannot be avoided.

809. Rũrĩ itara rũthekaga rũrĩ riko

    • Literal translation: The firewood which is in the pile laughs at the firewood which is already in the fire.
    • English equivalent: Today me, tomorrow thee.

810. Rũrĩ kuuma njora rũticokaga tũhũ

    • Literal translation: The knife which has been unsheathed does not return into its sheath without having done some work.

811. Rũrĩmĩ rwa ngĩa rũtithiraga kĩmanda

    • Literal translation: The poor man's tongue is always thin.
    • Contextual note: Since a poor man's tongue is supposed to utter only words of no importance, so it is said to be thin. The meaning of the proverb is that a poor man will never be listened to.
    • English equivalent: The poor man's wisdom is as useless as a palace in the wilderness.

812. Rũrĩ mũciĩ rũrĩ mũgũnda

    • Literal translation: If you have a pain at home, you have it in the field too.
    • English equivalent: No place is fenced against suffering.

813. Rũrĩ na Komũ rũrĩ na Kaigũ wa nyina

    • Literal translation: If Komũ has it, Kaigũ, his brother, has it too.
    • Contextual note: 'Komũ' and 'Kaigũ' are used in Kikuyu proverbs to denote brothers. The proverb means that if a man has something (either good or bad) his brother has a share in it too.

814. Rũrĩra rũtithambagio rũũĩ

    • Literal translation: Family-ties cannot be washed at the river, i.e. cannot be untied.

815. Rũrigi rũrĩ nja rũtiagaga gĩa kuoha

    • Literal translation: The string in the courtyard does not lack something to tie (in due time, although at present it may seem a useless thing).

816. Rũrigi rwetagĩrĩria mũndũ mũkwa

    • Literal translation: The string can be useful until a rope (of hide) can be got.
    • English equivalent: Little is better than nothing.

817. Rũtemaga mwenji

    • Literal translation: The knife cuts him who shaves another.
    • English equivalent: A knave is often caught in his own trap.

818. Rũthuko rũnungaga rũrĩ mbũthũ

    • Literal translation: The 'rũthuko' spreads its smell from its container.
    • Contextual note: 'Rũthuko' is a medicine given by a witch-doctor to a trapper to help him attract prey, or to a shepherd to call his sheep. It should be burnt and the smell of the smoke is supposed to be a call for animals. But natives believe the medicine to exercise its power even from its container. The proverb compares the smell of the medicine to the words of a man, which are supposed to be a reflection of his mind and means that one can judge him from his words.

819. Rũtungu rũmwe rũtiraragia mwaki

    • Literal translation: One piece of wood only does not keep the fire alight.
    • English equivalent: One stroke fells not an oak.

820. Rũtungu rwa gwĩtinĩria rũtirĩ gĩthong'ori

    • Literal translation: The log which I myself cut has no knot.
    • English equivalent: Every potter praises his own pot, and more if it be broken.

821. Rũtwaraga mũthambĩri

    • Literal translation: The stream drowns even the swimmer.

822. Rũu nĩ rũrigi rwa kũruta rũngĩ kĩnya

    • Literal translation: That is a thread for pulling another thread out of the 'kĩnya'.
    • Contextual note: 'Kĩnya' is a calabash used to draw water or to hold gruel. Here it is taken to mean the hidden place wherein one's secrets are kept. The proverb is told to people who ask indirect questions for discovering what they cannot learn directly.

823. Ruuo rũrĩaga mwene

    • Literal translation: The pain is felt by its owner (and not by another).

824. Ruuo rũtiguanagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Pain cannot be felt by one for the other.

825. Rutanĩria mũigua na maguta

    • Literal translation: Take out the pus with the thorn.
    • English equivalent: Do nothing by halves.

826. Rwambo rũmwe rũtiambaga ndarwa

    • Literal translation: One peg only does not stretch out a skin.
    • English equivalent: No living man all things can.

827. Rwendo nĩ ũnyamarania

    • Literal translation: Love means trouble.
    • English equivalent: Love is a sweet tyranny, because the lover endures his torments willingly.

828. Rwendo rũkĩrĩte ihaki

    • Literal translation: Love exceeds reward.
    • English equivalent: Love is not mean.

829. Rwendo rwarutire mwana wa nderi igũrũ

    • Literal translation: Love put the eaglet out of its nest.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu say that the young eagles, if left alone in the nest by their parents try to do as the parents do out of love for them and leap out of the nest; but in so doing they kill themselves.
    • English equivalent: Love is blind.

T

830. Tha cia arũme itirĩ iria

    • Literal translation: Males' pity has no milk.
    • Contextual note: It means that men are unable to stop the crying of a baby by suckling it. Metaphorically the proverb means that men feel no less pity than women although they show less.

831. Thaka ya mwene ndiunĩkaga

    • Literal translation: The owner's beauty does not break.
    • English equivalent: Every man thinks his own geese swans.

832. Thakame ndĩrĩ ndũgũ

    • Literal translation: Blood has need of no friendship.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that the best friendship is the one that comes from relationship; for, as it has been told before, all the members of a clan are tied by the bond of helping one another.
    • English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.

833. Thakame ĩhakagwo maguta na gatĩ

    • Literal translation: The 'thatũ' is smeared with fat and driven out.
    • Contextual note: 'Thatu' is the name of a big caterpillar which infests sweet potato plantations. To the Kikuyu it is a creature of bad omen; that is why, when it happens to enter their huts they do not kill it, but rather smear it with fat and take it out carefully to propitiate the spirit.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes that cannot be avoided, must be sweetened.

834. Thegere igĩrĩ itiremagwo nĩ mwatũ

    • Literal translation: Two 'thegere' are not overpowered by a beehive.
    • Contextual note: 'Thegere' is a small mammal, about the size of a pole-cat common in Kikuyu land. It is fond of honey. The proverb means that only one 'thegere' would be unable to pull a beehive down from a tree. But if two of them join together, they easily succeed in overturning and emptying it.
    • English equivalent: Union is strength.

835. Thekanĩrĩro nĩ hĩtaahĩtano

    • Literal translation: He who laughs at others will be laughed at.

836. Thĩ na igũrũ itimenyanaga

    • Literal translation: The earth and the sky do not know each other.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that nobody can foretell the weather.

837. Thĩga nĩ mũruu: marara nja gũtirĩ

    • Literal translation: 'Thĩga' is circumcissed: there is no reward in passing the night in the courtyard.
    • Contextual note: 'Thĩga' means a certain fellow. The proverb originates in one of the many customs relating to the Kikuyu ceremony of circumcission. On the eve of the circumcission day women and girls gather at the hut of the candidate and sing for a great part in the night; not gratuitously, but in the hope of getting food and beer from the candidates mother. But if when the rite is completed, she makes as an excuse that now the child is circumcissed and refuses to give them what they expect, they start singing the above strain, meaning: 'Have no recourse to the idle pretext that your son is now circumcissed; but rather give us the reward to which we are entitled after a night's singing and dancing'.
    • English equivalent: Eaten bread is soon forgotten.

838. Thĩna ndũrĩ mĩri

    • Literal translation: The 'thĩna' has no roots.
    • Contextual note: 'Thĩna' is the name of a kind of leafless plant growing on trees. It also means affliction, troubles, sadness, poverty.
    • English equivalent: Troubles pass.

839. Thĩna ndũtigaga handũ ũramenyera

    • Literal translation: Affliction does not leave a place which is already known to her.
    • English equivalent: One danger is seldom overcome without another.

840. Thĩna ndũtũũraga

    • Literal translation: Affliction does not last.
    • English equivalent: After a storm comes calm.

841. Thĩna nĩ rũhiũ rwa gũicũhia mũro

    • Literal translation: Affliction is a good knife to sharpen the 'mũro'.
    • Contextual note: 'Mũro' is a short stick used to beat the earth, to plant, to dig out potatoes, etc.
    • English equivalent: Necessity sharpens industry.

842. Thia ndĩthiragwo nĩ mĩhũmũ

    • Literal translation: The duiker cannot help panting.
    • English equivalent: The leopard cannot change his spots.

843. Thia ndĩthiragwo nĩ mũnithi

    • Literal translation: The duiker is not found without head stripes.
    • English equivalent: Man is what God has made him and nothing else.

844. Thiaka nĩ ũta

    • Literal translation: Quiver means bow (for there is no quiver but it has also its bow).

845. Thiaka ũiniĩ ndwagaga gũita mĩgwĩ

    • Literal translation: A quiver upside down cannot fail to pour out its arrows.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is an excuse for an error which depends only on human weakness.
    • English equivalent: To err is human.

846. Thiari ndĩrerega kwa ngĩa

    • Literal translation: The 'thiari' does not hover above a poor man's house.
    • Contextual note: 'Thiari' is the tick-bird. The proverb says that this bird does not stay with the poor for there are no oxen to provide ticks.
    • English equivalent: A poor man has no friends.

847. Thirĩ ũtarĩhagio no wa ũrogi

    • Literal translation: The debt of poisoning is a debt which cannot be paid.
    • Contextual note: All the other crimes can be paid for with a number of goats, but the crime of bewitching must be expiated by heavier punishment.

848. Thiriti nĩ ĩteanaga

    • Literal translation: Friendships dissolve.

849. Thiriti nĩ ya andũ erĩ, ya atatũ nĩ rũmena

    • Literal translation: Friendship can exist between two people, friendship of three people would mean strife.
    • English equivalent: Two's company, three is none.

850. Thiriti yagĩa kĩhehũ no ĩthire

    • Literal translation: Friendship finishes if there are whisperings.

851. Thogora nĩ mũrurumo ũtarũo

    • Literal translation: Buying (and selling) brings in much noise but no strife.

852. Thogora ndũrĩ nyina na mwana

    • Literal translation: Buying and selling has neither mother nor son.
    • English equivalent: Friendship is friendship and business is business

853. Thome wa anake ndũrĩ thogora no tharo

    • Literal translation: Young unmarried men do not buy in their 'thome': they steal things.
    • Contextual note: 'Thome' is the pathway leading up to the entrance of the Kikuyu homestead. It is made in the shape of a narrow passage which can be closed at night or in time of danger. The proverb means that nothing orderly can be done when only youngsters are present.

854. Thoni itirĩ gathuthuma

    • Literal translation: Shyness has no sucking.
    • Contextual note: It means that if a calf is shy it will be afraid to approach its mother and consequently will get no milk.

855. Thoni nene nĩ ũkarĩ

    • Literal translation: Too much shyness means miserliness.
    • English equivalent: There is measure in all things.

856. Thũ ndĩgũaga harĩa ĩikagio

    • Literal translation: The enemy does not fall where one throws him.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

857. Thũ ndĩagaga mwenji

    • Literal translation: An enemy does not lack someone to shave him; i.e. to keep him informed of what is going about him, and very often to give him help.

858. Thũmbĩ ĩrĩ nyone, mwene nĩ muone

    • Literal translation: If one sees the ostrich-feather head-dress, one sees also the owner of it.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu warriors used to pass over the head and under the chin a strap carrying ostrich feathers. Such a head-dress is used today only by young men at the circumcission ceremonies. The proverb means that if you see anyone wearing such an ornament, you easily recognize him as a warrior.

859. Thurania gũkua na kũhona

    • Literal translation: Choose between dying and living; i.e. between death and life, war and peace.

860. Thutha mwega nĩ wa ndũrũme

    • Literal translation: It is proper of the ram to have a good tail.
    • Contextual note: It means that the good side of many a thing is not found at the beginning of it, but at the end, just as the best part of the ram is not its head, but its fat tail.
    • English equivalent: The best fish swim near the bottom.

861. Thutha nĩ mwariĩ

    • Literal translation: The afterwards is wide.
    • Contextual note: The future holds many happenings.

862. Thutha wa arume nduoyagwo ruoya

    • Literal translation: Where men have passed there is not a single feather to pick up.

863. Thutha wa maũndũ mothe nĩ Mwathani

    • Literal translation: After all, there is God.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.

864. Tiga gũkunga hĩra-inĩ na tama mwerũ

    • Literal translation: If you wear white clothes do not hide ina place where the grass has been burnt (for you would easily be discovered).
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that it is useless to tell lies that are obviously lies.

865. Tiga gũkungia ũgĩ ũgĩ-inĩ

    • Literal translation: Do not show wisdom where there is wisdom.
    • English equivalent: To carry coals to newcastle.

866. Tiga thĩna: toboka: ndũcũnaga kĩihũri

    • Literal translation: Cease repining: go on; you are not like a child that licks the 'kĩihũri'.
    • Contextual note: 'Kĩihũri' is a half calabash used as a ladle or eating bowl. The proverb means that a man must not be timid like a child that is afraid of his mother's rebuke and dares not lay down the 'kĩihũri' used for gruel, if it is not licked.
    • English equivalent: Fortune helps them that help themselves.

867. Tiga kũhoya ngi thakame

    • Literal translation: Do not expect blood from a fly.
    • English equivalent: If you squeeze a cork, you will get but little juice.

868. Tiga kwaria na kanua ka ngoma

    • Literal translation: Stop talking with the mouth of the 'ngoma'.
    • Contextual note: 'Ngoma' are the spirits of the departed in which the Kikuyu firmly believe.
    • English equivalent: Keep the tongue within your teeth.

869. Tiga kuonia ngarĩ kũhaica mũtĩ

    • Literal translation: Stop teaching the leopard how to climb a tree.
    • English equivalent: Don't teach your grandmother how to knit.

870. Tũtikũhe hiti kerĩ

    • Literal translation: We do not give twice to the hyena.
    • English equivalent: Once bitten, twice shy.

871. Tũtũ ũrĩ mwana ndũnyitagia ngotho

    • Literal translation: The man who has a family does not adorn his family with finery.
    • English equivalent: Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts.

872. Turuma yakĩra kĩrugo

    • Literal translation: A sip is better than a feast.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a sip of beer given to him who happens to call on a friend during a beer drinking is more appreciated than a feast to which one has been invited (and has therefore waited for).

873. Tuoko tũingĩ tũthũranaga tũkĩrĩa

    • Literal translation: Many hands eating (from the same dish) hate one another
    • English equivalent: Two cats and a mouse, two wives in one house, two dogs and a bone never agree in one.

Ũ

874. Ũbataire ahũrithagia kĩhĩĩ ime

    • Literal translation: He who is in need sends his boy when there is still the dew.
    • English equivalent: Need makes the naked man trot.

875. Ũbataire ndaconokaga

    • Literal translation: The person who is in need does not feel ashamed.
    • English equivalent: Need makes the naked queen spin.

876. Ũbataire nĩwe ũhuraga ũrĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: It is the person who feels the need (of sleeping) that prepares the bed.
    • English equivalent: Let him that is cold blow the coal.

877. Ũcamba ndũringaga tũhuro twĩrĩ

    • Literal translation: (Even) bravery does not cross two valleys (at one time).
    • English equivalent: Samson was a strong man, yet he could not pay money before he had it.

878. Ũcokereru nĩ ũkĩgu

    • Literal translation: To return (to the same thing, argument, etc.) is foolishness.
    • English equivalent: A tale twice toldis cabbage twice sold.

879. Ũcukagwo na ndũgũteo

    • Literal translation: You are slandered without being thrown away.

880. Ũgakinya mũhũa gũtarĩ gatĩ

    • Literal translation: (The time will come when) you will step on the 'mũhũa' in a place where there is no other plant.
    • Contextual note: 'Mũhũa' is a common forest tree yielding a very poor timber. The proverb means that he who despises this tree because it is of little value and there is plenty of good timber, will go so far as to scorn it even when no better timber is available.
    • English equivalent: Half a loaf is better than no bread.

881. Ũgakinya na mũtwe wĩĩrĩte nĩ magũrũ

    • Literal translation: You will move on the head thinking it is the feet.
    • Contextual note: It is said to proud people who think they know everything.
    • English equivalent: Do as most men do and men will speak well of thee.

882. Ũgathĩna ta ritho gwakĩa

    • Literal translation: You shall have pains like the eye that opens in the morning
    • Contextual note: The proverb is a curse, and refers to the pain which one's eyes are supposed to feel when after a night's pleasant dreams, they open again to this world's miseries.

883. Ũgĩ mũnene ũtuaga ithanwa

    • Literal translation: Too great a wisdom breaks the axe.
    • English equivalent: Too much breaks the bag.

884. Ũgĩ ndũtongoragia ta ũrimũ

    • Literal translation: Wisdom does not go in front as foolishness; i.e. is not so easily attained as foolishness.
    • English equivalent: No man is born wise or learned.

885. Ũgĩ nĩ kĩhooto

    • Literal translation: Knowledge is power.

886. Ũgĩ ũgĩgũ

    • Literal translation: (There is) wisdom (that is) a bluff.
    • English equivalent: All is not gold that glitters.

887. Ũgĩ ũkĩrĩte hinya

    • English equivalent: Wisdom outweighs strength.

888. Ũgĩ wa arũme ũtemaga ta kahiũ

    • Literal translation: Men,s skill cuts like knives.
    • English equivalent: Words are for women, actions for men.

889. Ũgĩ wa mũndũ ũmwe ndũrĩmaga

    • Literal translation: Only one man's ability cannot till (all the fields).
    • English equivalent: No living man all things can.

890. Ũgeni wa nyama nduoyagĩrũo nguo

    • Literal translation: He who has been invited to eat meat does not waste time looking for good clothes.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that if anyone has received an invitation for a feast he does not waste time in adorning himself at the risk of arriving too late.

891. Ũgĩthondekera mũciĩ ndũngiuga nĩ ũrĩkora ũngĩ

    • Literal translation: While you adorn your house, you don't imagine that you will find another (more adorned than yours).
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to self confident people who go to discuss a question with the certainty of getting the best of it, and do not think they will meet an adversary stronger than they are.
    • English equivalent: The first caper of fools is to esteem themselves wise.

892. Ũgwĩthirima mũtino

    • Literal translation: You smear yourself with misfortune.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is told as an advice to people who are on the point of doing something which sooner or later will become a cause of misfortune.
    • English equivalent: He that cuts himself willfully, will deserve no balsam.

893. Ũhere nĩ ũgwatanagio

    • Literal translation: Scabies is contracted (by contact).
    • English equivalent: A rotten sheep infects the whole flock.

894. Ũhĩĩ nĩ ũmagwo, no ũka ndumagwo

    • Literal translation: The man comes out of childhood, but the woman never comes out of womanhood.
    • Contextual note: To understand the proverb, it must be remembered that according to Kikuyu law, after the initiation a boy is no longer a boy, but a man in the fullness of his rights. On the other hand a girl, even when circumcissed, does not become entitled to new rights.

895. Ũhoi nĩ ũgariũrĩre

    • Literal translation: Asking for something is like turning (potatoes in the fire or meat on the spit).
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he who wants to succeed in a petition tries all ways, just as he who is roasting his food turns it on all sides.

896. Ũhoro wa maitho ti wa rũthiomi

    • Literal translation: What one sees with one's eyes is not what one hears from another's tongue.
    • English equivalent: One eye-witness is better than ten hearsays.

897. Ũhũniĩ ndarĩ kĩeha

    • Literal translation: He who is sated has no affliction.

898. 'Ũi, ũi' ĩgunaga kĩ?

    • Literal translation: What is the use of crying 'ũi, ũi'?
    • English equivalent: What cannot be cured must be endured.

899. Ũi tene ĩ...

    • Literal translation: Oh, for the (good) past!
    • Contextual note: This is an expression often heard in the mouths of Kikuyu elders and corresponds to:
    • English equivalent: 'Past and to come seem best: things present, worst'.

900. Ũkabi nĩ mũhũũnu mũtu

    • Literal translation: The Masai have had their fill of flour.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu used to sell maize and millet flour to their neighbours the Masai. But if they happened to sell it too dear, the flour trade became the spark which kindled one of the many raids which ended only when the British government confined the Masai to their present territory. The proverb had the meaning of an alarm, as to say: 'Now that the Masai have eaten all the flour we have sold them dear, we may expect their revenge'.
    • English equivalent: A little spark can kindle a great fire.

901. Ũkeni ndũtũũraga

    • Literal translation: Joy does not last.
    • English equivalent: Pleasant hours fly fast.

902. Ũkũndihia ũgacoka kũnjũria ndarĩo nĩ kũ?

    • Literal translation: You wound me and then ask what is ailing me?

903. Ũkũrũ ndugaga mbu

    • Literal translation: Old age does not shout any notice-cry.
    • English equivalent: Time is the rider that breaks youth.

904. Ũkũrũ nĩ ta wonje

    • Literal translation: Old age is like being lame.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is told by or to old women.
    • English equivalent: Old bees yield no honey.

905. Ũkũrũ ũrĩaga wanake

    • Literal translation: Old age eats youth.
    • English equivalent: Old age creeps in.

906. Ũkwenda mũnyũ mbere ya mũcini

    • Literal translation: You want the salt before the person who burned the salt-grass.
    • Contextual note: To understand this proverb it must be borne in mind that, before the arrival of Europeans, the Kikuyu obtained salt from the ashes of salt-grass. (See also No. 629.)
    • English equivalent: No cross, no crown.

907. Ũmenyagwo nĩ mũraari, ti mũroki

    • Literal translation: Home affairs are known by him who sleeps in the home, not by him who only comes in the morning.
    • English equivalent: None knows the weight of another's burden.

908. Ũndĩaga rĩmwe na ũgĩ

    • Literal translation: You sometimes eat me by cunningness
    • Contextual note: In this proverb 'to eat' means 'to cheat'.

909. Ũndũ ũkwendwo ndũtanukagwo nĩ kũmerio ũmeragio

    • Literal translation: The thing that one finds palatable is not chewed, but it is swallowed quickly.

910. Ũngĩigua ĩgĩkaya nĩ nũme

    • Literal translation: If you hear a goat moan, it is because she has been bitten.
    • English equivalent: No smoke without fire.

911. Ũndũ ũrekwo ndũcokagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: One must not return on the work done.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that one must not be too attentive to the details of his work if one wants to finish it, since--
    • English equivalent: Perfection is not of this world.

912. Ũngĩgacema mũno kahahũka

    • Literal translation: If you go too carefully, (the chance) will pass away.
    • English equivalent: Sleeping foxes catch no poultry.

913. Ũngĩigua kaana gakiuga ũndũ ũgakahũra: menya kaiguite na ithe

    • Literal translation: When you hear your child say anything, you beat him; remember that he says what he has heard from his father.
    • English equivalent: Children pick up words as pigeon peas, and utter them again as God shall please.

914. Ũngĩrĩa irio cia mũthemba ũmwe irĩ kĩnyiria

    • Literal translation: If you eat ever of the same food, it becomes bitter: it is a good thing to change.
    • English equivalent: Change of pasture makes fat calves.

915. Ũngĩona ũkirĩte, ĩmeretie ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: If you see a quiet snake, it is because it swallowed another snake.
    • English equivalent: Beware of a silent dog and still water.

916. Ũracama arĩ njeme

    • Literal translation: He who has tasted (food) has its appetite.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that, if a man has willingly started to do some job, he is not satisfied until he completes it.

917. Ũrathĩna mũgũnda wa mwana ndarĩ

    • Literal translation: He who is in trouble lacks (also) a field for his son.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes seldom come alone.

918. Ũrĩ kũhĩtia na mbugi, ndũrathaga na njoya

    • Literal translation: If you have missed with the point (of the arrow) you do not hit with the feathers.
    • English equivalent: Resist the beginnings.

919. Ũrĩ kũngariũra ta mũtura wa ihĩĩ

    • Literal translation: You have tried to roast me as boys roast goat's bowels.
    • Contextual note: When a goat or an ox is slaughtered, it is a Kikuyu custom to give the bowels to the uncircumcissed for them to roast. The proverb is a contemptuous expression meaning 'I know that you want to deceive me: but don't expect to succeed as easily as boys succeed in roasting the bowels they are given'.

920. Ũrĩ kwĩirũkĩra ndũngĩthondekeka

    • Literal translation: If you despair you are not cured.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to women who go to the witch-doctors for a remedy for their sterility.
    • English equivalent: Not to have hope is the poorest of all conditions.

921. Ũrĩ mwega no ũkamenyeka

    • Literal translation: If you are good you are known.
    • English equivalent: Good wine needs no bush.

922. Ũrĩ na ithe ndaringagwo wa ngoro

    • Literal translation: He who has a father is not knocked down by any of those word or deeds that hurt one's heart (for he has somebody to defend him).

923. Ũrĩ ndũgũ nyingĩ ndatukagĩrĩrwo

    • Literal translation: He who has many friends is not caught by darkness in the road; i.e. he has a lodging for the night.

924. Ũrĩ witũ ũtandiga na ndũnjerera

    • Literal translation: You are a person who neither leaves nor waits for me.
    • English equivalent: To have two strings to one bow.

925. Ũrĩ wona rũkũre?

    • Literal translation: Have you ever seen an unsheathed knife (a thing that has frightened you?)
    • English equivalent: Scalded cats fear even cold water.

926. Ũrĩmi ndũhinyaga

    • Literal translation: The tilling does not come to an end.

927. Ũrirũ ndũthiraga

    • Literal translation: Misfortune that has put down roots, does not finish.
    • English equivalent: Mischiefs come by the pound, and go away by the ounce.

928. Ũrugarĩ ndũrĩ indo, nĩ heho ĩrĩ indo

    • Literal translation: It is not warming oneself (staying at home) that makes one rich, but talking with many people.
    • English equivalent: God helps them who help themselves.

929. Ũrugĩte na ũrugĩte matihoyanaga

    • Literal translation: Two persons, who have both cooked their food, do not beg from one another.

930. Ũrutagwo mwĩruti

    • Literal translation: The work is done if one does it.
    • English equivalent: If you want anything done, do it yourself.

931. Ũtahetwo nĩ mũigĩre

    • Literal translation: Also for the man who has not yet received a present, there is something put aside for him.
    • English equivalent: Everything comes to him who waits.

932. Ũtamerithĩtie ndaigaga kĩgĩna thĩ

    • Literal translation: He whose seeds have not germinated, does not lay down his 'kĩgĩna'.
    • Contextual note: 'Kĩgĩna' means the seeds put by for planning next season.
    • English equivalent: Perseverance kills the game.

933. Ũtana ũminagĩra mũrokerwo ng'ombe

    • Literal translation: Prodigality ruined the man who used to give away his oxen.
    • Contextual note: The legend, from which this proverb originates, tells that a very rich man used to present all his visitors with an ox, with the result that very soon he found himself reduced to poverty.
    • English equivalent: Prodigality brings a man to a morsel of bread.

934. Ũtana wa ngĩa ũragĩra ngoro

    • Literal translation: A poor man's generosity is lost in his heart (for he has nothing to show it with).

935. Ũtarĩ kondo arĩ kagara

    • Literal translation: The person who has not a small bag, has a small basket.
    • English equivalent: Every man has his lot.

936. Ũtarĩ ndarĩ ngoro

    • Literal translation: He who has nothing has no heart.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that a poor man, though refused what he asks for, does not feel so much pain as a rich man would, for the latter knows the difference between possessing and not possessing what one needs.
    • English equivalent: Nothing have, nothing crave.

937. Ũtarĩ maitho ndatumaga kĩnya

    • Literal translation: A blind man does not sew a gourd.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu make use of the dried shell of gourds as dippers or ladles. They mend them with a rough thread when they crack.
    • English equivalent: Blind men should not judge of colours.

938. Ũtarĩ ndetagwo ndundu

    • Literal translation: A poor man is not invited to a private discussion.

939. Ũtarĩ ciake na ndarĩa ciake

    • Literal translation: He is a person that does not eat other's food, nor his own.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to people who are not able to take advantage of their own things, nor of those of other people.

940. Ũtatiga ndakora

    • Literal translation: He who does not leave, will not find.
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

941. Ũtenderũ ndũrĩ njamba

    • Literal translation: Slipping has no hero, i.e. nobody however clever he may be, is guaranteed against a fall when walking on a slippery road.
    • English equivalent: No fence against ill fortune.

942. Ũtenderũ ũrĩ nja ndũrĩ mũthemere

    • Literal translation: Nobody can avoid the slippery place that is in the courtyard.
    • English equivalent: What cannot be cured must be endured.

943. Ũthayo na ng'aragu nĩ mũndũ na mũrũ wa nyina

    • Literal translation: Laziness and starvation are like a man and his brother.
    • English equivalent: Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.

944. Ũthaka ndũrĩagwo

    • Literal translation: Beauty is not eaten.
    • English equivalent: Beauty will buy no beef.

945. Ũthuuri wa gĩtonga ndũnungaga

    • Literal translation: A rich man's old age has no bad smell.
    • English equivalent: Rich men have no faults.

946. Ũthuuri wa kanua ũkĩrĩte wa mĩaka

    • Literal translation: Mouth's old age is better than year's old age.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that it is of no use to be old in years, if one does not show his old age by his wise words too.
    • English equivalent: An old goat is never the more revered for his beard.

947. Ũthũ ndũhingagia

    • Literal translation: Hatred does not affect all.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that he who is hated by some people is not necessarily hated also by all the others.

948. Ũthuuro mwega ndũiyũraga ikũmbĩ

    • Literal translation: The picking up of only the good things does not fill one's barn.

949. Ũtoĩ karirũi, oĩ wacĩ

    • Literal translation: He who does not know how to dance the 'karirũi' knows how too dance the 'waci'.
    • Contextual note: 'Karirũi' and 'wacĩ' are two native dances. The meaning of the proverb is the same as the following one.

950. Ũtoĩ ũũ, oĩ ũũ

    • Literal translation: He who does not know one thing, knows another.
    • English equivalent: Every man hath his lot.

951. Ũtonga ndũhanyũkagĩrwo

    • Literal translation: Riches are not attained by running.

952. Ũtonga nĩ kĩgunyĩ

    • Literal translation: Riches are a shadow.
    • English equivalent: Riches have wings.

953. Ũtonga ndũrĩ nyoni

    • Literal translation: Riches have no bird of ill omen.

954. Ũtonga wa mũici ndũthunaga, na nĩũteaga wake

    • Literal translation: Unlawful riches do not increase, but rather spoil the lawful ones.
    • English equivalent: Ill-gotten things seldom prosper.

955. Ũtukũ ndũtumagwo nguo

    • Literal translation: One does not sew clothes by night.
    • English equivalent: There is a time for all things.

W

956. Wa gĩthĩ ngagiragia wa kĩo akagĩa

    • Literal translation: He who feels envy cannot prevent a man of energy from becoming enriched.
    • English equivalent: Envy never enriched any man.

957. Wa haraya ũhoragĩra njĩra

    • Literal translation: The fire which comes from afar dies out in the way.
    • English equivalent: Out of sight, out of mind.

958. Wa hwaĩ-inĩ warũgwo nĩ wa kĩroko

    • Literal translation: What happens in the morning, surpasses what happened the preceding evening.
    • English equivalent: Every day brings a new light.

959. Wa karimũ wĩtirimagia na mũgĩ

    • Literal translation: The fool's staff (walking stick) is used by the wise.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that something belonging to a fool may help the wise, as the fool does not know how to use it to his benefit.

960. Wa mbũri ndũteagwo ũtarĩ mwatie

    • Literal translation: The goat bone is not thrown away if it is not completely chipped.
    • English equivalent: Do nothing by halves.

961. Wa kuona ndangĩhĩtia

    • Literal translation: He who sees does not err.
    • English equivalent: One eye-witness is better than ten hearsays.

962. Wa mũcarĩ wagwatirie wa mũtigiri

    • Literal translation: Yaws causes one to be attacked by chicken pox too.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes seldom come alone.

963. Wa Ngai ũraragio nĩ magoto

    • Literal translation: God's fire keeps alight with 'magoto'.
    • Contextual note: 'Magoto' is dry banana bark which is much used for thatching but of no use as firewood. The proverb means that God can kindle a fire and keep it alive with unsuitable materials.
    • English equivalent: With God all things are possible.

964. Wa mũingĩ wathũra mũtĩri

    • Literal translation: The work of many people scorns him who does not do it.
    • Contextual note: Work however heavy it may be, if done by many people seems to become light for each worker. This is why the proverb says that he who refused to do his part should be despised by the work itself.

965. Wa mũrũngũrũ ũrũraga na ime

    • Literal translation: The squirrel walks in the dew.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the fact that the squirrel is often seen in the road by early travellers, which would suggest that it rises very early in the morning. The Kikuyu say the proverb as a reply when, met by friends in the road, they are asked about the place they are coming from and why they are travelling so early. It means: I start my work early because I am like the squirrel that knows that morning hours are the best.
    • English equivalent: The early bird catches the worm.

966. Wa mũru ũnungaga ũrĩ thiaka

    • Literal translation: A wicked man's arrow emits its unpleasant smell even if hidden in the quiver.
    • English equivalent: Stinking fish are felt from afar.

967. Wa mwangi ndũtogaga kerĩ

    • Literal translation: The fire of the 'Mwangi' does not smoke twice.
    • Contextual note: 'Mwangi' is the name of one of the major ruling generations. The representatives of each generation stand in authority and are responsible for the conduct of public affairs all over Kikuyu land for about thirty years. After such a term there is a ceremony of handing over the custody of the affairs of the tribe from one generation to the next. The handing-over rite takes months and even years to complete. When the consolata Fathers entered Kikuyu land in 1902 the Maina generation was handing over its powers to the Mwangi generation, which in its turn has already begun to hand over to the Irungu.
    • English equivalent: Time flies away without delay.

968. Wa mwega ta wa mũru

    • Literal translation: The case of the good man is like the bad one's.
    • Contextual note: The sentence is said by elders when judging tribal questions, and means that all people have the same right and nobody can expect to have his case discussed before another's: every one must wait his turn.

969. Wa mwene ũthũire thakame

    • Literal translation: One hates to see the blood of a thing that belongs to him.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that one's heart is affected by the pains of the persons and animals whom one loves.
    • English equivalent: Whom we love best, them we want to be happy.

970. Wa mwĩrĩ ndũmenyagwo

    • Literal translation: What is inside the body is not known.
    • English equivalent: No one knows the weight of another's burden.

971. Wa mwĩtũmo ndũremaga

    • Literal translation: The work one imposed on oneself is never impossible.
    • English equivalent: Where there is a will there is a way.

972. Wainaga nĩ eroragĩra

    • Literal translation: He who used to dance, now looks on.

973. Wairire ndakerũha

    • Literal translation: He who has ever been black will never become white.
    • English equivalent: A leopard cannot change his spots.

974. Wanyua ĩnyuaga mũguĩ

    • Literal translation: He who drinks (beer in company) drinks an arrow at the same time.
    • Contextual note: The proverb means that people who drink beer together as a token of friendship, drink as well an arrow which they will use to shoot one another as soon as their friendship breaks.

975. Warĩire athĩnirie waigire

    • Literal translation: He who has eaten (all his food) vexes him who has put some aside.
    • Contextual note: A fool and his money are soon parted.

976. Warũgaga nĩ atobokaga

    • Literal translation: He who used to jump across now wades through.
    • English equivalent: Old age creeps in.

977. We ũrĩ karĩa nĩme

    • Literal translation: You are the one who eats the fruit of what your father has planted.
    • Contextual note: The proverb is a reproach to young people who expend lavishly what they have inherited from their parents.
    • English equivalent: What costs little is little esteemed.

978. We ũrĩ mũnyota matahwo

    • Literal translation: You are only thirsty when somebody has drawn the water.
    • English equivalent: The proverb is told to lazy people.

979. Wega na wega iticemanagia

    • Literal translation: Good and good never meet.
    • English equivalent: Perfection is not of this world.

980. Wega ũrĩ mbere ya kahinga

    • Literal translation: The good is to be found beyond the bush, i.e. the obstacle.
    • English equivalent: No gains without pains.

981. Wega umaga mũciĩ

    • Literal translation: Prosperity is found in one's home.
    • English equivalent: Look to the cow, and the sow, and the wheat mow, and all will be well now.

982. Wega warĩire karĩgũ

    • Literal translation: Illicit love spoilt the uncircumcised girl.
    • Contextual note: Sexual relation between an uncircumcised girl and a circumcised young man is considered unmentionable depravity by the Kikuyu.
    • English equivalent: The reward of unlawful pleasure is lawful pain.

983. Werũ ũgũthogoranĩrwo ndũagaga rũitĩki

    • Literal translation: The open country where markets are held does not lack rubbish.

984. Werũ wa arũme ndwagaga kũnunga

    • Literal translation: The open place where men used to stay cannot help stinking (because of the many quarrels and thefts which occur therein).

985. Wĩigĩire ndahũtaga

    • Literal translation: He who has put something aside will not starve.
    • English equivalent: Thrift is good revenue.

986. Wĩra wa mũingĩ ũragaga kĩrimũ

    • Literal translation: Many people's work kills the fool (because he does alone what should be done by many).

987. Wĩrane ndũrĩ ngarari

    • Literal translation: He who has been warned does not dispute.
    • English equivalent: A word is enough to the wise.

988. Wĩteithie ngũteithie

    • Literal translation: Help yourself so that I may help you.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

989. Wona ciene waruta ndũngũrũ, wona ciaku wacokia ndũngũrũ

    • Literal translation: When you see another's things your mouth waters; when you see your own you swallow such water.

990. Wonaga nĩ agaga

    • Literal translation: He who had things, may stand in need.
    • English equivalent: Today gold, tomorrow dust.

991. Woni ũrĩ njacĩ, wagi gĩtaranio

    • Literal translation: To have means mischief, to lack means thought.
    • English equivalent: Misfortunes tell us what fortune is.

Y

992. Ya gwĩthurĩra ndĩrĩ gĩthegenywa

    • Literal translation: The ox one has chosen has no imperfection.

993. Ya gwĩthurĩra ndĩrĩ ihĩndĩ

    • Literal translation: The meat one has chosen has no bone.

994. Ya kũhĩa ĩhĩaga na ma mbere

    • Literal translation: The food which cooks well is cooked with the first water.
    • Contextual note: The Kikuyu believe that the food which is not cooked in the first water, would not be cooked even if new water should be added, and it is therefore to be thrown away.
    • English equivalent: Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

995. Ya matharara ĩgwatagia ya nyeki

    • Literal translation: The hut thatched only with bad grass sets fire to the one covered with good thatching grass.
    • English equivalent: A rotten sheep infects the whole flock.

996. Ya mwene ndĩrĩ njereri

    • Literal translation: One's own ox has no cast in the eye.

(See also No. 992 and No. 993.)

    • English equivalent: Every man thinks his own geese swans.

997. Ya rika rĩngĩ ĩrĩaga ĩkĩhurunjaga

    • Literal translation: The goat which is of another age group eats scattering the fodder.
    • Contextual note: The proverb originates in the fact of the distinction which is kept among people of different age-grade, and means that if a member of an age group is admitted to eat food with people of another, he grows proud and shows no respect toward them.
    • English equivalent: Familiarity breeds contempt.

998. Ya rika ĩthĩnjaga na mweri

    • Literal translation: People of the same age group slaughter the beast to be eaten even by night time.
    • Contextual note: The proverb refers to a Kikuyu custom. Young men of the same age group used to go round from village to village until they found a rich man who gave an ox or a goat for them to eat. And when the animal was found, they killed and broiled it even if the night had already come. The proverb means that one must finish what one has begun.
    • English equivalent: Do nothing by halves.

999. Yaciara mathathatũ yongithagio nĩ mwene

    • Literal translation: The she-goat that gives birth to six kids feeds them too.

1000. Yaikio ĩikagia ĩngĩ

    • Literal translation: The goat that is pushed forward pushes forward the other.
    • English equivalent: One fool makes many.

Reference

Barra, G (1939). 1,000 Kikuyu Proverbs: With Translations and English Equivalents. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, pp. 1-123. ISBN 9966-44-113-1

External links