Yoruba proverbs

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The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.
Wyndham Lewis
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This is a selection of Yoruba proverbs. A translation is given for each proverb but no indictaion is given of usage or meaning (apart from the last three). This is left to the reader to determine, though other editors should feel free to add to this information.

A link is also provided at the end of the list where you can find more Yoruba proverbs.

  • Bí abá so òkò lójà ará ilé eni ní bá;
    • Translation: He who throws a stone in the market will hit his relative
  • B’ópé títí, akólòlò yó pe "baba"
    • Translation: A stammerer would eventually say "father"
  • Kàkà k'ó sàn lára iya àjé, ó fi gbogbo omo rè bí obìnrin; eye wá subú lu eye
    • Translation: Rather than an abatement of her viciousness, a witch gives birth to only female children and witchcraft multiplies
  • Teni ni teni; b'àpón sun'su, a bù f'ágùntàn rè
    • Translation: One takes care of one's own: when a bachelor roasts yam, he shares it with his sheep
  • Ìyàwó àkófé kì í rá'hùn okó, òkèlè àkóbù kì í rá'hùn obè
    • Translation: A man's first wife never complains of neglect from the penis, the first morsel never complains of insufficient sauce
  • Ile oba t'o jo, ewa lo busi
    • Translation: When a king's palace burns down, the re-built palace is more beautiful (every cloud has a silver lining)
    • Anonymous: Necessity is mother of invention, creativity is often achive after over coming many difficulties
  • Gbogbo alangba lo d'anu dele, a ko mo eyi t'inu nrun
    • Translation: All lizards lie flat on their stomach and it is difficult to determine which has a stomach ache (Everyone looks the same on the outside but everyone has problems that are invisible to outsiders)
  • Ile la ti n ko eso re ode
    • Translation: Charity begins at Home
    • Anonymous: A man can not give what he does not have good or bad behaviour is a reflection of ones background.
  • A pę ko to jęun, ki ję ibaję
    • Translation: The person that eat late, will not eat spoiled food
    • Anonymous : It is more profitable to exercise patience while seeking a durable solution, in difficult situations than to hastily accept an ill-conceived/prepared solution.
  • Eewu bę loko Longę, Longę fun ara rę eewu ni
    • Translation: There is danger at Longę`s farm (Longę is a name of a Yoruba Legend), Longę himself is danger
    • Anonymous : You should be extremely careful of situations that have a past history of danger
  • Bi Ēēgun nla ba ni ohùn o ri gontò, gontò na a ni ohùn o ri Ēēgun nla
    • Translation: If a big masquerade claims it doesn`t see the smaller masquerade, the small masquerade will also claim it doesn`t see the big masquerade.
    • Anonymous : If an important man does not respect those less important than himself, less important men will in turn refuse to give him his due.
  • Kò sí ęni tí ó ma gùn ęşin tí kò ní ju ìpàkó. Bí kò fę ju ìpàkó, ęşin tí ó ngùn á ję kojū.
    • Translation: No one rides a horse without moving his head, voluntarily or involuntarily. (your status in life dictates your attitude towards your peers)
  • Ile la nwo ka to somo loruko
    • Translation: Charity begins at home

More Yoruba Proverbs can be found at http://libtextcenter.unl.edu/yoruba/yoruba.php?text=0&view=0&uni=1&l=0