Friday 20 January 2012

Proverbs from Igbo land

I am an igbo girl ( or 'ibo' like most people spell and pronounce it)
I am a confident, to-the-core, well rounded, proud and confirmed igbo girl.
I speak and write the langauge fluently. I love igbo names, i love igbo food, i love the intelligence and industriousness of the igbo people, i love the rich culture, i love the festivals. I love the sound of the flute


and the sound of the 'ekwe' .

Mehn, i love being igbo.
Though these days, you rarely see an igbo person (or any other ethnic person for that matter) speak the language for 60secs straight without adding english here and there.
It pains me when i see people from different parts of the country who dont know how to speak their languages talk more of know their culture. They only know  the name of their state, struggle to pronounce the name of their local government councils and practically chew their tongues when they try to pronounce the name of their villages! They see not being able to speak their language as being 'tush' and being 'trendy'. 'Afterall, those that speak the language are village people' (thats how some even think)
Please note: You can be tush, trendy, 'jebby' and still be a proud part of your ethnicity by knowing your language.

For you to hit your chest and say you can actually speak your language, you have to know how to say and translate the proverbs that you have in your langauge.
In igbo land, they say "Proverbs is the oil with which the igbo man eats words". 

There are lots of proverbs in my language and they can be used to buttress points, explain things and sometimes even - make jokes.
Here are some of them - translated to english - and their meanings:
  • "Will you kill some one you will also have to bury?" - will you hurt someone close to you
  • "An old woman is never too old to dance to the steps she knows how to dance" - No matter how long ago you stopped doing something, as long as you know how to do it well, you can always do it anytime
  • "You can only go round a pepper tree, you cannot climb it" - No matter how much effort you make, there are certain things you just cannot/will not do
  • "Money is in thorns" - There is no easy way to make money
  • "The water in the snail shell (the snail shell was used to give water to dogs in the days of old) is still waiting for the dog" - No matter how much you avoid your problems, they are still there waiting for you (so the earlier you face and thrash  them the better)
  • "Conflict in the land is to the benefit of the chiefs" (cheifs have to keep the peace in the land at some fee) - Even when things are not going well, there are still people that benefit from the situation (Fuel subsidy removal as a case study)
  • "No matter the height of a kid goat, he still has to kneel down to suck the mother goat's breasts" - You are never too big to respect your elders
There are SO MANY more but let us just stop here for now. If you need to hear more, just let me know.

Are you proud of who you are, where you come from? Do you know any proverbs in your language?
Drop it here and let us know that you are a son/daughter of the soil! Say the proverb and tell us what it means.



  1. I am proudly Igbo too.
    i love that your number 3 (okirikiri ka na gba ukwu ose....) took me a long time to undastand that one since i tot ukwu ose is like any other

  2. In my unadulterated dialect as an Arondizuoguian, a proverb goes thus: 'akpu ohu n'abo nkutuko nkutuko ya e nwe na nke kuwuru ibe ya'. Meaning: live and let live

  3. @ Luciano - wow! didnt know you are igbo oo. Nwanne mmadu
    @ Maukams, na 'akpu ohu' be the 1st proverb wey enter ur mind abi? lol
    @ Anon, iseeeee!

  4. Yay!!!! I'm Igbo too.

    But my favourite proverb has got to be this one:

    You can scare an old woman with a big penis.

    Heh hehe.

  5. my dear,i feel ashamed dat i cant speak igbo 4 1 hr without switcing to english,yet i can converse in 2 other 9ja languages.i even hold a record in my secondary sch as d igbo student to hv passed yoruba.

  6. that's one thing i love about igbo people they always know how to speak their language even the ones outside the's a shame i can't speak mine i hate to admit that really

  7. Ukwa ruo oge ya o daaa. Igbo kwenu. :-)

    @ kimqhc: Don't be too hard on yourself. You can improve on your knowledge of Igbo from now (I'm talking to myself too cos I speak ngirigbo too sometimes. :-D ). I guess you schooled in Lagos for you to be that fluent in Yoruba.

  8. Yippeee!! I love this post and am proudly IGBO!I couldn't speak English (i only spoke igbo) till i got into nursery school and Growing up, my parents made us read igbo bible and pray in igbo at family devotions. some proverbs i remember are
    1. Awo adighi agba oso ehihie n'efu
    2. Ejighi anya oma aga uka ekpere
    3. Nwata kwochaa aka osoro okenye rie nri

  9. Disappointed that your Igbo proverbs were written in English.

  10. Nne, dalu. Ibu ezigbo Ada Igbo.

    For once I've seen an Igbo blogger proud of our culture. I'm very impressed and I'm your latest follower. I'm inviting you to my blog also.

  11. @ Sugabelly - lol, u've gat to be kidding me! Na dat proverb you remember???
    @ Kimqhe - Its ok. Its understandable but you can work on it and you'd see amazing results.
    @ Che - Nneoma, ihe a ma cha kwa. lol
    @ Eyesoftruth - You have made me proud! You didnt just say the proverbs, you wrote them flawlessly!!! Biko nu, kuo ro eyesoftruth aka ndi azuru azu (kpa kpa kpakpakpa kpa)
    @ adebsrk - if i had written the proverbs in igbo, how would the non igbos have an idea what i am talking about? Igbo here know the translation of all proverbs given
    @ Naija4life - Nna, a na m agbaga na ohere gi ugbua ka m ga hu ihe di ebe ahu ma soro kwa gi ngwa ngwa. Dalu maka otu isi na-eso m

  12. I no sabi speak my ashamd of dis. Pls how can i learn it!

  13. there is a book called book of jashar,goggle it and know more about the igbos .ndeewoo nu

  14. wow dis has really inspired me. I grew up as an igbo girl not knowing how to speak igbo cos my parents spoke english to me, but am determined to learn igbo now and i will make sure my own childern spoke igbo to me.

  15. Atuwaram anya na, o bu so asusu igbo ka anyi nile ka eji akorita. Mana obi lara m miri na o bu bekee ka anyi ji akorita.Obu gi ihe ntuwara anya.

  16. hmmmmm!......interesting read......i'm proudly igbo too....was kinda really rusty as a growing kid.....but like old wine, i'm getting better with age!

  17. hello Amaka this is honestly a job well done.could u pls help upload more of this kind.Thanks

  18. Oke oshimmiri anokataghi rie onye
    obula nke o na-ahughi ukwu ya anya. (The ocean never swallows a person with whose leg it does not come in contact.)


Words of wisdom!