Malawian proverbs are mostly funny but carry important meanings. They are used at weddings, funerals, initiation ceremonies and more. Recently, the young people of Malawi have been more interested with the proverbs due to Vice President Saulos Chilima using them frequently during rallied. Here are 5 Malawian proverbs that I love and their meanings.
P.S. Proverbs in Chichewa are called “Miyambi.”
1. Ukakhala pa nsana wa njobvu, usati pansi palibe mame
Literally: When you are on the back of an elephant, do not pretend there is no dew on the grass
Meaning: When you get to positions of power, do not get blinded by the pleasures that come with it and assume everyone else is doing great. It reminds one to remember where they came from and to remember the problems that existed. Biggest examples of people that are told these are politicians.
2. Chikomekome Cha nkuyu nkati muli nyerere
Literally: As tasty as figs seem, inside is full of ants
Meaning: Literally not all that glitters is gold. This proverb means not everything that seems good houses good things. I have heard this being used most to describe women, saying a beautiful woman might just have the ugliest of hearts. It is also similar to “Don’t judge a book by the cover.”
3. Mutu umodzi sunsenza denga
Literally: One head can’t lift a roof
Meaning: You can’t always achieve the best of results on your own, working with others is very important. The power of synergy.
4. Njobvu ziwiri zikamenyana ndi udzu omwe umavutika
Literally: When two elephants fight, it is the grass that is in trouble
Meaning: When leaders fight, those below them are the ones that suffer. To put in more context, when parents fight, the children are the ones that suffer the most.
5. Nkuyu zodya ana zidapota akulu
Literally: Figs eaten by kids gave elders stomachache
Meaning: Whatever a child does, reflects the lessons they got from home. If a child is naughty, it speaks volumes of the home training being given by his or her parents. Black people know that eye parents give us in public when we’re being naughty. The kind that tells you “SEE YOU WHEN WE GET HOME.”
These are 5 Malawian proverbs that I deeply love. Share your favorites down below with their meaning too, let’s all learn together. See you guys soon.