5 Malawian Proverbs I love

5 Malawian proverbs

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.”

5 Malawian proverbs

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.



15 thoughts on “5 Malawian Proverbs I love

  1. I also used number two in my post!
    I understand most words in Chewa so I was able to interpret them before reading the translation. Except for words like denga lol that one confused me.

    Great Proverbs

  2. Mutu umodzi sunsenza denga 👏🏾 take home and number 4.
    We need to know the consequences our actions will have.
    You have a beautiful language.

    Malawian… Hmmm I should think about doing both Ghanaian and Malawian classes on Duolingo. Haha

  3. I love this post – you’ve given me better insight. my favourite one is #3 ‘mutu umodzi’

    My personal faves are;
    1. ‘Kuwona maso ankhono n’kudekha’; literal translation is you have to be patient to see a snail’s eyes’ i.e. patience yields results.

    2. Okumwa tea adzamwaso, bola osaswa kapu; they that drink tea will drink it again, so long as the cup is not broken. i.e. don’t despair when you face misfortune, if you’ve been successful before, you’ll succeed again, so long as you don’t destroy your resources or tools.

    1. I need to apply the tea proverb to my own life. Lately I’ve been losing hope, but that saying is enough to push me. Thank you

  4. I can’t help but wonder that most (if not all) of these proverbs do apply to the current political situation here in Malawi. What a coincidence, I love the post. It has been a great read. My favorite proverb is Kuona maso ankhono nkulinga utadekha.

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