Saturday, April 19, 2014

Swahili Proverbs

What makes Swahili proverbs stand our it their musicality. Many of the proverbs convey the same message as our English counterparts, but they do so in delightfully rhythmic, often rhetorically balanced, and sometimes rhyming fashion.

Haraka haraka haina baraka.
Quick quick is without blessing.
English counterpart (also rhyming): Haste makes waste.

Hasira hasara.
Anger loss.
English counterpart: An angry man stirs up strife, and  hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. --Proverbs 29:22

Abufaaye kwa dhiki ndiye rafiki.
One who profits you in times of need is a true friend.
English counterpart:  A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Polepole ndiyo mwendo.
Slowly is the way to go.
English counterpart: Slow and steady wins the race.

Mganga hajigangi.
A doctor doesn't heal himself.
English counterpart: A doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient.

Proverbs encapsulate the core truths of human nature, which is the same throughout every culture. They provide food for thought and anchor points for decision making.

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