Kenya // The Coast //

Swahili proverbs and sayings


The Swahili are renowned for the imagery, rhythm and complexity of their proverbs. Kangas always have some kind of adage printed on one side and these are often traditionally Swahili. The first one listed below is the one most often heard. For more kanga aphorisms, see

Haraka, haraka: haina baraka – Haste, haste: there’s no blessing in it.

Nyumba njema si mlango – A good house isn’t (judged by) its door.

Mahaba ni haba, akili ni mali – Love counts for little, intelligence is wealth.

Faida yako ni hasara yangu – Your gain is my loss.

Haba na haba kujaza kibaba – Little by little fills the jug.

Kuku anakula sawa na mdomo wake – A chicken eats according to her beak.

Mungu alihlolandika, haliwezi kufutika – What God has written cannot be erased.

Heri shuka isiyo kitushi, kama shali njema ya mauwa – Better an honest loincloth than a fancy cloak (of shame).

Mke ni nguo, mgomba kupalilia – A wife means clothes (like) a banana plant means weeding.

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