Bemba Proverbs

The Bemba language, ChiBemba, is a major Bantu language spoken primarily in north-eastern Zambia. The Lamba language is closely related and some people consider it a dialect of Bemba.

The lion which has come to the end of its means is forced to eat grass.

A big tree does not fall like a little child.

He who paddles two canoes, sinks.

Treat the days well and they will treat you well.

The successor of the leopard succeeds also the spots.

Where the water recedes, there is a crocodile.

Do not insult a woman before she has undressed.

The little promise you promised is not forgotten.

What reveals a man is his behavior in time of hunger.

The honey is not forgotten but the axe is.

Spilled water is not picked up again.

At the ford, they call someone who knows about it.

The travelers are the people who bring news about the spoors of lions.

The child of a beggar eats when his mother has begged successfully.

Sitting a lot ends by making holes in clothes.

Adultery is like dung; one goes far to do it.

He who begins early helps himself a lot.

Brains of one person do not know what is going on
in the back of your neck.

What fills the small basket does not fill the large one.

A stolen orange is better tasting than your own.

The work of two is not meant to be done by one alone.

We do not know the cock in the egg.

Two people make two brains and one person only one.

He who travels with a dog may lie,
but not one who travels with people.

A bow which is stretched to the limit breaks.

Abuse of hospitality breaks the bridge.

He who is slandered is great.

A new whistle peels off the lip.

The monkey who is alone does not amuse himself in front of many.

Make haste before the road gets slippery.

He who is with fever is not shown to the fire.

The work meant to be performed by two
cannot be done by one alone.

What makes the road long is laziness to go.

Where a tall man puts up a thing,
a short one cannot get it down.

The mouth is the helper and can redeem.

The stranger who does not know where the spring is
will draw water in a dirty pool.

The child of a snake is also a snake.

The strength of one person only does not go far.

A lie comes back sooner or later.

He who does not listen does not sit at the council.

An old pontoon often capsizes.

The day you are unlucky, even the cold food burns.

Where there is meat, the vultures congregate.

The best medicine against troubles is to keep quiet.

Where there is greatness, it shows itself.

A garden is like a babe; it does not grow fast.

When you show the moon to a child, it sees only your finger.

The lion which is alone cannot see his own mistakes.

Hunger means cultivating not begging.

Bad luck rots and in the end one rejoices.

A poor man has a large stomach, not a large mouth.

The poor man does not go on a journey.

Where God cooks, no smoke rises.

Goods can be acquired, not children.

God is the blacksmith who does not forge for only one.

The little ant at its hole is full of courage.

A sick person does not hide his buttocks.

Wealth is not picked up like lice.

The person going home is not stopped by the dusk.

The harshness of the mouth does not govern a house.

Fingers which catch dirty things can be washed.

The person who beats the drum must also know the song.

A child is like an axe; even if it hurts you,
you still carry it on your shoulder.

One rat alone can bring trouble to many.

A riddle made by God is not solved.

The child who has never had indigestion eats and eats.

What women say is nonsense; but he who does not listen in is a fool.

The poor man does not go on a journey.

A sick person does not hide his buttocks.

The person going home is not stopped by the dusk.

The person who beats the drum must also know the song.

To threaten an elephant you must carry a spear.

A piece of cloth is not new for long; it is old for long.

The fire which is screened by elders is not dangerous.

A male dog does not get food for his companion.

A dog does not die at the hand of its owner.

He who travels with a dog may lie, but not one who travels with people.

Many are the eyes of the person whose spouse commits adultery.

The child of a generous person does not die of hunger.

At your mother's death another one will not come.

The stranger who is not generous is not generous in his own land.

Insults do not cause a sore.

He who was busy with two things drowned.

The trees which are growing are tomorrow's forest.

The hunger of your friend does not hinder sleep.

The trees which are pointed out by the axe do not cut themselves down.

Trees which are near to one another do not fall to scratch one another.

It is the little thing you hold that will hit the dog.

Don't provoke your in-laws before sleeping with your wife-to-be.

It is the mother hippopotamus which shows the little one how to dive.

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