Classic Xhosa Proverbs
Many historical Xhosa proverbs conveyed excellent practical lessons of prudence and wisdom. Very fun and interesting to read and ponder. Here are some and their English meaning:
A brand burns him who stirs it up
Let sleeping dogs lie.
One fly does not provide for another
Each should work for himself, as flies do. A saying of the industrious to the idle.
He is ripe inside, like a watermelon.
Said of anyone who has come to a resolution without yet expressing it.
It is a cob stripped of grain in an ashpit.
Said of a worthless character.
Throats are all alike in swallowing.
When one asks another for anything, it implies if you do not give to me now, I will not give to you when I have anything that you would like a share of.
He has drunk the juice of the flower of the wild aloe.
Said of a dull, sleepy person. This juice when drunk has a stupefying effect, and benumbs the lims so as to make them powerless for a time.
The walls have come into collision.
Said of a dispute of consequence between persons.
A person who will not take advice gets knowledge when trouble overtakes him.
He is a buck of an endless forest
Someone who never continues long in any occupation, always shifting around.
You are lighting a fire in the wind.
Said to anyone who favours strangers in preference to relatives, or to their disadvantage.
There is no beast that does not roar in its den
Every cock crows on his own dunghill. A man recognizes no superior in his own establishment.
A dog of the wind
Someone who has no settled plan of living.
I, the adhesive grass, will stick fast to you.
This proverb is used as a warning to anyone to avoid a bad habit or an unworthy companion that cannot easily be got rid of.
The land is dead.
War has commenced.
One does not become great by (only) claiming greatness.
A man's actions, and not his talk and boasting, are what makes him great or not.
The wonderful and the impossible have come into collision.
A saying applied to any intricate question
It is the foot of a baboon.
A saying denoting a treacherous person.
We shall hear; we are on the side towards which the wind blows.
We shall soon know all that is going on.
He has gone in pursuit of the (fabulous) birds of the sea.
A saying applied to one whose ambitious aspirations are not likely to be realised.