Africa is one of the continents that is richly endowed in culture. The continent believes in instilling knowledge through wise sayings and proverbs. Regardless of the origin of a saying, one can get the intended meaning of the saying. Zulu proverbs equally carry enough weight as the rest of African quotes.
Zulu is one of the South African tribes best known for upholding its culture. Its history lives on in the community's dress code, traditional ceremonies, and Zulu proverbs and idioms. The sayings are still in use, even in the modern world. They have not changed in any way, neither has the context in which they are used changed. These wise sayings are also ideal for spicing up conversations.
Zulu proverbs and sayings
Like most African communities, the Zulu have a set of wise sayings whose meanings are symbolic. These sayings are, in most cases, used to reinforce specific topics. Even though they are in Zulu, they can be translated into English without losing their intended meaning. Here are some of the proverbs in Zulu:
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1. Isitsha esihle asidleli
- Translation: A nice plate is not long eaten off from.
- Meaning: It is used to express sentiments on the damage that has been done on a good thing.
2. Uthanda ukubukwa njengesiyephu
- Translation: He likes to be looked at is like a long-hairy goat.
- Meaning: It is used to describe someone who is an attention seeker.
3. Ikhiwane elihle ligcwala izibungu
- Translation: The nice fig is often full of worms.
- Meaning: It is used to warm people who are fond of focusing on the good side of something, forgetting on the negative side of it.
4. Uphakathi komhlane nembeleko
- Translation: he is between the back and the sack.
- Meaning: It is used to refer to someone who is in the middle of cosy situations.
5. Kuhlonishwa kabili
- Translation: Respect is two ways.
- Meaning: For you to earn respect you have to give it.
6. Akukho mango ongenaliba
- Translation: There is no hillside without a grave.
- Meaning: Death is one of the unavoidable occurrences.
7. Uchakide uhlolile imamba yalukile
- Translation: The weasel is at ease because the mamba has gone out.
- Meaning: When the oppressor is away, the oppressed will find their way into doing what they like.
8. Udla indlu yakho njengentwala.
- Translation: You eat your hut (hair) like a lice.
- Meaning: You should not despise someone or something that was once beneficial to you.
9. Inkunzi isematholeni
- Translation: The bull is among the calves.
- Meaning: A great leader was once an ordinary man, the same way, the leaders of tomorrow are the youths of today.
10. Amanxiwa Kamili Mbuya
- Translation: A rolling stone gathers no moss.
- Meaning: Someone who does not settle in one place doing something does not accumulate any wealth.
11. Isikhuni sibuya nomkhwezeli.
- Meaning: The lit fire-brand has returned with one tending fire.
- Translation: If you choose to play with a risky situation, be sure that you will have to suffer the consequences.
12. Enethunga ayisengeli phansi.
- Translation: He who has a milking-pail should not be obliged to milk on the
- Meaning: If you have an opportunity, do not let others have it and be inconvenienced, all in the name of kind.
13. Libunjwa liseva.
- Translation: The day is worked while it is still fresh.
- Meaning: Make good use of opportunities when they are available.
14. Ukubona kanye ukubona kabili
- Translation: Once beaten twice shy.
- Meaning: Once you get into an unpleasant situation, you learn the art of being cautious.
15. Iso liwela umfula ugcwele
- Translation: The eye crosses the full river.
- Meaning: If you have a desire to do something, you cannot be stopped by anything.
16. Amaqili kathengani
- Translation: Cunning men do not deal with each other.
- Meaning: People of the same mischievous character cannot relate with one another.
17. Akukho nkwali yaphendela enye
- Translation: There is no partridge that scratches for another.
- Meaning: Everyone must learn to do things by themselves.
18: Ishwa lomhluzi wamanqina
- Interpretation: Misfortune of soup made of shanks and feet.
- Context: Describes an individual who never progresses but instead keeps getting into scrapes.
19. Unebhungan' ekanda
- Interpretation: He has a beetle in his head
- Understanding: Describes a person who is acting strangely.
20. Akuko mpukane inqakulela enye
- Interpretation: One fly does not provide for another.
- Context: This saying is meant for the idle, and it tells them that everyone should work for themselves as the fly does.
21. Indonga ziwelene
- Interpretation: The walls have come into collision.
- Context: This phrase is used during disputes between persons of consequence.
22. Akunyoka yakhohlwa ngumgodi waya.
- Interpretation: No snake forgets its home.
- Meaning: The proverb has the same meaning as the English proverb: East or west home is best
23. Uyakulila ngasonye uxele inkawu
- Translation: You will shed tears with one eye like a monkey.
- Use: A monkey is believed to shed tears with one eye when caught in a trap. The saying is used when warning a person against being deterred from any snare.
24. Nala kungekho qhude liyasa.
- Interpretation: Even when the rooster is not present, day dawns.
- Use: Used to describe a person who thinks they are exceptional and often have a selfish attitude.
25. Impungushe kayivalelwq nezmvu
- Interpretation: The jackal is not kept on the same kraal with the sheep.
- Understanding: This saying warns an individual from bringing together things or people that do not mesh.
26. Yimbabala yolwantunge
- Interpretation: He is a buck of an endless forest.
- Use: It is used to refer to a shiftless individual who hardly stays in any workplace.
27. Ingwe ikhontha amabala ayo amlhlope namnyama.
- Interpretation: The leopard licks both its black and white spots.
- Context: It emphasizes equal justice by those in authority.
28. Aku’qili lazikota emhlana
- Interpretation: There is no cunning person who licked himself on the back.
- Use: The saying is used to describe an individual who tried to use trickery of some sort but was discovered.
29. Amaqili katengani
- Translation: Cunning men do not deal with each other
- Understanding: Refers to two individuals who know each other's dealings and never interact.
30. Upakati kwomhlana nembeleko
- Translation: He is between the back and the sack (Mother carrying her baby on the back)
- Use: It is used to refer to someone with a protector to help him.
31. Isihlala ‘ndawonye sidhla amajwabu
- Interpretation: The sitter-in-one-place eats the skin-scrapings.
- Use: Used to refer to a lazy person who lacks the insight of his laziness.
32. Ubude abupangwa
- Translation: Height is not reached in a hurry
- Meaning: Things take time before they fall in place.
33. Inhlwa aibanjwa ngekanda isavela
- Translation: The winged termite is not caught by its head as soon as it appears.
- Meaning: Do not jump to make a judgment before you hear the whole story.
34. Akulahlwa imbeleko ngokufelwa
- Translation: the child's sack is not thrown away after the death of one child.
- Meaning: Never lose hope no matter the intensity of your adversities.
35. Kude e-Bakuba, akuyiwanga mntu
- Interpretation: Bakuba is far away; no person ever reached it.
- Context: Bakuba is an ideal country. It teaches us to be content with whatever we have as Bakuba is out of reach.
36. Izinto azimntaka Ngqika zonke
- Interpretation: It is not everyone who is a son of Gaika.
- Context: Gaika was a mighty chief of the Kei. The proverb acknowledges that we are all different and can never be equally fortunate.
37. Lukozo lomya
- Translation: It is the seed of the umya.
- Meaning: Umya is a small jet black bead, and the proverb is used when referring to someone or something very beautiful.
Popular Zulu proverbs
Here is another collection of Zulu proverbs:
38. The lion is a beautiful animal when seen at a distance.
Interpretation: This saying has the same meaning has not all that glitters is gold. It means that things may not be as they seem at first glance.
39. Even the most beautiful flower withers in time.
Understanding: Nothing is permanent, so enjoy it while it lasts.
40. You cannot cross a river without getting wet.
Context: Nothing comes free but only by hard work.
41. Old age doesn't announce itself at the gate of the kraal.
Understanding: Old age does not announce its arrival. Instead, it sneaks up on you.
42. Guessing breeds suspicion.
Meaning: Lack of concrete evidence leads to overthinking and false conclusions.
43. Every stream has its source.
Understanding: Every situation has a beginning.
44. The horse that arrives early gets good drinking water
Meaning: The saying resembles that of the early bird catches the best worm.
45. Blessed are those who can please themselves
Understanding: Self-joy is paramount
46. When you bite indiscriminately, you end up eating your tail.
Interpretation: Think before acting as it may have grave consequences.
47. The sun never sets that there has not been fresh news.
Understanding: Change is constant.
48. One who loves the vase also loves what is inside.
49. The baboon does not see its forehead.
Interpretation: Do not judge as you also have flaws.
50. No stake ever grew old with the bark on.
Going through this long and detailed list of the sayings may have you tired, and with a full head, Tale a look at these famous funny Zulu quotes to reduce these feelings:
• Every January, there is an order that is issued to destroy all operational records.
• A horse has four legs, yet it often falls.
Zulu words and meanings
After reading through these Zulu sayings, you may be interested in learning a few of the most common Zulu words. Take a look at a few that we have compiled:
- Woman - Umfazi
- Man - Umuntu
- Child - Umntwana
- Father - Ubaba
- Mother - Umama
- Dog - Inja
- Bird - Inyoni
- Meat - Inyama
- Egg - Iqanda
Apart from the proverbs, the Zulu also have interesting Zulu idioms whose meanings are closely related to that of the proverbs.
Besides these rich sayings, there are interesting Zulu quotes that are also part of the community's culture. They include:
- Ukuph' ukuziphakela
Translation: Giving is to dish out for oneself.
- Kuhlonishwana kabili
Translation: Respect is mutual.
- Bonke abantu bazalwa bekhululekile belingana ngesithunzi nangamalungelo. Bahlanganiswe wumcabango nangunembeza futhi kufanele baphathane ngomoya wobunye.
Translation: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Zulu phrases that you may find useful
Some of the most common phrases in Isizulu.
Translation: Where are you from?
- Uhlala kuphi?
Translation: Where do you stay?
- Igama lami ngu...
Translation: My name is...
- Ngisaqala ukufunda isiZulu
Translation: I've just started learning Zulu.
Proverbs and wise sayings are the one of the easiest ways of making a conversation fun. These Zulu proverbs are simple to master and carry the country's culture.
This is a must have list if you are looking for unique African baby names. Check out the names here!
Source: Briefly News