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Some Yorùbá Proverbs

Proverbs

Yorùbá Proverbs are wise sayings passed through generations to teach historical lessons, highlight good morals, and instil social values. The use of a Yorùbá Proverb by a younger person is prohibited in the presence of an older person, without prior permission to do so.

Below is a table of some Yorùbá Proverbs, their literary translations and meanings:

Yorùbá Proverb Literal Translation Meaning
Adìẹ funfun kò mọ ara rẹ̀lágbà The white chicken does not realise its age Respect yourself
Ọbẹ̀ kìí gbé inú àgbà mì The soup does not move round in an elder’s belly You should be able to keep secrets
À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ
àkókó ń yọjú
A sculptor is summoned and the woodpecker shows up Never think too highly of yourself
Díẹ̀ díẹ̀ nimú ẹlẹ́dẹ̀ẹ́ fi ń wọgbà Little by little is how the pig’s nose enters the yard Attend to a small problem before it becomes uncontrollable
Ilé ọba tójó ẹwà ló bùsi The king’s palace that got burnt added beauty to it Every cloud has a silver lining

 

Values fostered

Examples of Proverbs/ Maxims

1 Respect and honour for elders

À ì fi àgbà fún ẹnìkan kò jẹ́ kí ayé ógún

(Failure to give regards to other is the fundamental cause of societal abnormality)

 

 

2 Regard and appreciation for one’s family and benefactors

A kì í fi ọwọ́ òsì júwe ilé bàbá ẹni

(we should not point at our father’s home with the left hand)

 

 

 

3 Self control and courtesy

Fálànà gbọ́ tìrẹ, tara ẹni là á gbọ́ (Falana-a generic name, mind your business)

 

 

  1. Virtues of forgiveness, harmony and

peaceful co-existence

Bí a kò bá gbàgbé ọ̀rọ̀ àná, a kò ní rí ẹnìkan à á bá seré (Unless we overlook the past misdeeds, we will not be able to relate

 

 

5 Diligence and industry

Isẹ́ ni òògùn ìsẹ́ ( Hard work is the cure for poverty)

 

 

6 Truth and honesty

Òtítọ́ kì í sìnà irọ́ nii fi orí gbọgbẹ́

(Truth does not make mistake, falsehood lead astray).

 

 

7 Unity and cooperation

Àjèjì ọwọ́ kan kò gbẹ́rù dé orí (One hand cannot lift a heavy load to the head.

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