All Things Kenyan

Masai Proverbs

A bargain cannot be held in the palm of the hand.

A blind sheep might chance across rain water.

A bull cannot bellow in two places at once.

A lie cannot fill the palm.

A lion can run faster than we can, but we can run farther.

A man does not know when he is well off; it is only when he is poor that he remembers the days of plenty.

An elephant fears attack from several sides.

A new idea (custom) follows an old one.

A particle of goat dung cannot be eaten by a large gourd.

A boy (man) is not asked where (how) he recovered.

A cow is as good as a man.

A person does not itch from a thorn that is not his.

A proverb does not answer itself.

A zebra takes its stripes wherever it goes.

Actions come by the use of the legs, and if arrows come, there are legs behind them.

Baboons do not go far from the place of their birth.

Be as familiar with observation as you are with the place you live.

Behold the people you are passing. The man is there, and the male, the woman and the female.

Being defeated and dying are the same.

Bravery is not everything, and however brave a man may be, two brave men are better.

Cheating and doing something by force are not the same.

Coal laughs at ashes, not knowing that the same fate which has befallen them will befall it.

Daylight follows a dark night.

Do not allow the belly to make you useless.

Do not go gathering fruit when a dance is taking place.

Do not jump about, for there is no use in jumping about.

Do not repair another man’s fence until you have seen to your own.

Do not show the hawk your bow, or he will fly away.

Do not sweep someone else’s home while yours is dirty.

Do not talk a great deal.

Don’t fight a lion with a stick.

Don’t go to the plain without somebody to take the dust out of your eye.

Don’t make a cloth for carrying a child in before the child is born.

Don’t reply one wrong with another.

Don’t tread on the post, i.e. don’t be proud, like the father of many sons.

Even the ostrich, with its long neck and sharp eyes, cannot see what will happen in the future.

Events follow one another like days.

Everything has an end.

Facing backwards does not perform itself.

Flies have ears.

Foolishness first, then wisdom.

Friendship likes distance.

God, shield me with your wings.

Happiness is as good as food.

He is like a hyena’s sinew.

He eats his food like a donkey.

He separates himself from his friends like a sick (or dead) donkey.

He who has a father is still not circumcised.

He who is unable to dance says that the yard is stony.

Hide the mouthfuls of food.

Home is not far away when you are alive.

If a stranger comes to stay with you, do not forget when you lay aside his weapons that he is hungry.

It cannot be cleansed with a brown he-goat.

It does not take as long to settle a quarrel as it takes a cow’s udder to fill with milk after she has been covered.

It is better to be poor and live long than to be rich and die young.

It is impossible to find a man who has everything, but it is possible to find one who enjoys the things he has.

It is the belly which daily gives thanks.

It is the eye which has travelled that is clever.

It is the same thing when a man is once there whether he has been called or whether he has come of his own free will.

Life and death are not alike.

Life has seasons.

Lonely is one.

Man is always beaten by his own tricks.

May you be as big as the white mountain.

Mountains do not meet.

Nobody can say he is settled anywhere forever: it is only the mountains which do not move from their places.

No matter how young or weak a child may be on his father’s death, he is strong in his own kraal, for his friends will see that he inherits the cattle.

One finger does not kill a louse.

One head cannot hold all wisdom.

One house cannot be divided.

She is treading against the post like one who is not allowed in the warriors’ kraals.

Teeth do not see poverty.

The bark of one tree will not adhere to another tree.

The belly does not swell if a woman is not pregnant.

The boaster will not cross the valley.

The buttocks and the ground do not remain long apart.

The buttocks never mistake the ground.

The children are the bright moon.

The cow has no owner.

The cow said ‘Say as many words about me as I have hairs in my body.’

The daily path never ends.

The elephant can trip over a creeping plant.

The elephant does not get tired of his tusks.

The eye cannot penetrate darkness.

The eye of God is large.

The fart of the mouth and that of the bottom are not the same.

The firewood which has been cut ready for burning laughs at that which is being consumed.

The forest has ears.

The hyena said ‘It is not only that I have luck, but my leg is strong.’

The man does not see the brisket he is eating.

The mouth which ate fat shall eat excrement, and that which ate excrement shall eat fat.

The neck cannot become the head.

The night has ears.

The nose does not precede the rest of the body.

The slayer of the enemy has become a coward, and the poltroon has become a brave man.

The stomach cannot steal.

The withered tree will destroy the healthy tree when it falls down.

The words of the elders are blessed.

The village which is not discussed is not built.

The zebra cannot do away with his stripes.

There is a dog in the gourd, and his ears prevent it from being closed.

There is a Judge for him, and He will avenge me.

There is no gecko that does not claim to possess the longest tail.

There is not such a thing in the world as a sheep of many colors.

Warriors and cripples remain apart.

We begin by being foolish, and we become wise by experience.

What does it matter whether a person is one’s own child or somebody else’s as long as he does his duty.

When an event occurs, only a part of the truth is sent abroad, the rest is kept back.

Why do you behave like a woman whose son has just married?

You are as clever as Konyek.

You are not like a child who when carried only presses on my back, you press on every part of my body.

You are not like firewood which is burnt, you are always there.

You cannot advise a man who is after a woman.

You cannot force water up a hill.

You know what to say, but you do not know what you might be told.

You will not be beaten when you think before acting.

Zebra of course have no huts.