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Yoruba Proverbs

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A child lacks wisdom, and some say that what is important is that the child does not die; what kills more surely than lack of wisdom?
(A foolish child is not much better than a dead child.)


One does not weigh the head down with a load that belongs to the belly.
(Responsibilities should rest where they belong.)


One does not compete with another for a chieftaincy title and also show the way to the king’s house to the competitor.
(A person should be treated either as an adversary or as an ally, not as both.)


One does not complain about being looked at and be vindicated.
(One should not complain that other people are doing what one is also doing.)


One does not wallow in poverty and yet kill an elephant for public distribution.
(Always live according to your circumstances.)


One does not wait until the heat of the battle to start looking for palm-leaf midrib.
(Always make your preparations well ahead of the event.)


One does not drool in jest in the presence of the child of an epileptic.
(Never make fun of afflicted people by mimicking their affliction.)


One does not discuss secret matters in the presence of a tattler.
(Be careful with your secrets.)


One does not run from the herald of the masquerader and collide with the masquerader himself.
(Never court a greater disaster in an attempt to avert a minor one.)


One does not find helpers willing to help with one’s load and yet sprout a hump on one’s back from carrying too heavy a load.
(Always avail yourself of offered help.)


One does not see chickens about and throw one’s corn to the dog.
(Always direct help where it will be appreciated and where it will do some good.)


One does not kill the vulture; one does not eat the vulture; one does not offer the vulture as a sacrifice to one’s head.
(Certain behaviors are beyond the pale.)


One does not dare a wicked person to do his worst.
(Never tempt evil people to do their evil.)


One does not devote oneself to the home and devote oneself to the farm and not wind up neglecting one of them.
(One cannot go in two opposite directions at once.)


One does not have a thousand cowries (or six pence) at home and go chasing abroad for a thousand cowries.
(Only the promise of a greater fortune should tempt one to neglect what one already has.)


One does not opt to work on the farm and also opt to go argue one’s case and avoid neglecting one or the other.
(One cannot do two mind-absorbing tasks at once.)


One does not carve a tall statue without resting its hand on something.
(Everybody needs some support.)


One does not leave the person one has a quarrel with and face his lackey.
(Focus rather on your main problem, not a side-show.)


One does not go to bed while there is a fire on one’s roof.
(Better take care of problems before relaxing.)


(All proverbs were found here.)

Blessings in abundance!



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