Kamba - Riddles and Proverbs

The following proverbs and riddles are mostly from Mwikali Kieti and Peter Coughlin's "Barking, You'll be Eaten! The Wisdom of Kamba Oral Literature" (1990: Phoenix Publishers Ltd., PO Box 18650 Nairobi). Please read the copyright notice.
In this page:


Wikuma wilika
Despite your bark, you'll be eaten!
- Like braggarts, cowardly dogs bark a lot. Prowling leopards easily spot and eat them.

U wi kivetani nduthekaa ula wi iko
One in the woodpile does not laugh at one in the fire
- Don't laugh! You may be next.

Too umanthaa na awe
Only a medicine man gets rich by sleeping
- With money in hand, clients with wake him up.

Nguli syonthe itiania musoani
All monkeys cannot hang on one branch.
- people differ

Ki kitungaa mutumia ndithya ndakisi
An old man doesn't know what makes him herd again.
- Old Kamba men rarely herded; their sons and grandsons did.

A woman's stomach does not grow if she is not pregnant

The person who has not traveled thinks his or her mother is the best cook

Riddles (Ndae)

Kungula kangala kithembeni?
Kungulu kambagal (noise) in the drum?

Mutwaano wa mbia
A wedding of rats

Nayiatha na kaluma ndiu ndukakwata?
It's in space, and you can't touch the eagle eater?

A star

Kaveti kaa kanini kakilitye mwenyu kuua?
This small woman cooks better than your mother?

A bee

Kikungu muingo?
Dust on the other ridge?

Nzana isembee mwana
A monitor lizard running for its child

Masee ma asa meanene?
My father's two equal calabashes?

Itu na nthi
Earth and sky

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