Kuria - Riddles and Proverbs

If anyone has any more Kuria proverbs, please send them to me, so I can justify the plural title!


The following proverb and (edited) explanation is from the rather cool "African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories" website, which has both a proverb of the month (with lengthy explanations, like the one below), and a proverb of the day which you can also subscribe to in your email, just to keep you happy - well worth a bookmark. Many thanks to Joe Healey for permission to use it here.

Omoonto umwi nkirunguuri, ababere nitoonge rebukima
One person is thin porridge or gruel; two or three people are a lump (handful) of ugali

Kuria proverb


Ugali is the staple food of the Kuria, as it is for most east Africa people, and a person would not feel that he or she had eaten a real meal unless ugali had featured. Essentially, ugali consists of a mass of cooked flour like semolina: traditionally, sorghum, millet or cassava flour was used to make it, but nowadays maize (corn) flour is more common.

When boiled in water to the thin consistency of porridge or gruel, it is a light food normally taken at breakfast, given as a first drink before eating ugali or given to a sick person. This signifies weakness, like a single person. But allowed to harden into ugali, the meal or flour has a firmness and substance like a group of people who work together. The way it is prepared (in a hard ball-like shape) and eaten (a fistful that is squeezed and chewed) signifies strength.

The ugali symbolizes that when two or more people come together they become strong because of unity. Their separation would weaken them like thin porridge. The basic theme of this Kuria proverb is "unity is strength." The proverb is used to encourage unity within the family community.

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