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Proverbs are wise sayings used in Nigerian culture to address an issue or used in the clarification of a sentence during communication. They signify the deep meaning of words and expressions. Communications are always backed with these wise sayings. Anyone who does not have full understanding of the language spoken in his or her culture cannot be fully grounded in the use and interpretation of proverbs. Elders and the old members of a society are fond of talking in proverbs, they teach the young ones by talking to them in proverbs. Proverbs are difficult to interpret, thus, mostly interpreted by old people that are conversant with the use of language and proverbs. . Out of the three ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Yoruba and the Igbo ethnic groups are known to be the richest in the use of proverbs.
Proverbs are the core of the culture, they help to guide the normal ways of life and thus form the center of living a healthy life. Some warn their children, relatives and people around them with proverbs. Some discreet discussions are well conveyed in proverbs. Traditional parents talk to their children or scold them with the use of wise sayings while children on the other hand take to corrections and make necessary adjustments. Proverbs are being taught in schools, homes and religious houses. Proverbs abounds in millions but the common ones alongside their interpretations will be discussed.
- Bi isu eni tab a, a ma n fowo bo o je ni (Yoruba)
Interpretation: it is not good to expose one’s success but rather to cover them up so as to avoid the evil eyes of the jealous ones.
- Jakunmo ki nrinde osan, eni a bire kin rinru (Yoruba)
Interpretation: An evil doer do not perpetuate his evil doings in broad daylight while a cultured child do not walk in the night. This proverb is to address those that travel or walk at night so as to protect them from danger.
- Koju ma ribi, gbogbo ara logun re
Interpretation: For the eyes to avoid seeing evil, your whole body must avoid being where there is evil
- Bi a ba ju oko loja, arele eni ni I ba (Yoruba)
Interpretation: If you throw a stone in the market, there is a chance of it hitting a relative. This means that one has to be careful in his dealings or deeds because the repercussion can fall on one’s blood/relatives/friends.
- Bi omode ba laso bi agba, ko le ni akisa tagba (Yoruba)
Interpretation: if a child has a robe as an elder, he cannot have as many rags as the elder. This means that a child cannot have the same experience/wisdom as an elder.
- Eni ti o bay a igbe ki nranti, eni to ba ko lo man ranti (Yoruba)
Interpretation: he who defecates do not remember but the person that cleaned up the mess will never forget. This means that the victim of a circumstance or a situation will never forget while the doer or the brain behind such circumstance may never remember. This proverb addresses men not to step on people’s toes.
- Agadi Nwanyida mgbeabuoaguoihe o bun isiya (Igbo)
Interpretation: If an old woman falls twice, the things she is carrying will be counted if she falls the third time. This means that one need to learn from past mistakes as continuous fall from the same mistake will be seen as an act of foolishness and may not be pardoned.
- Ngwerehapukwuosisi nkitaejiya, mere nri (Igbo)
Interpretation: if a lizard leaves the tree’s trunk, the dog will use it as its meal. This teaches us to always stay in our boundary to avoid troubles.
- Okukkona ada umu yaoduka ha elun ihina o’ buebeonwana-egbu ha siaba (Igbo)
Interpretation: The chicken advises her chikdren to look up because the death that kills them is there. This signifies the importance of being watchful of what is going on around us to avoid danger.
- Ewu nwuru n’oba ji abughi agu gburu ya (Igbo)
Interpretation: A goat that dies in the barn was not killed by hunger. This tells us that there is always a way so far we are not lazy.