Collection of a 1000 Chewa proverbs, Zambia

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Collection of a 1000 Chewa proverbsToon 001

By Toon van Kessel, FENZA Publication, 2015

Proverbs and sayings of the Nyanja speakers

Common proverbs and sayings are the grass roots of our cultures, even more so for the oral African traditions. Our nation is blessed with many cultures and languages handed down from one generation to the other. Our village is becoming global; peoples move and cultures interact; particular ways of expression blend and mix. With it, there is the danger of losing the particular wisdom of each language and custom. This collection is one more attempt among many to safeguard and preserve our cultural wisdom as expressed in proverbs and sayings of the elderly. Many of these proverbs were told to help educate and pass wisdom from elderly to young. Till this day, these proverbs can help us to understand the past and better prepare the younger generation to build their future.

To facilitate the use of this past wisdom each proverb is quoted in the original language after which a rather literal translation is given. Next, the meaning of the saying is explained and then summarized with a catchword. The subject matter of a proverb is indicated in the index of these watchwords for easy consultation.

Anton van KesselI hope this collection will facilitate understanding the richness of the “Chewa” language and to love the people more.

Fr. Toon van Kessel, Missionary of Africa, Zambia.

Chewa Proverb Collection

Anyani aonana zikang’a. Baboons see one another’s behind. (work warts)

(Those who laugh at other’s mistakes often make the same mistakes themselves, are worse.) Proverb No 30 collected by Toon van Kessel. search for Chewa proverbs

Click on the following picture to order the book on Internet. Then, simply click on “Add to Cart” and follow the normal procedure. Enjoy the reading.

Collection Proverbs Toon 2015


Visit of Theresa Sikateyo to Lua-Luo Spiritual Centre, Kasama, Zambia


Mafrwestafrica – Lettre du 15 avril 2015


  1. Marc Nsanzurwimo, M.Afr

    Many many congratulations to Bambo Toon. Mwagwira nchito yayikulu. Pitilizeni kutenda nchito zotere. Zitatitandiza ife amene tikali kuphunzira chiChewa ceni ceni. Apa e pashili pa kuleka. Tionga zikomo. Marc Nsanzurwimo, M.Afr

    • Nsengiyumva salvator,M.Afr candidate

      A good idea that helps to keep updated the africain culture!

  2. Br. Charles Kabeta, SC

    Bambo, Thank you very much for such an in-depth literature from the Zambian Language! It is a mind stretcher to make one realize how reach local cultures are and applicable to teachings in the light of ethics and morality, philosophy, spiritual and theological truths!
    Thank you for your periodic sharing of educative literature!
    Br. Charles Kabeta, SC

  3. Brian Banda

    I am a person who love proverbs so much. Happy to see that others like them too. Thanks to all those who are sharing the proverbs with us.

  4. Mabvuto Phiri

    Chichewa is not only a Zambian Language but spoken in Malawi and Mozambique too. Thanks for this effort.

  5. josphat nyirongo

    Thanks very much pa nchito yomwe mwa gwira a toon.

  6. Robert Mark Chiritsiro

    Very nice and encouraging work in preserving the little that is reaming of our cultures.

  7. Kasambwe Mpulamasaka

    My cousin told me this Chewa proverb,ive failed to translate to english.”Ni chani cha chitsa zai kuti Njobvu ityoke ny’anga. (I’m not a fluent chewa speaker,pardon my spellings).

    • mafrsaprovince

      The proverb is simple but needs some explanation. It says in good Chichewa: “Umanena chatsitsa dzaye, kuti njobvu ithyoke mnyanga”.
      – “Umanena”, “U” meaning ‘you’.
      – “Kunena” is to say or explain.
      -“Chatsitsa” = Kutsitsa, is to force something to fall from a tree or a roof.
      -“Dzaye” is a wild fruit which can grow like the size of a soccer ball.
      – ‘Njobvu” is an elephant.
      – “Mnyanga” is the ivory.
      So this proverb says; “You better identify the root cause of a problem before criticism”. In this case, an elephant wanted to eat a fruit by holding a branch to make it closer. Unfortunately, because of the force exerted by the branch, the fruit came out on its own and hit the ivory and break it. So, some animals started laughing wondering how a small fruit managed to break the ivory but forgetting the power of the branch that hit the elephant.

  8. Brian kimu

    Thank you.

  9. Mojack Chitebe


  10. Kasambwe Mpulamasaka

    @Mafrasfa province.

    Thanks again for translating my proverb very well. I need help translating this proverb as well.

    “Tinka nena ada tela musizi”

    • George Nkhoma

      Chichewa or chinyanja is one of the richest languages in Zambia. Ndakondwa kuti mwalemba ina mwa miyambi yankhani-nkhani yomwe makolo athu adatisiyira masiku akale.

  11. Takunda chibwana

    tathokoza kwambira ndi ntchito imene mukugwira koma tiri ndi ana afuna kuphunzira chichewa

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