Oral communication has played a major role in education and passing on knowledge among Rwandans for centuries. Stories, songs, poems and proverbs occupy a great space in our culture.
Today, I am going to share with you the most popular 5 Kinyarwanda proverbs according to my own research thanks to Instagram questions. Enjoy the read.
- Uwabonye ikirago aririra umuraza
Literal translation: The one who finds bedding, aspires for a bed-mate.
Meaning: Once a need is satisfied, another arises.
Lesson (by moi): It is human nature to always want more, bigger, better things. I believe we all owe it to ourselves to learn gratefulness and real satisfaction. Needs will always be there but how we react to them is the real us.
- Iby’ejo bibara ab’ejo
Literal translation: Tomorrow’s things are told by those coming tomorrow.
Meaning: The future belongs to no one.
Lesson (by moi): Tomorrow is never promised. Always grab the opportunity as it comes your way and live your life every day at a time.
Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today
- Useka umuturanyi ukabyuka musa.
Literal translation: You make fun of the neighbor and the next day you wake up looking like him.
Meaning: Do not laugh at the misfortune of others because no one is exempt.
Lesson (by moi): Karma hits back harder than anything in life. Never laugh at other people’s pain because tomorrow it might be you in their shoes. Empathy is an important quality to have.
- Ushaka imbuto y’umugisha yurira igiti cy’umuruho.
Literal translation: Whoever seeks the fruit of luck climbs the tree of sorrow.
Meaning: The path to success is not always easy things can become a rough and painful.
Lesson (by moi): Always focus on your goals. Yes, it is not always easy but keeping your eyes on the prize will armour you with the strength you need to get there.
- Umugani ntuva ku busa
Literal translation: A proverb never comes as if from nowhere.
Meaning: All proverbs have a good reason of existing.
Lesson (by moi): It is easy to ignore a proverb or a saying because you feel like it is irrelevant to you or your current life situation, but we always need to remember that “There is no smoke without fire“.
Bonus: Aho umutindi yanitse ntiriva: This literally translates “Where to poor hangs their clothes, the sun does not come out.” This is used when one goes through a series of unfortunate event. Considering all the technical problems I had with delivering this blog post it only felt right for me to add it to the list.
It felt nice sharing some Rwandan knowledge with my blog family. Language plays a great role in a society’s culture and identity, let us always work together to preserve and keep them alive for future generations.