Tonga proverbs, by Isaac Mumpande - "M"

Article Index




 206. Maala ajisi nsimba tabuli kununka.

( Fingernails that held a civet cat will smell)

A person who assisted you in doing something must be rewarded in whatever way to show gratitude.



207. Maambo mabbigwa.

(News is stolen.)

The ear usually listens to issues not meant for it.


208. Maambuulwa tajeyi pesi abakoonia bubi.

(Gossiping and bad talk do not kill but only cause you not to sleep well.)

People ’s bad talk does not kill . Even if people gossip about you, continue with what you are doing as long as you know that it will benefit you .


209. Maande atembo asyzaala kaabwa. (see 503)

(Frogs of  the tembo remain splashing water.)

Leave a function ,as nice as it is ,if you have something else to do; otherwise ,if you wait up to the end ,you will be distracted .


210. Maande ajatilwa aamwi.

(Bull frogs are caught at the same time.)

If you are many in numbers ,when you start doing something together you tend to proceed very well and finish up at the same time.


211. Maanzi atobelezya kalonga.

(water follows a river channel .)

People tend to provoke somebody they know is powerless ,or do things they know are easy to accomplish rather than going for something difficult .


212. Maanu taazwi mumutwe uumwi  (see195).

(Wisdom does not come from one head.)


213. Maanzi naayuminina aboola aamwi.

(When a pool of water is drying up ,water moves towards the centre.)

When people are in problems they tend to come together to discuss the problems in a bid to come up with lasting solutions.


214. Mali mwanakazi tisiilanwi.

(Money is like a woman; you cannot entrust it to anyone.)

It is difficult to keep somebody ’s money because , if crippling problems arise ,one is bound to use the money.


 215. Malo aamweenzu mayalulwa .

(A visitor does not make a permanent bed.)

A visitor cannot finish your resources ,therefore ,just share with him /her whatever little resources you have.


216. Malo aamweenzu nchikwelete (see169).

(A visitor’s temporary bed is a credit on their part.)


217. Malowa ngutazwi abaanga maanzi.

(The blood that does not ooze from you is like flowing water.)

You never really feel the pain/ gravity of a problem unless it’s yours.


218. Malweza ulabona atungana mulongo kaaya kumulonga.

(bad omens may make a single file going to the river ).

When things happen out of the ordinary ,it is a warning of looming disaster.





219. Malweza ampisyo muungo ulaabupalike.


(Bad omens are like food crumbs on a churning stick which is not as easy to clean as a cooking stick.)

What would have happened is extremely surprising, out of the ordinary.


220. Manyika manyika julu ndilimwi.

(There are many countries but under one heaven.)

The cultures of people differ from one place to another. Never think that your culture is superior.


221. Masamu aatenteene mbibantu.

(Scattered trees are the people.)

If relatives stay in different places they remain more united but if they stay together they can easily fight and create enmity.


222. Maatako aakkede aamwi taabuli kusundana.

(Buttocks that are together push each other.)

People staying together /friends sometimes do get involved in a conflict .It’s normal.


223. Matako aamweenzu makkazikwa.

(You can request a visitor to stay longer.)

A visitor should not refuse to extend his / her stay at the request of the host.


224. Matanda ngakusunzulusya (see 355).

(You have to try to push logs.)

Try and you may succeed .Do not fear from afar but always try to do /tackle what you are contemplating.


225. Matanga azyalila batakwe tulongo .

(Pumpkins tend to be many to those without pots.)

Luck sometimes goes to people who do not know how to use it.


226 .Mateyo mbantu.

(Shrubs are people.)

No matter how secretly something is done,people will get to know .


227. Matongo masilanwa (see 26).

(Ruins are left for the successors.)


228. Mayoba akamweena sikubba.

(Dark rain clouds deceived a thief.)

Do not start a conflict because you think your friends /relatives present will rescue /assist you .They may not intervene, then you will be thoroughly beaten/killed.


229. Mazikuka zikuka mpuwo zilaabambi (see 343).

(People are busy but the rumour of their success goes to another person .)

The success of a group of people is usually attributed to their leader rather than to the people on the ground . For example ,the success of the army is attributed to the commander , not the soldiers ;the success of the company is attributed to the manager ,not the workers.


230. Mbavwe yakajeye mwali muunzi .

(A person who was assist killed the owner of the home.)

When you assist somebody ,when he /she is assisted /settled and enjoying the help you gave them ,they sometimes kill or do harm to you .So not all people are grateful.



231 .Mbeba izyeede tinonyi bula.

(A mouse with young ones does not eat to get satisfied.)

Parents put the plight of their children first before they think of they own welfare ,especially in terms of food. If parents get food they would rather take the food to their children before they eat themselves.


232. Mbeba ntande tiisali bulyango.

(A mouse running away from danger gets into any hole.)

A person running away from danger seeks refuge anywhere. It could be in deep waters, somebody’s house ,thorns,etc.


233. Mbizi tiibili museli wayo .

(A zebra cannot fail to have friend.)

Every person ,regardless of his / her character ,has a friend .


234. Mbonena aamwi  nintani (see 12).

(It’s rare for two people to simultaneously see something.)


235. Mbubu livune kubuye ntumbula banyina balaamamvwa (See 196).

(Mbubu fruit rescue yourself by being bitter because ntumbula fruit has thorns.)


236. Mbula bwamunkala bwakulisembela.

(It’s dog ‘s stomach.)

One is doing everything on one’s own without any assistance.


 237. Mbuungumane bwatumba zilimumoyo nzinji .

(An owl appears passive but knows a lot.)

Never mistake a quiet person for a fool and useless one .You never know what they are capable and incapable of doing.


238. Mbuyaanzi kutanda nzi anyama yamubwa.

(What surprising generosity to chase files from a dog’s meat.)

Never appreciate anything good from your enemy .It can be a trap / bait meant to capture you.


239. Menyo taayimanwi.

(One cannot fail to smile.)

Never be deceived by a smile from your enemy .It will never be a genuine one .


240. Meso aakabwenene taayindani lumwi.

(Eyes that once saw each other will see each other again.)

People who once met will meet again .Usually used be people bidding farewell to each other .


241. Meso kubona nkukulya .

(Seeing something is eating it.)

Just seeing your lover /somebody one longs to meet /see ,even if you do not speak to them ,is better than totally missing them.


242. Meso dikumbilile mulomo wayoowa.

(Eyes ask on my behalf since the mouth has feared .)

A person is shy to verbally ask for something that they need ,so they indicate that they need it by the way they look at it.


243. Milomo yabantu tiiwidi aansi (see 274).

(People’s mouths do not fail down.)

If you ignore the advice you get from people ,you will find yourself in the difficulties which people were warning you against.


244. Minwe tiyelani (see 12)

(Fingers will never be the same in length.)


245. Moyo mulamfu .

(A long heart.)

Having patience even under intensive provocation /difficulties.


246. Moyo wamwaami tuyubunuki ndaba nkuku ntimbule mutwe .

( The heart of a chief does not reveal defeat . I am a chicken whose head has been cut.)

A junior tends to give in to the needs of his / her superior because of fear of victimization even if the junior has a good point to make.


247. Moomba wakati muntu ,muntu susu.

(A moomba bird said a person is a person because of hair.)

A human being is a very complicated animal ; you cannot say you really know a person because any time they can do the unexpected.


248. Moofu wakati takongwi kuliliso. (see 147)

(A blind person will always go wherever there are eyes.)


249. Mpiisungwa mpiizyala bapwizi.

(Where it is tethered that’s where there it bears more she –goats.)

Where a married woman is ill –treated she stays longer than in a marriage where she is well treated.


250. Mpongo nguya njiichinchaanisya kukuzyala.

(A generous goat is the one that alternates he /she kids.)

A good wife is one who bears both boys and girls, not only girls or only boys.


251. Mpongo yalumwa siluwe ndidya busyolooka.

(A goat killed by a leopard is eaten while one is complaining.)

A person may complain about using something but they do not stop using it because they have no other option.


252. Mpongo yazyalilwa mwako njiyako.

(A kid born in your kraal becomes yours.)

If your wife bears a child while still yours, that child is said to be yours even if a different man fathered that child.


253. Mubi ,mubi  alike

(A bad person is bad alone.)

Do not revenge by doing a bad thing if somebody wrongs you . Leave a bad person alone.


254. Mubili mubi uzi mwalaawo.

(A bad body is better known by its owner.)

A person knows him / herself, what they can afford and what they cannot afford in life  and also what disease / handicap they have in life.


255. Mubotu tafwi bunone. (see 257)

(A nice person does not die in a good way.)


256. Mubotu takkali .

(A nice person does not live longer.)

A generous good person tends to die earlier than people expect.


257. Mubuto uyoofwa kabaseka (see 255).

(A nice person will die while people laugh at him.)

A nice person dies miserable death.


258. Mubwa tavubi mubwa nyina.

(A dog does not keep another dog.)

A poor person cannot support another poor fellow.


259. Mukayintu mbulindana mudima.

(A wife helps a husband go through a night.)

By marrying ,a man gets a helper in life.


260. Mukkala chiindi usiya katongo.

(A person who stays long at a place leaves a ruin.)

A person who stayed in an area for a long period is never forgotten by the people of that area . Even if he / she dies or moves to another area ,residents of his /her former area will continue referring to him / her.


261. Mukwaansa mukwasi nyokwe.

(A son- in-law is a fellow son-in-law.)

A son -in -law must not be ill treated or made to labour much by the father -in -law.


262. Mukwansa mwana.

(Your son-in-law is also your son.)

A son-in-law is usually absorbed into the family of his in-laws and treated like their biological son.


263. Mukwansa ndoozi.

(A son-in-law is fibre.)

In a marriage a son-in-law ties / brings together his family and the wife’s family in such a way that a strong  relationship is created between the two families.


264. Mukwe mutaanzi musanyokwe.

(A first son-in-law is your colleague man.)

You r first  son-in-law must be respected more than those that come later .


265. Mulandu tuyetwi wakafwa (see 266).

(A crime is not committed by a dead person.)

Never laugh at somebody who commits a crime because ,you never know ,it may be you tomorrow.


266. Mulandu uyetwa awuputa (see 265).

(A crime is committed by a live person).


267. Mulida kufwa mbooma (see 277).

(A python eats to die).

Never eat all your food in one day, forgetting that you will need to eat again tomorrow.


268. Mulide mbubu asike.

(Eat his / her mbubu fruits so that he /she comes.)

If you give up waiting for someone who is delayed ,he /she will arrive immediately after you depart .In other words ,be patient if you are waiting for somebody to come.


269. Mulililo wawo muyuni tuwuleki.

(A bird never changes the way it cries.)

A thief / badly behaved person will remain a thief / bad even if put among the well behaved people .Some people do not stop their bad behaviour / habits even when put among good people.


270. Mulisa wanzala ninyota.

(A helper of hunger is thirst.)

Usually people of bad behaviour have the same interests.


271. Muloba tatundi masi aabili .

(A man does not rule in two territories.)

A boss is only a boss in his / her own territory but outside their area they are as simple /ordinary as anybody else .


272. Muloba tazembi ngoma zibili (see 271).

(A man does not perform a war dance in two different cultural dance.)


273. Muloba wakalya chakusola (see 129).

(A man ate something from trying.)


274. Mulomo mulozi (see 243).

(A mouth is a witch.)


275. Mulonga uzula aabuyoboyobo.

(A river is filled by many tributaries.)

Everything comprises tiny things brought together . Never underrate those tiny things that when brought together make big things.


276. Mulongo ulaanyokozyala tuwaalwi kabwe.

(Do not throw a stone at a single file of women where your mother-in-law is present.)

Never throw a weapon to kill somebody who is in a crowed of people where your relative is .Instead of killing your target, your weapon will stray and kill your relative.


277. Mulya choompa utazi kuti bulacha (see 267.)

(A person who eats as if it will not dawn tomorrow.)


278. Mumudima takwaabanwi nyama.

(Never share meat in the darkness.)

Never do /discuss anything in darkness because you never know whether you are going it properly/ who is listening to you.


279. Munsamu umena mpuuyanda.

(A tree grows where it wants.)

A person must be given the right to choose the person to marry rather than having a partner chosen for them.


280. Munsuma wawida aansi nchoolwe chamunkala (see 4).

(A morsel that falls down is the luck of a dog.)


281. Muntu mulemu ninyama yamunkala.

(A very close female /male relative is a dog ’s meat.)

Never be rigid with your sisters about love affairs because you will not marry them . Leave them to choose who they want to go out with.


282. Muntu ngulyaawe ngukujeya.

(A person whom you eat with is the one who kills you.)

Your closest friend /relative is the one who can easily kill you because they know how you live ,what you like most and how best to kill you.



283. Munwe uumwi tupwayi njina (see 195).

(One finger cannot kill a lice.)

Working together as a team produces better results than working as an individual .


184. Mupati ndumano.

(A mature person is a tong.)

An old person is the one who is put at the forefront on behalf of their group /relative when things are tough . Old people have vast wisdom and experiences which they can utilize to negotiate and resolve problems.



185. Mupati usuluzya kumakosi .

(A mature person hides their anger /disappointment .)

Mature people never give an offensive answer .If they are not interested in a thing they simple hide behind a finger instead of directly refusing .


286. Mupati uwuminwa aalimuzimbwa.

(A respected person is beaten when you are trying to kill a tsetse fly biting him /her.)

It’s not easy to take revenge as an adult ,therefore ,one tends to exploit a situation which arises to cover up the revenge process.


287. Musa tesyandabile, ngumfundumane.

(Marriage is not something you can taste but requires committed.)

People who get into marriage must be prepared to face a lot of hardships otherwise their marriage may not last long.


288. Musako ngujisi nguukuvuna.

(A staff in hands is your defence.)

Use whatever you have at that time to shield yourself (pay a fine) from the crime you will have committed.


289. Musangu tapedi mujaanza.

(The god does not give directly).

A positive response from the ancestral spirits does not come directly but they give through somebody or open more avenues /opportunities for one to exploit and get what one wants.


290. Musangu upeda aakasolo (see 350).

(The god only give one chance.)


291. Musasa ngwalede tusiigwi waninwa mazyu (see 2).

(Never mess the mat on which you slept.)


292. Musimbi uzwa aaluzubo.

(A girl comes from the people you know.)

A good wife comes from the people whose background you know well.


293. Musinzo nguzi uyendelwa akankuli kaanzi.

(The distance you know well must be traveled with a gallon of water.)

A person who knows the possible difficulties found at a certain place /in a certain process will certainly arm him / herself with all the required things before going there.


294. Mutandwa kabili jongolo.

(You are chased away like a millipede.)

Persist where you want to get something. Even if you are turned

down or chased away ,just go back again until the people you are

dealing with sympathise with you.

295. Mute kamwi.

(Hinge on one problem.)

If you accuse someone , be focused in your accusation instead of

just piling a lot of tiny unnecessary complaints against them.


296. Mutonga umvwa lumwi.(see 202)

(A Tonga person understands once.)


297. Mutwe wanzoka nchiyoosyo.

(A snake’s head is a frightening measure.)

A man on a journey must carry a defensive weapon , however small ,

rather than travel empty handed . In any place where security is needed , install something to scare people / animals rather than leave the place unsecured


298. Muunzi nkaleba (see 369).

(A home is an axe.)

An old person in a home is the source of all wisdom.


299. Muzileke zilalyeepa.

(Leave them alone, they will sieve themselves.)

Leave complex issues alone , they will sort themselves out.


300. Muzipe malanzyo milomo isumike.

(Just look at the issues and shut the mouth.)

Do not say anything about the issue in question but just be silent and observe.


301. Muzuka ulya bwendeenda (see 455).

(A snake eats by moving around.)

Mobile people learn/ get different things as they move around .


302. Mvula tiyeti bulimo .

(Rain does not assist weeding).

Continuous drizzle makes weeding a problem .


303. Mwaalumi munyati .

(A man is a buffalo.)

Never underrate a man when fighting ,regardless of his size . He may kill you.


304. Mwaami bakamwiinzya nkuyu kaziyanda.

(A chief was denied figs while he needed them.)

Never assume that somebody is special to eat something .Give them whatever you have and they may like it.


305. Mwaami nkalemena balikule balaafwiifwii nchuuubawuba.

(A chief is feared most by his subordinates but his family members do not fear him.)

Bosses /presidents and other people in leadership positions are highly respected / feared by their subordinate but are not similarly respected by their family members.


306. mwaami wakiikumbila  mpande aamulanda.

(A chief asked for a badge from his servant.)

Nobody has everything . Even the very rich people lack some things and have to get them from poor people.





307. Mwana mulombe ndipwayila musenye.

(A man is useless in increasing members of his relatives.)

A man does not contribute to the increase of his relatives since he only bears children for his wife’s relatives. In Tonga culture children belong to the maternal family.


308. Mwana aamuntu takomezegelwi nsuma.

(Do not give another’s child a big morsel.)

Never care for another’s child better than yours because when children grow up ,they tend to go back to their parents while your child will remain with you and look after you.



309. Mwana mwaalumi mbaangwa, kufwa kwanondo nkulila kwachileba.

(That’s how a boy child is arrested ;the death of a tortoise is the striking of an axe.)

Never worry about a man being arrested .He is not going to be killed .


310. Mwana nchikumbizyo.

(A child is used when asking for something.)

Usually a mother hides behind the child when requesting something.

They always say the child wants this and that when in fact they are the ones who want it.


311. Mwana nguufwa  banyina banywa maanzi.

(A child dies and the mother drinks water.)

Even if your child /relative dies do not be very concerned but give yourself time to relax because death is not new .That way you will recover faster.


312. Mwana wanzoka ninzoka alakwe.

(A young one of a snake is a snake also.)

Never underrate a dangerous thing regardless of its size because it can harm /kill you.


313. Mwana ulililanyeele yabbonobono mumuleke imunyanine mujaanza .

(A child crying for a castor bean plant should be left alone for it to wilt in his / her hand.)

A youngster who ignores his /her parents in what they are saying about his / her lover ends up facing the problems they were being warned against .It’s usually too late for them to change .


314. Mwana wamulimi tatundwi popwe pati .

(It is no surprise for a child of a farmer to be holding a very big mealie cob.)

If it’s known that you have such and such a thing in abundance at your place ,no one will be surprised when you are seen carrying it. But if it’s known that you do not have that thing and you are seen carrying it ,it will raise a lot of suspicion .


315. Mwana wamwaami mulanda kuliimwi nyika (see 271).

(A son of a chief becomes a servant in an area outside his father’s chiefdom.)


316. Mwana wansya talilwidi mizimu njiimulwida .

(A young one of a buck does not fight but its ancestors fight for it.)

An innocent person is usually defended by his /her ancestors when accused of a certain crime.


317. Mwalidilwe ulimvwisya kukwiilisya .

(The owner of the funeral is easily identified by crying loudest.)

The organizer /owner of a function is easily identified by the way he /she runs around to attend to all necessary things while non-involved people relax.


318. Mweembezi nguuzi mpongo zyakwe nkuzichelela.

(The goats’ herder knows where his goats  are.)

The father at home ,bosses at work ,know exactly where their subordinates will be at any given time.

319. Mweembo ulizigwa nilyasika dilwe .

(A trumpet is sounded when the corpse arrives.)

Never rush to blame /kill yourself before you are really sure how bad things are. Wait and analyse the situation and act only when you have confirmed that things are bad.


320. Mweenzu usiya chisisi.

(A visitor leaves firewood .)

Sometimes a visitor helps the people he would have visited in a very special way. A visitor may buy his /her hosts something they cannot afford or do something great for them.


321. Mweenzu wafulwe ulalila bowa .

(A tortoise’s visitor eats mushrooms.)

A visitor must not be selective in terms of food .Just eat what your host eats and try your best not to cause problems.


322. Mwiminine kabati ngwaamujeya .

(Stand beside the dead animal so that you appear as if you are the killer.)

Never attach /align yourself to great achievements if you are the contribute to their accomplishment.