Tonga Sayings, by Isaac Mumpande

This is the part titled "sayings" from Isaac Mumpandes Collection:




M1. Bafulwe ulobona batanta mumunsamu

(Tortoise can climb up a tree.)

What is being discussed in impossible.


M2. Busiku bwiinka/ bwayinzaana

(The night has gone.)

Time is running out.



M3. Chalima moya

(It farmed the air)

There is a bumper harvest.


M4. Chasambwa mbeba (see M124).

(The rat has bathed.)

Things have gone wrong- beyond repair


M5. Chazwa chalikumoyo

(What was at the heart has gone.)



M6. Chibukila mbuta.

(It awakes up at the up at a hiding place.)

An impulsive activity e.g., journey/meeting/appointment.


M7. Chiti choko ndibbende.

(What makes noise is a rat.)

Living pretty well without any problem in life



M8. Imvundununa bulusi.

(A thing that uncovers vomited things.)

A case that causes the offended to remember other crimes committed by the same offender against them.



M9. Kakusiya nkuya

(Let  it be dark where you are going.)

Wishing somebody bad luck.


M10. Kalya baninzi.

(What is eaten by closest relatives only.)

Something prepared for very few individuals, usually closest relatives and friends.



M11. Kuchita aagama achinia

(Doing things in a cheeky way.)

Doing something forcibly.


M12. Kudundilizya ingoma italili.

(Praising a drum that does not produce any sound.)

Praising somebody /something not worth praising.


M13. Kujata lumwensi

( Holding by the left hand)

Showing lack of commitment towards something.


M14. Kujata nkanchi ( see M15.)

( Handling by force.)

Doing things by force.


M15. Kujatwa kasusu ( see M45 / M91.)

( To be held by your hair).

Forced to do something by somebody/ circumstance.


M16. Kulanga chibende.

( Looking straight)

Fixing your eyes forward only without looking sideways.


M17. Kulangilana kukanio kanio.

( seeing each other through the tip of an eye.)

People hate each other.


M18. Kulala kule amulilo.

( Sleep far away from the fire.)

Thanking somebody very much.


M19. Kulasalala aamoyo.

(The heart is clear.)

One has a large appetite for food.


M20. Kulisonda lutaka.

(Throwing bones for bad luck.)

Trying your luck.


M21. Kulyuuma nkoli mumazwi.

( Striking oneself with a knobkerrie on your knee.)

Doing something bad against yourself unaware.


M22. Kumena nungu isalala.

(Swallowing a red bead.)

To be courageous.


M23. Kumoyo kwasiya.

(The heart is dark.)

One has small appetite.


M24. Kumoyo kwasuba.

(The heart has urinated.)

One is extremely angry.


M25. Kunjila kanchanchamvwe.

(Approaching somebody in a rough way.)

Someone whose approach is not diplomatic.


M26. Kupana maanza asokwe.

(Giving each other the hands of a baboon.)

Handing over what belongs to one another simultaneously.


M27. Kwasasa nkundalimbide.

(The side where I have been sleeping is stale.)

One has lost patience/changed one’s mind from good to bad.



M28. Lyamulya saka.

(Has been eaten by the forest)

One is lost.


M29. Lyandileka lyandijisi (see M47).

(What has been holding me has released me.)



M30. Malya bawumi.

(long life)

Things will be ripe/considered in the future.


M31. Mbona basiko.

(Seen by the lucky ones.)

One who is very rare.


M32. Mbulimo bwakuseni.

(It is a morning cultivation.)

Something very easy to do/accomplish.


M33. Menyo aamunkala.

(It is a dog teeth.)

Smiling at someone while you hate him/her.


M34. Meso aalanga.

(Mere eyes that see.)

One who is useless/of no benefit.


M35. Mbuuya bunenga.

(Generosity that cuts.)

Something done for you by your enemy but done as a bait to kill/capture you.


M36. Munyonwa kuchito.

(One who is turned from the ford.)

One who does not listen to advise.


M37. Mupati bbala

(Merely old by name.)

One whose character is childish.


M38. Mwaamba chimwi achamugwe.

(Saying the same thing with chamugwe.)

Things are identical.

M39. Mwanja wakazyalana.

(The cassava has multiplied.)

There are many gentlemen/ladies not yet married, therefore there are is no reason why somebody should tie themselves to one person who is troubling them.


M40. Mwiini uutatululiki /uutadonkoleki.

(An axe handle difficult to pierce.)

A person who is not sociable.




M41. Nchiyuni chifwa amafutaaacho.

(A bird that dies with its fats.)

A stupid person who does not take precautions where they are needed.


M42. Ndaabona aansi.

(I have seen the earth’s surface.)

One is in big problem.


M43. Ndalya mazyu aamubwa.

(I have eaten the dog’s faeces.)

One is pleading for clemency.


M44. Ndaba ngubo nsuke.

(I have become a tattered pierce of cloth.)

One is extremely tired.


M45. Ndafundilwa kusule mbuuli muswi (see M15).

(I have been opened from the back like a fish.)


M46. Ndafutukila aabbuli lyangubo (see M52)

(I have been rescued by a heap of clothes.)

One had a narrow escape.


M47. Ndamukamba mujaanza mutakwe boya (see M29).

( I have clapped my hands that have no fur.)

One is extremely surprised by what has happened.


M48. Ndamunywa kanchoncho.

(I drank him/her in a teaspoon.)

One has seen all sorts of bad things about somebody.


M49. Ndamupa mpande amukoba wayo.

(I have given him a crown and its handle.)

One has enriched somebody.


M50. Ndanyonka aampwizi.

(I have suckled from a young female animal.)

One is not satisfied, needs more food.


M51. Ndaswida kate aajongolo.

(I have spat saliva on a millipede.)

One is vowing not to repeat the issue in question again.

Usually said by somebody surviving a disaster.



M52. Ndazwa mumulomo wadavu (see M46)

( I have come from a lion’s mouth.)

One had a narrow escape.


M53. Ndeenda muyalali.

(I have travelled in a slippery one.)

One had a nice journey.


M54. Ndibbotya bweebe.

(It only appears good.)

Somebody beautiful/handsome but with a bad character.


M55. Ndifuba chenjezu.

( A clever person.)

One who appears foolish but is very clever and wise.


M56. Ndijokola bunchoko (see M57)

(She pricks the copper wire.)

A loose women.


M57.Ndisekela nzila (see M56).

(One who laughs for the path.)

A loose women.


M58. Ndisongola bukankamina.

( Relieves pain and also inflicts more pain.)

One who pretends to be assisting but will be putting you in more problems.


M59. Ndisumu liyaka mulilo.

(He is spear that glows fire.)

A person who when angry becomes uncontrollable and is also a disciplinarian.


M60. Ndoolya kongiingi.

(I will eat at Ngiingi’s mother.)

One denies an offer because one thinks one will get a similar offer ahead.


M61. Ndwa bukandu .

(Fight cowardly.)

A married man who when he is annoyed by another man, tends to vent his anger on his wife.


M62. Ngumutwisya koonse-koonse.

(He/she is a pestle that pounds both sides.)

A person who is double sided .Such people make people fight by getting information from one side and taking it to the other side.


M63. Ngumwiingile amubwa.

(They are a warthog and a dog .)

They are enemies .


M64. Nkabanda keenda.

(A mobile grave .)

A person who is very frail or is so ill that he /she can die any time .


M65. Nkamputu mukutwi.

(One is a fly in an ear.)

A troublesome person .

M66. Nkele kapya kumbali.

(Porridge that is hot at the edges .)

One thinks something is very easy when in fact it’s very difficult.



M67. Nkoobeka moyo .

(Soften the heart .)

Food/water that is too small /little for one to be satisfied.


M68. Nkujatila aabula .

(Handling by the stomach .)

One is carrying a lot of things /items usually holding them by the stomach.


M69. Nkujeya muntu uuzyana .

(It’s killing a witch.)

A person who ,even when beaten ,gives no sign of feeling the pain being inflicted upon them .


M70. Nkukunkulisya nchili amunkuuni.

(It’s rolling a mortar down a slope )

Initiating something that quickly gets support from the second side without struggling to convince them.


M71. Nkulimba bwe .

(It’s putting one stone on top of the other.)

Taking advantage of something .


M72. Nkulitwida akulisebela.

(Pounding and sieving for oneself.)

Doing everything for oneself without anybody to assist one.


M73. Nkulumina luchiso .

(Stringing just to inflict pain.)

Killing somebody /doing something bad to someone without any benefit from the whole venture .


M74. Nkuupala moyo .

(Scratching the heart.)

Being very patient .


M75. Nkwaambila bwe.

(Talking to the stone .)

A person who does not listen to advice.



M76. Sikweendela dala .

(One who walks for an ilala.)

One travels a long distance but does not get what they wanted .


M77. Simeso meso.

(One with a lot of eyes .)

A promiscuous person.




M78. Taakwe nkwasalilwa mbuto.

(There is nowhere where you can select them as seeds.)

A person without any good aspect to his /her character.


M79. Tadinkilwi nsete.

A person of no nonsense.


M80. Takunywigwi maanzi .

(There is no time to drink water.)

A very busy schedule.


M81. Takwitwi uumvwa.

(Where one with ears is not called.)

People are enjoying themselves .


M82. Talikwezyi keele.

(He /she does not scratch a pimple. )

A very lazy person.


M83. Talili bbuyu .

(Does not cry for a baobab fruit.)

A very protective parent/ individual who wishes  death could take him /her instead of the person who has died.


M84. Tanjili kalambwa kache.

(He does not get into a small pool.)

Belittles whatever he/she is given.


M85. Tatolwi kubweenzu .

(He/ she is not taken for a visit.)

One who has an embarrassing behaviour .


M86. Tatondeezegwi mabelo (see 132).

(He /she is not shown thighs.)

A person who when partially assisted asks for full support from the person who assisted them .


M87. Tayeeyelwi aakulya .

(He / she is not supposed to be remembered when one is eating.)

A person who behaves unspeakable badly.


M88. Tayubwi aawe .

(You cannot hide together with him /her .)

An untrustworthy person.


M89. Tujatane mbuuli masusu amutwe.

(Holding each other like the head and hair .)

Being united.


M90. Tuuli mwiini walyo (see 15).

(It’s not its handle.)


M91. Tuyoobonana kukavu kasalala.

(We shall see each other at the red soil.)

Enemies who do not want to see each other until death.


M92. Twabampongo zilyeembela.

(We are goats that look after themselves.)

People who fend for themselves .


M93. Tweende bukache .

(let’s go until it’s dawn.)

Let’s continue with the battle and see who will be the loser at the end of the day.




M94. Ubwene kalongo bukololo.

(He / she sees a pot with grains .)

Someone is reluctant to work for themselves / grab opportunities as they come because they already have somewhere to get help.


M95. Uchijaanina kumaanzi mafwi .

(One rushes to shallow water.)

A person who goes for easy targets .


M96. Ulaagonka.

(A very short-tempered person.)


M97. Ulaakaleleele (see M98).


M98. Ulaakanwa (see M97).

(A person who like provoking people to fight.)


M99. Ulaalweendo lwamufwi

(Has a journey for the short man.)

Walks very slowly


M100. Ulaanio

(Has an anus.)

A stingy person.


M101. Ulaabukali bwambulu

(Has the courage of a lizard.)

One has a fake courage


M102. Ulakubona kulangwa (see M125).

(You will see where to look.)

You will suffer.


M103. Ulalabila na kamunonga?

(Does he taste that in a clay pot.)

Is the patient still sexually active?


M104. Ulalibonena kumazwido kumabbilili pe.

(You will see it rise but never see it set down.)

One wants to kill you.


M105. Ulamoyo dapwi (see M 106).

(Has an unsettled heart.)


M106. Ulamoyo wabbende (see M105).

(Has a heart of a rat.)

A person who does not keep secrets.




M107. Ulamuzimu uupwaya mbuyu.

(Has ancestral spirits that crush the baobab tree fruit seeds.)

All efforts made by someone to improve his/her life are unsuccessful.


M108. Ulandibbazya nguboonzi.

(What kind of cloth are you going to use to trap me.)

A person does not how they will be helped but they need help.


M109. Ulowachela maani kuchimpayuma

(You will fetch mopane tree leaves from the desert.)

One is being threatened with a difficulty that is coming.


 M110. Uloyeeyela kukapepe kan’onzi / mukeja kansya.

(You will remember in your sleep.)

One will regret.


M111. Ulya aanga ulya munsamu wamachende.

(You eat as if you eat medicine for testicles.)

One eats as if they will not need food again tomorrow.


M112. Ulya mulilo masizi ulabulula.

(Eats fire and coughs out charcoal.)

One who when he/she gets angry, becomes uncontrollable.


M113. Ukkede aalimwi tako.

(One is seated with one buttock.)

Somebody who is not settled where he/she is staying because of certain problems.


M114. Unia matete.

(Defecates fresh faeces)

Somebody is still alive.


M115. Unoolya twamweenzi twamudima pe.

(You will eat during the moonlight, not during the darkness.)

One is being threatened with not being given favours because of discipline.


M116. Unjila mbuuli mwiingile.

(one gets into a house like a warthog.)

A person who does not construct/make his/her own structure/thing but tends to depend on what others have already made/constructed.


M117. Unjizya mumulindi uulibukwazi.

(make one get into an empty hole.)

One is a cheat.


M118. Uyoofwa kalikwezya aakasamu.

(One will die scratching oneself with a stick.)

One is childless.




M119. Waamba abusimbi (see M148).

( You have said it in a maiden way.)

One has said exactly what was supposed to be said.



M120. Wabbala mwana aajwa.

(Has strapped a jwa’s child.)

One is operating with a troublesome person who will now and again come to trouble her/him.


M121. Waboola njitalemi.

(Has come back with a light thing.)

One has come back without the thing he had gone for.


M122. Wabuleka wabukwete (see M4).

(The bride has divorced.)

Things have gone wrong.


M123. Wakabonaanga bweeni bwinda (see M156).

(One thought it was a temporary friendship.)

One thought that things would continue being easy but they turned difficult and sour.


M124. Wakalya nkamaba tulye.

( He eat a nkamba tulye.)

A cheeky person.


M125. Wakamyonta kakokola (See M102).

( One has licked their elbow.)


M126. Wakaza aakanyaala.

A new administrator who is very strict, cruel, and rough towards his/her subordinates.


M127. Wakomena lume.

( Has grown like dew.)

One is rushing for adulthood before the time comes.


M128. Walya nteme zyasinzala.

(One has eaten a hungry man’s nteme fruits.)

One is dealing with a troublesome person.


M129. Wamena aakujulu.

(Has grown teeth on the upper jaw.)

One has abruptly changed one’s mind from positive to negative.


M130. Wamulelela aamupa (see M135)

(One has handled somebody on the loin cloth.)

One is failing to discipline somebody.


M131. Wamulya mulandu.

(One has been eaten by a crime.)

One has been proven guilty.


M132. Wamupa kanwe uyanda kuboko koonse (see 86).

(If you give him/them a finger they want the whole hand.)

One who when partially assisted demands full support.


M133. Wamweembezya matu (see 132).

(Is looking after him/her with tree leaves.)

One is not strict with somebody.




M134. Wandigonka mawulu.

(One has cut my legs.)

Somebody made my journey short.


M135. Wandilala lumwi.

(One has slept with me once.)

You have cheated me once and for all, you will never cheat me again.


M136. Wandilya kano kano.

(Has eaten me foot to foot.)

Somebody is following a person wherever he/she goes.


M137. Wandipa denka-denka

(Has given me weakness.)

A person has made you distrust them through their bad behaviour.


M138. Wandiyokela kayuni.

(Has roasted a bird for me.)

One has put a bad spell on me.


M139. Wandiza aamunwe amunwe.

(Has approached me finger by finger.)

Bit by bit one dragged me into a fight from a small talk.


M140. Waselusya mwana sokwe.

(The baboon has let its child descend.)

People are relaxed because their boss/a strict person is not there.


M141. Wasinka kuzwida buswa.

(Has closed where the ants come from.)

One has wronged the source of help.


M142. Waswaya matongo.

(One has visited ruins.)

One has not found the people intended to be visited.


M143. Watambula gubo lyasuntwe.

(One has accepted a hyena’s cloth.)

He has accepted a pregnancy that is not his.


M144. Watanguna kumena katanyela pe.

(One has started swallowing before one chews.)

One has made a crucial decision before one has thought about it thoroughly.


M145. Watema kasamu kamwinkilila.

(One has chopped a stick for going forever.)

One has delayed coming back from where one has gone or has gone away forever.


M146. Watucheba musangu.

(The god has looked us.)

People are fortune.


M147. Wayasa nondo muliso.

(Has pricked the tortoise in the eyes.)

One has said exactly what was supposed to be said.


M148. Wayindilila aanga mupa wakunsi.

(Has protruded like a woman’s front pierce of cloth.)

One is continuously misbehaving without anybody disciplining one.


M149. Weenda aabbezya bbezya.

(Has gone unnoticed.)

Leaving people without bidding goodbye.


M150. Weenda azyamuchija manzi.

(One has gone by the path of water.)

One is avoiding a place/spot by going round it.


M151. Weenda bweembya (see M149).

(Has gone unnoticed.)


M152. Weenda musamba julu.

(Has travelled high in the clouds.)

One travelled safely up to one’s destination.


M153. Weendela kule.

(Has travelled from afar.)

One has found people finished eating food and there is no other food left.


M154. Weendela silili.

(One has travelled from nothing.)

What one has travelled for did not materialize.


M155. Witaanga nkudonkola kumatwi.

(He/she thought it’s making a hole in the ear.)

One thinks that what one is doing /intends to do is very easy.




M156. Yakaba nkuna yabalemu.

(H/she has become an adult’s private parts.)

A person who is very rare.


M157. Yazemba aakasisi (nzala)

(Hunger is playing with firewood.)

There is great starvation.



M158. Zilikumpela aamatwi (see M 159)

(They are at the end of an ear.)

A person is not concentrating on what is being done/said by other people is not around him/her. Also when somebody does not understand what is being said even if they are concentrating on the issue.


M159. Zili koondilyoli (see M 158).

(They are at the chindyoli tree.)


M160. Zyakeeta mukosi.

(They brought necks)

Things are in abundance.



M161. Zyalilila aamwi.

(They have cried at the same time.)

Things or events have occurred at the same time.


M162. Zyamubbanta malakwinya (see M163)

(They have sealed his/her throat.)

They are just quiet because what has happened embarrasses them. (usually said to people who laugh at others when they make mistakes.)


M163. Zyamusinina maanzi (see 162).

(They have strangled him/her in water.)


M164. Zyasullilana ntanda amweezi.

(The moon and the star have puffed at each other.)

Former friends are now enemies.


M165. Zyeenda mugubo-mugubo.

(They have moved very fast.)

Wares on sale have been bought/are being bought very quickly.




Below are the Tonga names found in the italicised literal translations of these proverbs. They are in normal type, I have tried to define them as I could not get equivalent English version for them.


Bachimba…………………….      a totem found among the Tonga people.

Bbonga……………………….      a wild tuber and climber plant which is edible.

Baleya………………………..      a totem found among the Tonga people.

Chamugwe…………………..      exactly the same.

Chibamba ……………………      name of a person who lived long back.

Chindyoli …………………….      a tree whose leaves are used make telele (relish)

Choolobwe …………………..      name of a person who lived long back.

Donga ………………………..      a big river.

Goloondo …………………….     name of a person who lived long back.

Jwa ……………………………     name of a difficult person who lived long back.

Kabwata ………………………    name of a person who lived long back.

Malungo ………………………     name of a person who lived long back.

Mbubu ………………………..     a wild fruit that taste sour, round in shape and green when raw,  

then brownish when ripe.

Mbula …………………………     a fruit that smells, found in mountainous places.

Mibundu ………………………    ridges.

Moomba ………………………    big black rain birds that red faces, They make a noise after the


Nteme …………………………   a yellow fruit with a hard shell favoured by baboons.

Ntumbula …………………….    small round wild fruit found in thorny plants.

Ngiingi ………………………..    name of a person who lived long back.

Ntondo ………………………..    a yellow tasteless fruit.

N’anga ………………………..    a traditional healer.

N’anza ………………………..    name of a person who lived long back.

Sonsoolo ……………………..     a very cowardly small animal which is only brave when near its      


Syatamulanga ……………….     He who does not look at something.

Tembo ………………………..     a place which was known for having lots of bullfrogs.

Zungula ………………………      a tree whose fruits dangle dangerously as if they will fall but they

are strongly attached to the mother.