“Ilu bu mmanu ndi Igbo ji iri okwu” the above statement which translates as “Proverb is the oil that Igbos use to embellish their words” couldn’t be better said when describing the Igbo people of Southeast, Nigeria and their oratory skill. In this articles we will highlight 35 Igbo proverbs, that is related to our everyday life.
The Igbos are one of the three major tribes in Nigeria and also the most resilient. Their business acumen is famed far and wide and so is their oratory skill too.
The Igbos take so much pride in their oratory skill, and their language. It is not an Igbo gathering if one or two proverbs have not been exchanged. The importance of proverb in the Igbo traditional society is one well embodied in this Igbo saying “Onye aturu ilu kowara ya, ego eji luo nne ya lara n’ihi” meaning “a child that fails to understand a proverb is considered an affront to the mother.
It is not just the complex meaning of the Igbo proverbs but the different flavors it adds to conversations, speeches etc, it has a way of drawing in a listener and passing a vital message at the same time.
Here are the top Igbo proverbs and their meanings.
Top 35 Igbo proverbs
1. Ihe nile na-amuke amuke abughi olaedo: All that glitters is not goId.
2. Emee ngwangwa emeghara odachi: A stitch in time saves nine
3. Aka nri kwoo aka ekpe, aka ekpe akwoo aka nri: One good turn deserves another.
4. Ukwa ruo oge ya odaa: There is time for everything
5. Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu: Salute the deaf, if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will hear.
6. Onye ndidi n’eri azu ukpoo: He who laughs last laughs best
7. Oji nwayoo anaghi emeru ahu: Slow and steady wins the race
8. Nwata bulie nna ya elu, ogodo awuchie ya anya: Every choice has a consequence
9. Ihe agwo muru aghaghi idi ogologo: An Apple never falls far from the tree
10. Aka aja aja na-ebute onu mmanu mmanu: When you work hard, you enjoy life
11. Eze puo, eze anochie: When a King leaves, another takes his place
12. Isi kote ebu o gbaa ya: He who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind
13. Onye kwe chi ya ekwe: Where there is a will there is always a way
14. Aka oru mmadu ka eji ama ya: A craftsman is known by his tools
15. I chiri aka iri wunye n’onu: Jack of all trades, master of none
16. Onye n’ egwu egwu nwa okuko n’ete akpala ya: He that plays dirty should get ready to be soiled
17. A ma ka mmiri si were baa n’opi ugboguru: Who knows how water entered into the stalk of the pumpkin?
18. Ihe onye metara o buru: what you sow is what you reap
19. Ihe aki ilu n’ada na nti abughi ihe o na ato n’onu: The sound of a food does not determine it’s sweetness
20. Ihe o bula nwere mbido nwere nkwusi: Every beginning has an end
21. Abuo di mma karia otu: Two heads are better
22. Oge a naghi eche mmadu: Time and tide waits for nobody
23. Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo, umuaka achiri ya hie nku: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood
24. Ihe e zutere n’ohi na-ala n’ohi: Whatever one obtains by crooked means leaves ones (his/her) possession by crooked means
25. Anu bu uzo na-anu mmiri oma: The early bird catches the worm
26. Ijiji na-enweghi onye ndumodu na-eso ozu ala n’inyi: A fly that has no counselor follows the corpse to the grave.
27. Anaghi enye oke azu ka odebe: Do not set the fox to mind the geese
28. O gbara uru a gbaghi Oghom: Grasp all, loose all
29. Ihe ojoo na-eso n’ ahiri: Bad things come in rows
30. Anaghi ama onye amuma n’ala be nna ya: A great man is not recognised amongst his own kin
31. A naghi ekpuchi afo ime aka: Nothing is hidden under the sun
32. Uwa na-eme ntughari: No condition is permanent.
33. Otu mkpisi aka ruta mmanu o ezuo ora: One bad apple spoils the whole branch.
34. Onye si na ya anaghi ata anu nkita, ya erikwala mmiri ofe ya: He who abhors dog meat should not eat dog-meat soup.
35. Añyukoo amiri onu, ya gbaa ofufu: Unity is strength.