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 Collection of, and Commentary on, 436 Sayings on East African Cloth (Misemo Kwenye Khanga na Vitenge vya Afrika Mashariki)



Collected and edited by Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.

Revised 25 July, 2005

Collection of, and Commentary on, 436 Sayings on East African Cloth (Misemo Kwenye Khanga na Vitenge vya Afrika Mashariki)

I. Introduction and Commentary

An East African khanga (also spelled “kanga” after the Swahili name of the common speckled guinea fowl) is a rectangle of pure cotton cloth with a border all around it and printed in bold designs and bright colors. This cotton print is as long as a person’s outstretched arm and wide enough to cover from neck to knee, or from waist to toe. Khangas are often bought in pairs and are usually worn in a most attractive and useful way. Most traditional outfits require a matched or unmatched pair. One piece is worn tucked in just above the breasts, reaching down to the ankles. The other piece is worn over both shoulders, or over one shoulder, or over the head. Women also use khangas to cover other clothes and to carry their young children on their backs. Khangas are also used as tablecloths and decorative wall hangings. NOTE: Many Swahili words are taken from Arabic originals beginning with the sound “kh“.

Khangas use a variety of messages -- African sayings, idioms, proverbs, slogans, mottos, expressions, idioms and riddles in Swahili and English. Usually the message/saying is printed on the bottom middle of the cloth. These sayings must be understood in their cultural and social contexts. It is important to understand that many of the sayings are intended to be a commentary on the lives of East African women and their complex relationships. Many of the sayings are messages (hidden/coded or otherwise) that women communicate to each other. Once worn, khangas are "charged with meaning." Khangas have messages pointing in many directions. Sometime these messages are translated per the occasion and sometime the same meaning remains all the time.

The manner in which Swahili is used in seemingly idiosyncratic and occasionally confounding ways on many of the Kenyan and Tanzanian khangas makes them all the more interesting as contemporary mirrors of culture, values, social issues, etc., not to mention the way in which they reflect the wonderful plasticity of the Swahili language.

More recent East African khangas also contain informational and educational messages.

A. History of Khangas

Khangas originated on the coast of East Africa in the mid 19th century. As the story goes, some stylish ladies in Zanzibar got the idea of buying printed kerchiefs in lengths of six, from the bolt of cotton cloth from which kerchiefs were usually cut off and sold singly. Then they cut the six into two lengths of three, and sewed these together along one side to make 3-by-2 sheet. Or they bought different kinds of kerchiefs and sewed them back together to form very individualistic designs.

The new design was called "leso" after the kerchief squares that had originally been brought to Africa by Portuguese traders. The leso quickly became more popular than the other kind of patterned cloth available. Before long, enterprising coastal shopkeepers sent away for special designs, printed like the six-together leso pieces, but as a single unit of cloth.

These early designs probably had a border and a pattern of white spots on a dark background. The buyers (or more likely, their men folk!) quickly came to call these cloths "KANGA" after the noisy, sociable guinea fowl with its elegant spotty plumage.

Khanga designs have evolved over the years, from simple spots and borders to a huge variety of elaborate patterns of every conceivable motif and color. For a century, khangas were mostly designed and printed in India, the Far East and Europe. Even today, you will see khangas that were printed in China or Japan. But since the 1950's, more and more khangas have been designed and printed in Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries in Africa. Each khanga has a number listed as Design No. "So and So." that allows one to roughly date it. The numbers are now in the thousands.

Early in the 20th century, Swahili sayings were added to khangas. Supposedly this fashion was started by a locally famous trader in Mombasa, Kenya named Kaderdina Hajee Essak, also known as "Abdulla." His many khanga designs, formerly distinguished by the mark "K.H.E. -- Mali [“wealth or property” in Swahili] ya Abdulla", often included a proverb. At first, the sayings, aphorisms or slogans were printed in Arabic script, later in Roman letters. Many of them have the added charm (or frustration!) of being obscure or ambiguous in their meaning. If you find a motto that you can't figure out, ask several different Swahili speakers. You will get an equal number of different explanations! Edited from “The History of Kanga” in Kangas -- 101 Uses by Jeannette Hanby with drawings by David Bygott (Nairobi, Kenya: Kibuyu Partners, 1984). See also "Kanga History" in The Krazy Book of Kangas by Pascal Bogaert (Zanzibar: The Gallery Publications, 2002).

B. Khangas Popular With Youth

The following are the English translations (alphabetically) of some of the Swahili sayings on khangas that are popular with youth in urban areas in East Africa:

1. Education is an ocean (that is, it has no end).

2. Good luck begins in the morning.

3. How did you know this if you did not go behind my back?

4. If you give to me, I will receive; I am not used to begging.

5. If you said it wouldn’t happen why has it happened?

6. I knew you would say it. (Used after a relationship gets out into the open)

7. I’m not jealous; I just feel bad.

8. Let it happen whatever might be. (Used by a friend when you lose your boy friend or girl friend)

9. Lover turn off the light. The original Swahili is Shemeji zima taa and is based on an old popular song entitled Shemeji Shemeji Mwazima Taa by the Cuban Mirimba Band of Morogoro, Tanzania. (Used especially by youthful hooligans and “toughs”)

10. The messenger is not killed. (Used in passing messages in love affairs)

11. The patient person eats ripe fruit.

12. Spend money recklessly. (Used by youth after getting their monthly salary)

13. Thank you for your good deeds to me.

14. There is no guardian like a mother.

15. There is no secret between two people.

16. To give is something of the heart, not riches.

17. To keep complaining won't help. (Used by one girl in talking to another girl after

taking away her boy friend; also used by boys in a similar situation)

18. You are not a loving person; you don't remember good deeds. (Used especially by girls)

19. You will die poor if you rely on relatives.

20. You will exhaust the butcheries while all meat tastes the same. (This crude expression is what one boy says to another boy who is “playing around”)

21. You will get hurt by talking behind other people’s backs.

In analyzing these sayings and proverbs a clear pattern emerges. As several young people in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania explained to me, many of these expressions concern love affairs and problems in boy-girl relationships – jealousy, envy, hatred, a young couple breaking up, a young couple coming back together again, etc.


C. Vitenge

The kitenge (the plural is “vitenge”) is the other type of colorful East African cotton cloth with many designs. It usually is a higher quality printed cloth than the khanga. It also is worn by women as a wrap. It also uses various informational messages mainly dealing with celebrations, anniversaries, jubilees, meetings, advocacy (political campaigning), deaths, etc. One writer pointed out: "Below or above the central motif a motto, proverb, health warning, or party political slogan is printed, combining image and text, and serving as a valuable source of information."

II. List of 436 Sayings on Khangas and Vitenge

Our Research Committees in Bujora (Mwanza), Dar es Salaam, Musoma, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya have systematically collected a list of 436 sayings on khangas and vitenge. The examples are listed alphabetically (first, the original Swahili and then the English translation – usually the literal translation, but sometimes the figurative translation). Many of these sayings are also used on T-shirts, posters, banners, drawings, greeting cards, woven baskets, mats, umbrellas, caps, ties, and scarves as well as on the back or sides of taxis, minibuses and trucks, etc.

1. "Acha kukuna makovu ya mende."

"Stop scratching the cockroach's scars." (Literal meaning)

"Let bygones be bygones." "Leave old wounds alone; it's time to move on." (Figurative meaning)

2. "Acheni nyodo kila mtu na bahati yake."

"Forget about effort, each person has his or her luck."

3. “Adui mpende.”

"Love your enemy.”

4. “Adui ni mdomo wako."

"Your lips are your enemy."

5. "Akiba haiozi."

"Savings never go bad" or "A reserve does not decay."

6. "Akili ni mali."

"Brains (wits) are wealth."

7. "Akipenda chongo huita kengeza."

"A person in love with a one-eyed person calls her/him 'cross-eyed.'"

8. "Akufukuzae hakwambii toka."

"A person who wants you out of her or his place will not tell you, 'Get out!'"

9. "Alaa! Kumbe!"

"Wow!" or "I see!! That is so!"

10. "Amani, Upendo, Umoja"

"Peace, Love, Unity"

11. "AMECEA Celebrating the African Synod in Nairobi with John Paul II – Sept. 1995"

(English only)

12. “AMECEA – Mzazi wa Jumuiya Ndogo Ndogo. Karibu Tanzania 2002.”

AMECEA – Parent of Small Christian Communities. Welcome to Tanzania. 2002.”

AMECEA Celebrations. 40th Welcome to Tanzania. 40th”

13. “Anayechekea kovu ya mwingine hajajeruhiwa bado.”

The person who laughs at another’s scar has not been wounded yet.”

14. "Apendaye halipizi."

"The one who loves does not take revenge."

15. “Asante sana kwa wema ulionitendea.”

Thank you for your good deeds to me.”

16. “Asante mama kwa malezi yako.”

Thank you Mother for your care.”

17. “Asasi ya Wanawake Katoliki.”

Catholic Women Organization.”

18. “Asiyekujua hakuthamini.”

He or she who doesn't know you, doesn't value you.”

19. “Asubuhi na mapema wacheni kunisema.”

"Stop speaking against me from even very early in the morning."

20. "Atakae hachoki."

"A person in need never gets tired."

21. "Awamu ya pili."

"The second round."

22. “Baada ya dhiki, faraja.”

After hardship comes relief.”

23. “Baba wa Taifa, Mkombozi wa Afrika: 1922-1999. Pumzika kwa amani.”

Father of the Nation, Savior of Africa: 1922-1999. Rest in peace.”

24. "Bahati haina hodi."

"Luck doesn't give a warning sign."

25.”Bahati yangu huwezi kuziba; amenipa Mungu wala sikuiba.”

  “My luck can’t be stolen. God gave it to me. I didn’t steal it.”

26.”Bakhita -- Canonization: October 1.

Jubilaeum 2000: Christ Yesterday, Today, Forever.”

(English only)

27. “Baraka zitasimama tukimsahau mama.

"Blessings will stop if we forget Mother.”

28.”Beauty of Africa.”

(English only)

29. "Bienheureux Daniel Comboni – Un Prophet pour Afrique.” (French)

"Blessed Daniel Comboni – A Prophet for Africa."

30. "Bila jasho huishi."

"You don't live without working."

31. “Bora maisha; mengine ni majaliwa.”

Life is the best gift; the rest is extra.”

32. "Bure mnanichukia, bahati nimejaliwa.”

You hate me in vain, I'm blessed with luck."

33. “Buriani Baba wa Taifa Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere 1922--1999

Farewell (and remain at peace) Father of the Nation Teacher J.K. Nyerere 1922--1999”

34.”CCM Mwaka Mmoja.”

One Year of CCM”


35. “Celebrate the African Synod in Nairobi with John Paul II – Sept. 1995”

Sherehekea Sinodi ya Afrika mjini Nairobi na Papa Yohane Paulo II –Sept 1995.”

36. "Chakubimbi ni vishawishi ukimpuuza hakutishi.”

"Chakubimbi (the rumor monger) is a temptation. But if you disregard/make light of

him or her, then he or she can’t frighten you.”

37. "Chakubimbi ukimuona muogope."

"If you see Chakubimbi (the rumor monger) stay away from him."

38. "Chakukupa sina ila nakuombea dua."

"I have nothing to give you except to pray for you."

39. “Cha kukupa sina ila nakuombea salama.”

"I have nothing to give you except to pray for your well being.”

40. "Chakupewa hakina nyongeza."

"The freeloader can't ever get too much."

41. "Chama cha Mapinduzi."

"Revolutionary Party."

42. “Cheka nao lakini si wema kwako.”

Laugh with them, but it’s not good for you.”

43. "Chema hakidumu."

"A good thing never lasts."

44. "Christ in Our Community -- Kanisa Katoliki Kenya"

"Christ in Our Community -- the Kenyan Catholic Church"

45. “Chuki binafsi tuziache.”

Let’s drop personal hatred.”

46. “Chuki nichukie moyo wangu niachie.

I should let go of the hatred I detest in my heart.”

47. "Dawa ya homa ni quinini, dawa ya ubaya ni nini?"

"The medicine of malaria is quinine. What is the medicine for wickedness?"

48. "Dhuluma si njema."

"Oppression isn't good."

49. “Dunia duara.”

The earth is round.”

50. "Dunia ni maarifa."

"The world is knowledge."


51. "Dunia ni matembezi."

"The world is walking around."

52. “Duniani kuna pepo wawili.”

There are two spirits on earth”

53. “Ee Mungu tunakukushuru.”

Oh God, we thank you.”

54. “Ee Mwenyezi Mungu, nipe moyo wa subira.”

Oh Almighty God, give me a heart of patience.”

55. “Ee Mwenyezi nipe moyo wa uvumilivu.”

Oh Almighty God give me a heart that endures.”

56. "Ekaristi Takatifu ishara ya umoja na kifungo cha upendo."

Holy Eucharist is a sign of unity and bond of love.”

57. “Elimu ni bahari.”

Education is an ocean (that is, it has no end).”

58. “Ewe, Baba Yetu. Uwe mwaka wa baraka kwetu.”

Oh, our Father. May this be a year full of blessings for us.”

59. “Fikiri sana maradhi.”

Think seriously about diseases.”

60. “Fimbo la mnyonge halina nguvu.”

Might is right.”

61. "Fitina hasidi wa mtaa."

"Discord ruins the neighborhood."


62. "Fitina ni sumu baridi."

"Jealousy is cold poison."

63. “Fuata nyuki ule asali.”

If you want to eat honey follow the bees.”

64. “Furaha ya harusi ni kupendana.”

The joy of a wedding is to love one another.”

65. "Furaha ya Idd." Shukuru Mola."

"Joy of Idd. Thank God."

66. "Furaha ya Jamhuri."

"Joy of Independence."

67. "Furaha ya maisha ni upendo.”

Love is the joy of life.”

68. "Furaha yako ni furaha yangu."

"Your joy is my joy."

69. "A good ship depends on the captain".

(English only)

70. “Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba.”

Little and little, fills the measure.”

71. “Hakika ninakupenda”

Certainly I love you.”

72. “Haki za watoto kwanza.”

Children’s rights first.”

73. “Haki zetu leo.”

Our rights today.”

74. “Hakuna matata. I’m lost in Africa.”

No problem. Even though I’m lost in Africa I’m in my home.”

75. "Hakuna mlezi kama mama."

"There's no guardian like a Mother."

76. “Halahala mti na macho.”

Beware a stick and your eyes.” (A caution against impending danger)

77.”Hapa ni breki kiboko cha wanafiki.”

This is the hard end against the hypocrites.”

78. "Hapa umefika."

"This is the place you are looking for."

79. "Hapana siri ya watu wawili."

"There is no secret between two people."

80. "Harufu yako yaburudisha moyo wangu.”

Your pleasant scent soothes my heart.”

81. “Hasidi tunae mwaka huu.”

We have somebody jealous or envious this year.”

82. “Hata aibu huoni kutwa kelele na majirani."

"You should feel ashamed about your quarrelsome behavior."

83. "Hata mkiweka kampeni kwake nimepoa."

"Even if you try to win him away I'm not worried."

84. "Hata tamu hukinai."

"Even sweet things have their limits." (We get satisfied even by sweet things)

85. “Hata ukinichukia la kweli nitakwambia.”

Even if you dislike me, I will tell you the truth.”

86. “Hasira za mkizi tijara ya mvuvi.”

The anger of a cuttlefish is the benefit for the fisher folk.”

87. “He is risen. Jesus the Savior.”

Amefufuka. Yesu mwokozi.”

88. "Heri liwe roho ziwatuwe."

"Let it happen so that your souls can settle down." (Literal meaning)

"Happiness is a soul that forces one to settle down." (Figurative meaning)

89. "Heri nyuki kuliko chuki."

"Better a bee bite than hatred."

90. "Heri pazia kuliko bendera."

"Better a still curtain than a flag blowing in the wind"

91. "Heri ya Krismas na Mwaka Mpya."

"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

92. “Hidaya ulionipa mlezi sitolisahau.”

I will never forget the precious gift that you have given to me, that is, your care for me.”


93. "Hifadhi utamaduni wetu."

"Preserve our culture."

94. "His blood has saved the world from sin."

(English only)

95. “Hodi hodi na idome mwaka ujao naolewa." 

Let things pass; next year I‘ll get married.”

96. "Hodi kwa fulani. Kumbe una jambo."

"Paying a visit for spying purposes."

97. "Hongera mkulima wa chai."

"Congratulations hardworking tea farmer." (Give praise where praise is due)

98. "Hongera Rais Mwinyi kushinda uchaguzi."

"Congratulations President Mwinyi on winning the election."

99. “Hongera sana!”

Many congratulations.”

100. "Huba huna na hisani hukumbuki."

"You are not a loving person; you don't remember good deeds."

101. "I am not jealous, but God will decide what I should get."

(English only)

102. “Ijapo nimatendeo yote namuachia Mola.”

Although many bad things have been done to me, I leave everything to God.”

103. “Ingawa tumeachana yaliobaki ni mazoea.”

Even though we have separated our past shared experiences live on.”

104. "Japo mnyonge sijirahisishi."

"Even though I am a simple person I will not lower myself."


105. "Japo sipendezi kubembeleza siwezi."

"Even though I am not beautiful, I won't be permissive."

106. "Jawabu nataka kwako."

"I would like an answer from you."

107. “Jeuri yako haina kifani.”

Your rudeness is incompatible.”

108. “Jogoo wa shamba ha[li]wiki mjini.”

The cock in the countryside does not crow in town”

109. "Jubilee AD 2000"

Jubilei KK 2000”

110. "Jubilee 2000 AD: Christ Yesterday, Today, Forever."

Jubilei 2000 KK: Kristu Jana, Leo, Milele.”

111. "Jubilei – miaka 25. Parokia ya Moyo Mtakatifu wa Yesu – Manzese.”

Jubilee – 25 years. Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus – Manzese.”

112. "Kama hujui hapa umefika."

"If you don't know this place you have arrived."

113. "Kama majungu ungekuwa mtaji, wengi tungetajirika."

"If backbiting were financial capital, everyone would be rich."

114. “Kama msemaji mbona yako husemi.”

If you are a real talker, why don’t you talk about yourself?”

115. “Kanga nenda na urembo, shani urembo na shani.”

The kanga struts in style, surprisingly stylish and smart.”

116. "Karibu mgeni."

"The visitor is welcome."

117. "Karibu mgeni wetu – Tanzania – 1990."

"Our visitor is welcome – Tanzania – 1990."

118. "Karibu mpenzi.”

Welcome my darling.”

119. "Karibu wangu muhibu.”

Welcome my darling.”


120. "Karibuni Bibi na Bwana Harusi.”

Welcome to the Bride and Groom.”

121. "Karibuni mtembelee mbuga zetu."

"Come and visit our plains and their wild animals."

122."Karibuni wageni."

"The visitors are welcome." or “Welcome to the visitors."

123. “Kasheshe unalijua unalisikia?”

Do you know of "kasheshe" or you just hear about it?”

124. "Kawia ufike."

"Better delay and get there."

125. “Kazi ni kipimo cha utu.”

Work is the measure of a person.”

126. "Khanga ujirigisha na urembo wake, nunua vaa kwa utabasamu”

"A khanga attracts for its decoration and design so buy and wear it with flamboyance."

127. "Kidogo sio kidogo."

"A little is enough.”

128. “Kifaranga kisimamacho kando ya mama yake kinapata paja la panzi.”

The chick that stands by its mother gets the thigh of the grasshopper.”

129. "Kikapu cha mama kimejaa ndago."

"The mother's basket is filled with nut grass."

130. “Kikulacho kinguoni mwako.”

That ‘eats’ you up is inside your clothes” (that is, what is closest to you).”

131. "Kila jema halikosi sifa njema.”

Every good thing does not lack its proper praise.”

132. "Kila jambo jema hutoka kwa Mungu.”

Every good thing comes from God.”

133. "Kila shetani ana mbuyu wake."

"Each devil has its own place."

134. "Kila uonalo wasema, na hili pia useme."

"Everything you see you talk about, so talk about this too."


135. "Kitamu huliwa kwa hamu."

"Delicious food is eaten with great desire."

136. "Kombe la Mungu li wazi."

"God's cup is open."

137. “Kongamano la Walei 2000: Kristo Jana, Leo, Daima.”

Lay Congress 2000: Christ, Yesterday, Today, Forever.”

138. "Kristo Jana, Leo, Daima.”

"Christ, Yesterday, Today, Forever.”


139. "Kristo Jana, Leo, Daima: Jubilei Miaka 2000 ya Ukristo"

"Christ, Yesterday, Today, Forever: 2000 Year Jubilee of Christianity."

140. "Kucheza tucheze ushoga kazi."

"We can play together, but when it comes to intimate relationships, it's not easy."

141. “Kufa kufaana.”

Death is not without its advantages.”(that is, it benefits those who inherit).

142. "Kuinamako ndiko kuinukako."

"You stretch where it is bent."

143. "Kuishi kwingi kuona mengi."

"To live a long time is to see much."

144. “Kula hakuna ndugu.”

Eating is for everyone; it is not just a family affair.”

145. "Kula jasho lako duniani."

"Eat what comes from your work."

146. “Kulekeza si kufuma.”

To aim is not to hit.”

147. “Kuleya mimba si kazi. Kazi ni kuleya mwana.”

Getting pregnant isn’t work. The work is to raise the child.”

148. “Kumla nguru si kazi, kazi kumwosha.”

It is no trouble to eat a kingfish, the trouble lies in washing it.”

149. "Kumpa mwenzio si kutupa."

"To give is to save, that is, not to throw away."

150. “Kumpenda Mungu na kushirki amri zake.”

To love God and cooperate with his commandments.”

151. "Kupata mume kijana sio kupata mtoto."

"To get a youthful husband is not to get a child."

152. "Kupata na kukosa kwangu, wewe kunakuhusu nini."

"Whether I get it or miss it is not your business."

153. “Kupata si kwa werevu na kukosa si ujinga.”

Getting is not cleverness and lacking is not stupidity.”

154. “Kupendana ni baraka.”

To love each other is a blessing.”

155. "Kutoa ni moyo si utajiri."

"To give is something of the heart, not riches."

156. “Kuzaa ni furaha. Kulea na afya ya mama, je?”

To give birth is a joy. But what about raising the child together and the health of the


157. "Kwangu kafatia raha za dunia."

"He or she has come to my side for worldly pleasure."

158. “Kwa upendo kutoka Afrika.”

With love from Africa.”

159. “Kwa wewe sibabaiki wala sishituki.”

"To you I can neither be confused nor be scared."

160. “Leo ni leo.”

Today is today.”

161. “Leo ni siku ya furaha."

"Today is a joyful day."

162. "Leta raha."

"Bring the joy."

163. "Liwalo na liwe."

"Let it happen whatever might be."

164. “Liya na tabia yako usilaumu wenzako.”

Do not blame others for problems you have created yourself.”

165. "Machoni ni rafiki, moyoni mnafiki."

"Friends by eyesight, but in the heart you are a hypocrite."

166. "Mahaba yanikondesha nimpendae simuoni."

"Love causes me to grow thin; I can't find the one I love."

167. "Maisha ni karata."

"Life is a card game."

168. “Majonzi tunayo Tanzania (Mwaka 1922-1999).”

We have deep sorrow in Tanzania (Year 1922-1999).”

169. “Mali ya mwenzio sio yako.”

Your friend’s wealth is not yours.”

170. “Mama mume nimemkuta ubaoni na kuku mweupe.”

The mother-in-law resorts to witchcraft to alienate her son from his wife.”

171. “Mama nibariki, Mungu anizidishie.”

Mother bless me so that God will give me more.”

172. "Mama ni malkia; thamani yake haina kifani.”

The mother is a queen; her value is inestimable.”

173. “Mama ni mfalme hana mfano duniani.”

A Mother is like a king without any parallel in the world.”

(“A Mother’s greatness can’t be compared to anything else in the world”).

174. "Mama ni nambari wani; hana mpinzani."

"Mother is number one; she has no one against her."

175. "Mama nipe radhi."

"Mother give me a blessing."

176. "Mama, nipe radhi. Kuishi na watu ni kazi."

"Mother, give me a blessing; it is not easy to live with people."

177. “Mama, sina cha kulipa zaidi ya shukrani.”

Mother, I don’t have anything to pay you except thanks.”

178. "Maneno yako mazuri, vitendo vyako hatari."

"What you say is the opposite of what you do."

179. “Mapendo huhitaji imani na wema.”

"Love needs faith and kindness."

180. (Map of Africa with the names and flags of all the countries).

(English only)

181. “Marashi ya Pemba.”

Perfume of Pemba”

182. "Maudhi siyajali naogopa hatari."

"I don't mind about small afflictions; what I am afraid of are the real dangers."

183. “Maziwa wa mama ni tamu.”

A mother’s milk is sweet.”

184. “Mbona kununua chakula dukani ukiwa nyama nyumbani?”

Why go shopping for food when you have meat at home." (Literal meaning)

Why sleep with a prostitute when you have your wife at home." (Figurative meaning)

185. “Mchagua jembe si mkulima.”

The one who chooses a hoe is not a farmer.”


186. “Mbolea mzuri ni kivuli cha mwenyewe.”

"The best fertilizer is the shadow of the owner."

187. “Mdhaniaye ndiye kumbe siye.”

The one whom you think is the right one is the wrong one.”

188. "Meli imetia nanga naja roho zawa tanga."

"Since I have come, everybody is worried." (figurative translation)

189. "Mhesabu visa pendo haliwezi."

"Whoever counts the mistakes of his or her friend can never love."


190. “Miaka kumi ya Azimio la Arusha.”

Ten Years of the Arusha Declaration.”

191. "Miaka 10 ya Uhuru."

"Ten years of independence.

192. “Milenia – Kheri ya Karne Mpya.”

Millennium – Blessings on the New Century.”


193. "Mimi na wangu na wewe na wako chuki ya nini."

"I have my wife. You have your wife. Why should we hate each other?"

194. "Mimi na wewe mpaka kufa.”

Me and you together until death.”

195. “Mimi ni mkate wa uzima. Ekaristi na Maadili.”

I am the bread of life. The Eucharist and Ethics.”

196. “Mimi ni shina sibabaishwi na matawi.”

I am a stem. I’m not bothered by the branches.”

197. "Mimi ni wako."

"I am yours."

198. “Mja ni mwenye kushukuru.”

The newcomer is the person to thank.”

199. “Mjumbe hana kosa.”

The messenger has no fault.”

200. “Mjumbe hauwawi.”

The messenger is not killed.”

201. “Mke bora ni tuzo wema la mume.”

A fine wife is a husband’s good pillar.”

202. “Mke mwema pambo la nyumba.”

A good wife is a home's adornment.”

203. “Mke ni mume.”

The wife is the husband.” (Literal meaning)

"The couple are married." (Figurative meaning)

204. “Mke wa nyumbani ni mwangaza wa chumbani.”

The wife is the bedroom’s light.”

205. “Mkimbizi ni binadamu siyo tatizo.”

A refugee is a person not a problem.”

206. "Mlisema hayawi mbona yamekuwa?"

"If you said it wouldn't happen why has it happened?"

207. “Mola atayamaliza wala sina wasiwasi.”

I am not worried because God is going to take care of everything.”

208. “Mola tutilie nuru na baraka.”

God provide light and blessing for us.”

209. "Moyo usio na shukrani hukosa yote."

"The ungrateful heart loses all."

210. "Moyo wa Yesu ni kitulizo cha matatizo yangu.”

The heart of Jesus is the consolation for my problems.”


211. "Moyo wa kupenda hauna subira."

"The loving heart can't wait."

212. "Moyo wa subira haufanyi ghira."

"The patient heart does not hurry."

213. "Moyo wangu wamtukuza Bwana.”

My heart praises the Lord.”

214. “Mpaji ni Mungu.”

God is the Sustainer.”

215. “Mpende akupendae.”

Love the one who loves you.”

216. “Mshonaji hachagui nguo.”

The tailor does not choose the cloth.”

217. “Mshukuru Mungu kwa kila jambo.”

Thank God for everything.”

218. “Mshukuru Mungu mengi kakutendea.”

Thank God for the many things he has done for you.”

219. “Mso hili ana lile.”

A person missing this has that.”

220. “Mstahimilivu hula mbivu."

The patient person eats ripe fruit."

221. “Mtachuna migongo yenu kwa kusengenya wenzenu.”

You will get hurt by talking behind other people’s backs.”

222. “Mtaka yote hukosa yote.”

One who wants all usually loses all.”

223. “Mtangulize Mungu kwa kila jambo.”

Put God first in everything.”

224. "Mti mkubwa ukianguka, ndege huhangaika."

"If a big tree falls, the birds get anxious."


225. "Mti si pori."

"One tree does not make a forest."

226. ”Mtoto kwa mzazi hakui.”

A child never grows up to his or her parent.”

227. ”Mtoto umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo.”

The way you raise a child is what he or she will grow to be.”

228. “Mtumaini cha ndugu hufa maskini.”

You will die poor if you rely on relatives.”

229. “Mtu mwenye mdomo mkubwa huwezi kupata mume.”

Somebody with a big mouth can never get a husband.”

230. ”Mungu akupe heri daima.”

May God bless you always.”

231. "Mungu ibariki Afrika."

"God bless Africa."

232. "Mungu kanipangia ya nini kunichukia.”

Since God has planned for me why should you hate me.”

233. "Mungu ni muweza wa yote."

"God is almighty."

234. ”Muomba Mungu hakosi fungu lake.”

The one who asks God does not miss God’s offer.”

235. “Mvumbika mbichi hula mbivu.”

He who preserves unripe fruit eats it when ripe. (See “patience is a virtue”)

236. "Mvumilivu hula mbivu."

The patient person eats ripe fruit."

237. “Mvuvi anajua pweza alipo.”

The fisherperson knows where the cuttlefish/octopus are.”

238. “Mwacha mila ni mtumwa.”

Whoever drops his or her culture is a slave.”

239. “Mwamini Mungu.”

Believe in God.”

240. "Mwana asiyesikia mzigo usimtue."

"Don't help the child who doesn't feel the burden of his load."

241. "Mwanzo mgumu."

"The beginning is hard."

242. “Mwenda pole hajikwai.”

The person who goes slowly doesn’t stub his or her toe.”

243. "Mwenye bahati hakosi riziki."

"The lucky person doesn't miss out on the necessities of life."

244. "Mwenye kusubiri hakosi."

"One who waits does not miss." (Literal meaning)

"Patience brings blessing." (Figurative meaning)

245. ”Mwenye shamba katu hafi njaa."

A farmer will never go hungry.”

246. "Mwezi wa furaha umeandama."

"The month of joy has begun."

247. "Mzizi sio jadi kupendwa ni bahati."

"Using a love potion is not my custom. To be loved is just luck."

248. “Naipenda Afrika.”

I love Africa.”

249. “Naipenda Tanzania.”

I Love Tanzania.”

250. “Naishi kidaktari.”

I’m living like a doctor (that is, being careful).”

251. "Nalia mwewe kumbe hasidi na wewe."

"I cry out the hawk; the jealous person is you."

252. "Nani kama mama."

"A mother is incomparable." or “Who can be compared to a mother.”

253. ”Naogopa kuzaliwa siogopi kuchukiwa.”

I am afraid to be born, I am not afraid to be carried away (by death).”

254. ”Naogopa simba na meno yake, siogopi mtu kwa maneno yake.”

I fear the lion for its jaws, I do not fear a person for his or her words.”

255. "Nategemea bahati yangu situmaini cha mtu."

"I depend on my good fortune. I don't rely on anybody else."

256. “Natafakari myasemayo mwisho nawapa vidonge vyenu.”

I’m hearing your gossip; finally I’ll tell you the truth.”

257. “Natule asali tumwache nyuki na ukali wake.”

Let’s enjoy the honey and ignore the bee and its sting.”

258. "Ndege tulia tunduni usinitie udhuni."

"Bird, stay in quietly in your nest; don't give me sadness by moving about."

259. “Ndovu wawili wakisongana, ziumiazo ni nyika.”

When elephants jostle, what gets hurt is the grass.”

260. "Neno jema ni ua la moyo."

"A kind word is a flower to the heart."

261. "Ni hili au una jengine."

"Is it this one or do you have another?"

262. “Ni hivi hivi duniani.”

That’s the way it is in the world.”

263. “Nikinyamaza mnasema nikisema napo taabu.”

If I am silent you say that when I speak trouble is just there.”

264. “Nilidhani jirani kumbe fisadi mtaani.”

I though you were a good neighbor while you were just a spoiler.”

265. “Nilijua mtasema.”

I knew you would say it.”

266. “Nilipenda tabia sio sura.”

I liked the character not the outward appearance.”

267. "Nimekuja kutembea, sikuja kwa umbea."

"I am here for a walk, not to gossip.”

268. “Nimependa moyoni, rohoni sitasahau.”

Because I love in my heart, I won’t forget in my mind.”

269. “Nimesafisha moyo wangu, sina kinyongo wala chuki."

"I have cleaned my heart, I've no grudge nor resentment."

270. "Ni mimi wako."

"I am yours."

271. "Nitaishi naye kwa raha na taabu.”

I will live with you in good times and bad.”

272. “Nitakukumbuka kwa wema ulinitendea.”

I will remember you for the good that you have done for me.”

273. "Nitunze nipendeze waigizao (waigao) wasiweze."

"If you care for me I will look so beautiful that no one can imitate me."

(Cherish me so that I can be nourished)

274. "Ni vigumu kujua yalio moyoni"

It’s hard to know what’s in the heart.”

275. "Nizako zabibu kula taratibu."

"The vines are yours, so eat slowly."

276. “Njia ya mwongo fupi.”

The way of the liar is short.”

277. "Nyota njema huonekana asubuhi."

"Good luck begins in the morning."


278. “Nyuki mkali kwa asali yake.”

The bee fiercely guards its honey.”

279. “Nyumba hii ndipo mahali palipozaliwa azimio 1967-1977.”

This house is indeed the place where the declaration of 1967-1977 was born.”

280. “Nyumba yangu kuu ina mlango mdogo.”

My large house has a small door.”

281. “Nyumba yenye upendo haikosi bahati.”

A home that has love does not lack good luck.”

282. "Pambo la ngoma vifijo."

"A dance is decorated by cheering."

283. "Pamoja nimezarau lakini sitasahau."

"I have scorned all the things that have gone before but I will not forget."

284. “Parokia ya Mtakatifu Fransisko Ksaveri. Kristu jana, leo, daima.”

St. Francis Xavier Parish. Christ – yesterday, today, forever.”

285. "Parr! Hata Makka."

"Fly even up to Mecca."

286. "Pasipowasha hunyea."

"If it does not irritate, it gets swollen."

287. “Peace with justice is everything.”

Amani na haki hufungamana.”

288. “Pekepeke za jirani, hazinitoi ndani”

Unwarranted spying by a neighbor does not take me out of my house.”

289. “Pendo huleta baraka nyumbani.”

Love brings blessings to the home.”

290. “Penye nia ipo njia.”

Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

291. “Penzi la mama haliishi.”

A mother’s love does not end.”

292. "Penzi ni ua, halitaki jua.”

"Love is a flower, it doesn't need the sun."

293. “Piga ngoma siyo mtoto.”

Beat a drum not a child.”

294. “Pima ufaidike.”

Examine well that you may profit accordingly.”

295. "Poa roho yako. Mimi ni wako peke yako."

"'Cool' your soul (that is, don't worry). I am yours and yours alone"

296. “Pokea zawadi ya (Noeli) Krismas.”

Receive a Christmas gift.”

297. “Pole sana.”

Very sorry.”

298. "Ponda mali kufa kwaja."

"Spend money recklessly."

299. “Rabi nipe baraka nipate ninalolitaka.”

Lord bless me so that I may get what I need.”

300. “Radhi ni bora kuliko mali.”

Blessings are better than possessions.”

301. "Rafiki machoni unafiki moyo."

"A friend to the eye, hypocrisy in the heart."


302. "Raha ya dunia ni amani na upendo."

"The happiness on earth is peace and love."

303. “Riziki ya mtu hupangwa na Mungu.”

One’s fortunes are planned by God.”

304. "Saba Saba 1989."

"Saba Saba [Celebrations] 1989."

305. ”Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thy Kingdom Come.”

(English only)

306. "Salamu tupu sitaki."

"I don't want empty greetings."

307. “Sema usemayo mitaani, ni wangu ninae ndani.”

You can say and do what you like, but I have your son in my house.”

308. "Serengeti na Ngorogoro, Tanzania – Jubileo ya Almasi (1921-1981)"

"Serengeti & Ngorogoro, Tanzania Diamond Jubilee (1921-1981)"

309. "Shemeji zima taa."

"Lover turn off the light."


310. "Shika ya wazazi upate radhi."

"Obey your parents and you will be blessed."

311. "Shilingi ya ua ni maua."

"The beauty of a flower is the flowers around it." (Meaning: A thing is valued in

comparison to other things)

312. "Shingo huvaa chombo, roho huvaa mambo."

"The neck wears something, the soul wears virtues."


313. “Shoka husahau, mti hausahau.”

The axe forgets but the tree doesn’t forget.”

314. "Si hayo tu, mengi mtayasema.”

Not only those, but you will talk about many.”

315. "Si hoja sura bora vitendo."

"Beauty is nothing; it is actions that count."

316. "Sijitii kiwewe nikupendae ni wewe."

"I don't pretend to bring confusion; it is you whom I love."

317. "Sikulipi bali nimekutunukia."

"I am not paying; on the contrary, I have given you a present."

318. “Sikusudi ni tabia.”

It’s not the intention or purpose, but the personal character that counts.”

319. "Sina tamaa."

"I don't have desires."

320. “Sinodi Mwanza. Mwanzo Mpya.”

Mwanza Synod. New Beginning.”

321. “Sinodi ya Kwanza. Kueni Katika Amani. Jubileo ya Dhahabu ya Jimbo la Mbulu.”

The First Synod. Live in peace. A Diamond Jubilee of Mbulu Diocese.”

322. "Siri ya nyumbani usitoe njiani."

"Don't spread around outside secrets from inside the house."

323. “Sisemi mengi jibu utalipata.”

I don’t speak much. You will get the answer.”

324. “Sisi sote ni abiria dereva ni Mungu.”

In this world we are all passengers; God is the driver.”

325. “Sitaki lulu wala fedha nataka mapenzi yako tu kama utayaweza.”

If you are able give me your love, not your material possessions.”

326. "Sitishiki wala sibabaiki; maneno yako si mkuki."

"I am not terrified nor am I perplexed; your words are not a spear."

327. "Situmai uzuri wangu ninatumai bahati yangu."

"I count on my luck rather than my beauty."

328. “Songea: Miaka 100 Umisionari Peramiho 1898--1998.”

Songea: 100 Years of Mission Peramiho 1898--1998.”

329. ”Sote tu abiria dereva ni Mungu.”

We are all passengers; God is the driver.”

330. “Staha yetu ni heshima kwa watoto wetu.”

Our respect is honor for our children.”

331. "Tabia njema ndiyo mwanzo wa hekima.”

"Good character is indeed the beginning of wisdom.”

332. "Tabia njema ni silaha yako."

"Good behavior is your defense (best weapon)."


333. "Tafadhali nionee huruma."

"Please have pity on me."

334. “Tamu ya mua kifundo.”

Sugarcane is sweetest at the joint.”

335. "Tamaa si asili yangu. Naridhika na ridhika yangu.”

Greed is not core concern. I am satisfied and it is my contentment."

336. "Tamaa sina."

"I don't have any ambition or greediness."

337. “Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda.”

(English only)

338. “Tanzania – the Warm Heart of Africa.”

(English only)

339. “Tanzania nakupenda kwa moyo wote.”

Tanzania I love you with all my heart.”

340. "Tanzania Tea/Chai Authority."

(English only)

341. "Tembea uone mengi."

"Walk around to get knowledge." or "Those who travel see much."


342. “Thamani ya Mwanamke ni zaidi kuliko ya kito.”

The price of a woman is above rubies.”

343. “Titi la mama ni tamu.”

A mother’s milk is best.

344. "Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children."

(English only)

345. “Tudumishe usia wa Baba wa Taifa.”

Let us make permanent (perpetuate) the advice of the Father of the Nation.”

346. “Tukae kwa usalama kusiwe na uhasama.

Let’s live harmoniously without any backbiting.”

347. “Tukae tuishi wazuri haweshi.”

A couple should live in harmony as beauties are born every day.”

348. "Tumkumbuke Mungu kila siku.”

Let us remember God every day.”

349. "Tumkirimu mgeni."

"We should be kind to the visitor."

350. “Tumpende Mungu na kushika amri zake.”

Let’s love God and obey his laws.”

351. "Tunaipenda Africa yetu."

"We love our Africa."


352. "Tuombeane kheri."

"Let's pray for each other’s happiness.”

353. "Tuombeane kheri – mpaji ni Mungu."

"Let's pray for each other's happiness – the gift giver is God.”

354. "Tupendane kwa moyo mmoja.”

Let’s love each other with one heart.”

355. "Tupendane waache wabaya waulizane."

"Let's love each other and leave bad people to gossip."

356. "Tusali rosari na Papa Yohane Paulo II. Tuombe amani na familia.”

"Let's pray the rosary with Pope John Paul II. "Let's pray for peace with the family.”

357. "Tusherehekee miaka 25 ya uhuru."

"Let's celebrate 25 years of freedom."

358. "Tusisahau kuhesabiwa 28 Agosti 1988.

"We shouldn't forget to be counted on 28 August 1988."

359. "Tusitengane tufikirie watoto."

"Let us stay together for the sake of children."

360. "Tuyatatue ni yetu matatizo."

"Let us solve these problems ourselves, because they are our own."


361. "Ua la moyo."

"Flower of the heart."

362. “Uchungu wa mwana aujuae mama.”

The mother knows the pain of her child.”

363. "Ujinga una mambo maskini najuta."

"Stupidity has problems, poor me I'm regretting."

364. "Ukinipa nitapokea. Kuomba sikuzoea."

"If you give to me, I will receive. I am not used to asking/begging."

365. "Ukinipamba nitapendeza."

"If you decorate me I will be pleasing (beautiful)."

366. "Ukipata chungu kipya usitupe cha zamani."

"If you get a new pot, don't throw away the old pot."

367. "Ukipata shukuru."

" If you get something, be thankful."

368. "Ukipenda boga upende na ua lake.”

If you like the pumpkin you should like its flowers.” (Meaning: If you marry again you

should love your spouse’s children too)

369. "Ukipenda waridi uvumilie miiba."

"If you like roses you have to endure their thorns."

370. "Ukiona mishale nyayo ziko nyuma."

"If you see arrows then the (hunters') footsteps are behind."

371. "Ukisamehewa na mama umesamehewa na Mola.”

If you are forgiven by your Mother, you are forgiven by God.”

372. "Ukisikia neno niulize."

"If you hear anything about me, ask me."

373. "Ukoma huwa unapona."

"Leprosy usually heals in time."

374. ”Ukweli ukidhihiri uongo hujitenga.”

Where there is truth, lies disappear.”

375. "Ulikuja ukanikuta utaondoka uniache."

"You are a passerby. You found me here and you will leave me here."

376. "Ulijuwajee kama si umbea.”

How did you know this if you did not go behind my back?”

377. "Uliyemtia moyoni ni taabu kumtoa."

"It is painful to lose the one you truly love."

378. "Umejipendekeza mwisho umechoka."

"If you are always doing things to show off, you will eventually get tired."

379. "Umoja ni nguvu; utengano ni udhaifu."

"Unity is strength; division is weakness."

380. "Undugu kupendana na kupendana undugu."

"Brotherhood and sisterhood is loving one another and loving one another is brotherhood and sisterhood."


381. “Upate Furaha, Wema, Na Baraka.”

May you receive joy, goodness and blessing.”

382. “Upendo huhitaji imani na wema.”

Love needs faith and kindness.”

383. “Ushinde na utawale – moyo safi wa Bikira Maria.”

You conquer and you reign – Immaculate heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

384. “Usiache mbachao.”

Don’t give away an old mat.”

385. “Usiache mbachao kwa msala upitao.”

Don’t give away an old mat for a temporary one.”

386. "Usibishane na mpumbavu."

"You shouldn't argue with a fool."

387. "Usidhani nimesahau wema wako; cha kukulipa sina.”

Don’t think that I have forgotten your goodness; it’s just that I have nothing to pay you.”

388. “Usinione nimecheka moyoni nimekuweka.”

Don’t think that I am laughing at you; I hold you close in my heart.”

389. "Usinionee wivu ni bahati yangu."

"Don't feel jealous of me; it's my luck."

390. "Usinisahau."

Don’t forget me.”

391. ”Usinisumbue.”

Don’t bother me.”

392. "Usinitilie vikwazo mapigo yangu huyawezi."

"Don't put obstacles in my way, you can't handle my blows."

393. "Usione kukonda ukadhani kwetu sili."

"When I lose weight it doesn't mean that I'm not fed well at home."

394. "Usipende kwa pupa utakujanitupa."

"Don't love me on the site; you will end up hating me."

395. "Usipoziba ufa utajenga ukuta."

"If you don't fill up a crack you will build a wall."

396. "Usiseme yote mengine bakisha."

"Don't say everything, spare some."

397. "Usishangae kusema ni kilema chao."

"Don't be surprised with their gossip; it is their weakness."

398. ”Usisherekee vita, ukalia amani.”

Don’t celebrate war, cry for peace.”

399. "Usisikie ya kuambiwa."

"Don't listen to what other people are telling you."

400. “Utamaliza mabucha nyama ni ile ile.”

You will exhaust the butcheries while all meat tastes the same.” (Note: This is a message to a wayward partner)

401. "Utanichoka hasidi."

"You will be tired with me, you jealous person."


402. "Uwongo wa mwenye nyumba si ukweli wa mpita njia."

"The lies of the landlord are better than the truth of the passerby."

403. “Uzinduzi wa Parokia ya Sinza 1997”

Official Opening of Sinza Parish 1997”

404. "Uzuri wa Afrika."

"The beauty of Africa."

405. "Uzuri wa mke ni tabia si sura."

"The beauty of a wife is her character not her appearance.”

406. ”Vidole vitano – kipi ni bora?”

Of five fingers, which is the best?”

407. "Vituko vyenu nimevizoea sasa navipuuzia."

"I am used to your trouble making, but now I don't care."

408. “Waja hawasemi.”

They come, but they don’t say.”

409. ”Wajigamba una nini?”

Poor as you are, what are you boasting about?”


410. ”Wakerekao shauri zao watakufa siku si zao.”

Those who are too concerned about their own problems will die at a time that is not of

their own making.”

411. "Wanafiki wana vikwao vyao."

"Hypocrites have their own places."


412. "Wanafiki wanafiki vikwao."

"Hypocrites accept their way."

413. "Waniitaje shangingi nawe ulitoka huko."

"Why despise me; you too came out from the same place." (Literal meaning)

"How can you call me 'shangingi' (a woman who lives off the gifts of several men in exchange for sexual favors) when you come from the same place?" (Figurative meaning)

414. “Waongo mtaani mola atawalani.”

God will rule over the liars in the marketplace.”

415. "Wapiganapo tembo nyasi huumia."

"When elephants fight the grass gets hurt."

416. ”Watanzania tumuenzi Baba wa Taifa.”

Tanzanians, let us honor the Father of the Nation.”

417. “Watoto wana haki ya kufurahia maisha.”

Children have a right to enjoy life.”

418. "Watu kwa amani."

"People of (or for) peace."

419. “WAWATA (Wanawake Wakatoliki Tanzania) – Kwa Upendo wa Kristu Tutumikie.”

Catholic Women of Tanzania – For the Love of Christ Let Us Serve.”

420. ”Wazee ni hazina.”

Parents are a treasure.”

421. "Wema wako ni ukumbusho hatutasahau milele.”

"Your kindness is a remembrance; we'll never ever forget."

422. “Wewe ni wangu tu.”

You are mine only.”

423. “Wengi wachunguzi lakini wewe kiongozi.”

There are many shepherds but you are the leader.”


424. "Wewe ulie tu."

"To keep complaining won't help."

425. "Wivu sina moyo unaniuma."

"I'm not jealous; I just feel bad."

426. "Wote ni wana. Ubaguzi wa nini."

"We are all brothers and sisters. Why is there discrimination? "

427. "Ya kwako du ya wenzako midomo juu?"

"Why should you talk about others' weaknesses instead of yours?”

428. "Ya rabi tupe salama."

"Lord grant us peace."

429. "Yataka moyo."

"[Marriage] needs patience."

430. “Yenu mnaweka moyoni ya wenzenu mitaani.”

You keep your bad things in your heart, but you circulate the bad things of other people.”

431. "Yenu moyoni ya wenzenu mdomoni.”

"You hide in the heart your own [weaknesses], but you gossip about other people."

432. "Yote ni matawi shina ni mimi."

"All are branches. I am the root." (Meaning: The legally married woman is the root. The rest of the women/wives are branches to the man.)

433. "Zawadi gani nimpe Mama?”

What type of gift should I give my Mother?”

434. "Zawadi ni zawadi."

"A gift is a gift."

435. "Zawadi ni zawadi, usichoke kupokea."

"A gift is a gift; don't get tired of receiving."

436. “Zimalize zako ari sishituki moyo wangu.”

I won’t be surprised by anything that you do.”

NOTE: Special thanks for helping to collect these sayings and to make the translations goes to: Gertrude Amandus, Emmanuel Chacha, Joseph Kariuki, Irene Namukwaya Kessy, William Lubimbi, Joseph Lupande, John Mbonde, Virginia Njeri, and Donald Sybertz. John Mbonde was particularly helpful in making the English translations.


More background information on and explanations of these proverbs, sayings and other types of African Oral Literature are found in Chapter One entitled “Towards an African Narrative Theology of Inculturation,” especially the sections on "Oral Literature as a Source of an African Narrative Theology of Inculturation" and "Research Methodology Used in Collecting and Interpreting African Oral Literature," in the following book: Joseph G. Healey M.M. and Donald F. Sybertz, M.M., Towards An African Narrative Theology (Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 4th Reprint 2005) and Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 5th Printing 2004), 400 pages. See also the article Joseph G. Healey M.M., “You Faked Me Out: Sayings of East African Urban Youth” in Wajibu (Volume 14, No. 1, 1999), pages 2-4 that is reprinted in Social and Religious Concerns of East Africa: A Wajibu Anthology (Washington. DC: University Press of America, 2005).

Additional information on “Sayings on East African Cloth” (“Misemo Kwenye Khanga za Afrika Mashariki”) including other relevant links can be found on the

African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website 

Two special links are:

    "Kanga Writings." A list of 143 sayings on the "khanga" (East African Cloth): Original Swahili, Literal English Translation and Most Common Meaning.

    "History of Kanga." A short history of the "khanga" (East African Cloth) and a list of 26 uses.

A recent search on the Google Search Engine <> for "khanga" revealed 6,200 results or hits.

Additional paper copies of this list of sayings are available from:

Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M. Research Committee

Maryknoll Society Makoko Language School

P.O. Box 867 P.O. Box 298

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Musoma, Tanzania

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Rev. Nicasius Sandu

Bujora Cultural Centre

P.O. Box 76

Mwanza, Tanzania

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Collected and edited by Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.

Revised Internet Version as of 25 July, 2005