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Site Last Update: 09 Dec, 2019
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Luyia Proverbs
(from Kisa, Marama, Tsotso and Wanga)
By Tim Wambunya

London: Luyia Publishing Company, 2005.
60 pages.
ISBN: 996605009-4
£ 5.00 (including postage) from: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
300 Kenya Shillings in Kenyan bookshops

In this collection Tim Wambunya has managed to bring together 605 proverbs from four out of sixteen Luyia sub-tribes or dialects, i.e., Kisa, Marama, Tsotso, and Wanga. The proverbs are arranged in alphabetical order, starting with the original Luyia proverb as they are known and used by Luyia people. Each proverb is followed with a literal translation in English. For some of them suitable English translations could not be found.

Most of the proverbs concern the everyday life of around 3.5 million Luyia people living in western Kenya, north of Lake Victoria. The proverbs are mainly concerned with the environment, economic activities, belief, culture, tradition, and social life in general. The two following proverbs are provided as examples. NOTE: The reviewer has suggested the application.

No. 2 (page 7): Abafwa babula olutseshe luleera (BKE6) Literal translation: The dead have no clear drinking straw.
Application: There is life after death although it is not clear how people survive without eating and drinking. Reference to a Drinking straw does suggest the habit of drinking local brew as one of the habits amongst the Luyia. One can deduce from this proverb that Luyia believe in life after death. That is why they do not forget their tradition of drinking beer (or even eating food), but those who are still alive do not know how the dead drink.

No. 471 (page 48): Omwoyo omulayi kuchira walia eshifisire (HWA1)
Literal Translation: A good heart makes one get the hidden thing.
Application: This proverb can be used to encourage people to associate amicably with other people. In so doing one will learn and benefit in various ways -- bodily and spiritually.

Wambunya has succeeded remarkably in the preservation of the valuable heritage of these endangered African proverbs for the immediate and next generations. A general comment: there should be some stories or practical explanations of how each proverb is used in actual or concrete situations among the Luyia people.

J. P. Mbonde
P.O. Box 3479, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Retired Teacher, Commissar, Party Secretary, District Commissioner, Veteran Publisher/Editor, Author of Books, Graduate from Sydney University (Australia) and De Montfort University U.K, Freelance Journalist, Analyst and Educational Consultant.


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