10 Burundian Proverbs

Amani ya Juu has a center in the small African country of Burundi, where over 40 women sew and create wonderful products as they strive to become agents of peace. We’d like to share a few proverbs from this country that you can take with you into the new year!

Proverbs can be used in numerous ways, such as to identify and shape a culture, instill morals, advise and warn, and teach a society its code of conduct. It is interesting to look up various proverbs from different countries and ethnic groups, noticing the similarities and differences between them.

burundi proverb

Sometimes proverbs can be difficult to interpret due to cultural and language barriers, but other times the meaning of a proverb can be relatively easy to decipher. There is a Burundian proverb that says, “If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building, or do you change the nail?”  This proverb can be interpreted to mean that you shouldn’t let a mishap or a hurdle stop you from completing your goals. A fault in your plan may require you to alter the way in which you get to the finish line, but it does not mean that you should drop out of the race. The following are ten other Burundian proverbs, what are your interpretations of them?

  1. Where there is love there is no darkness.
  2. Too many words blacken your ears.
  3. The fetus that is afraid of criticism is never born.
  4. Without effort no harvest will be abundant.
  5. You cannot hide the smoke of the hut you set on fire.
  6. A rich man who does not know himself is worth less than a poor man who does.
  7. Don’t tell any more fairy tales when the child has gone to sleep.
  8. If you are dancing with your rivals, don’t close your eyes.
  9. It is easy to pull a thorn out of someone else’s skin.
  10. When others have received, you may still receive, because God is always present.

Sources: Special DictionaryAfrican Proverbs in African Literature

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