Karin Magana: 15 Hausa Proverbs and their Meanings

The following guest article was written by Mr. Richard Juwah, who works at Hausa.ng, a Nigerian news blog in Hausa language. In it, he explains the meaning of 15 popular Hausa proverbs.

By the way: I have another blog – Karin Magana – which is all about Hausa proverbs. Have a look and find more than 1500 proverbs there – I keep adding to it.

In Hausa language, proverbs are called “Karin Magana”. The following 15 Hausa proverbs are some of the most popular that you can learn in your quest to learn how to speak Hausa language.

1.) Mai ci da uwa ba shi kukan suɗi.

Literal meaning: He who eats with his mother will not have to cry for the scrapings (for she will give it to him as a matter of course).

Explanation: The usual way of eating is for everyone to dip his or her hand in turn into a pot or plate until the food is finished: the scrapings are what is referred to as suɗi.

2.) Ruwa ba su tsami banza.

Literal meaning; Water does not get sour without a cause

Explanation: There is a reason for everything that happens

3.) Ba don “rigan domin” ba, da mutum ya mutu matsyaci.

Literal meaning: If it were not because of someone else’s influence, a man would die poor.

Explanation: No man is an island on his own. We all need the help of someone to climb to the heights we aspire for.

4.) Makaho ya rasa ido, ya ce ido na wari.

Literal meaning: The blind man who lacks eyes says that eyes stink.

Explanation: Don’t condemn the usefulness of something simply because you don’t have it.

5.) Idan ruwa ya zubar, ya bar tulu, ya yi kyau.

Literal meaning: Even if the water is spilled, if the jar is not broken, there is no harm.

Explanation: Don’t cry over spilled milk. Do not fret over situations that are beyond your control.

6.) Ba domin tsawo a kan ga wata ba

Literal meaning: You don’t see the moon because of your height.

Explanation: It is not by your power that you have done a certain thing. Anyone can do it.

7.) Fawa biyu tana ɓata hankalin ƙuda.

Literal meaning: two pieces of meat confuse the mind of the fly

Explanation: The hesitation between two choices confuses a person.

8.) Mai akuya ya yi tafiya dare, balle mai kura.

Literal meaning: If the owner of a goat is not afraid to travel by night, then why should the owner of a hyena be?

Explanation: Seeing that night is the usual time for a hyena to move about, the owner of a hyena should not be afraid.

9.) Mu dai ɓeran rami ɗaya, in ba a gama a shiga ba, a gama a fita.

Literal meaning: We are mice of one hole, if we don’t meet going in, we meet going out.

Explanation: If you refuse to give a man something that he asks for, your own time of need is coming. Be good to people, so that in turn, people will be good to you.

10.) Idan angulu ta biya maka maradi, zabuwa ta tafi da zanenta.

Literal meaning: if the vulture fulfils your desire, the guinea fowl will pass you by.

Explanation: In other words, if you are satisfied with mediocrity, success will have nothing to do with you.

11.) Kunkuru yana son dambe, ba shi da yatsa.

Literal meaning: The tortoise wishes to fight with his fist, but he has no fingers

Explanation: It means a wrath or anger that is powerless. One is faced with a challenge and they can do nothing about it.

12.) Kome yake cikin ɗan tsako, shaho ya daɗe da saninsa.

Literal meaning: Whatever there is inside a chicken, the hawk has been familiar with it for a very long time.

Explanation: There is nothing much you can teach a person who is very knowledgeable about a certain topic.

13.) Gishiri na yi wa man kaɗe dariyar rana, ran da ruwa ya zo gishiri ya ji kunya.

Literal meaning: Salt laughs at shea butter while the sun shines, but when the rain comes, it is  ashamed.

Explanation: Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. In one field, a person can excel and in another, that same person can be a flop. E.g. – You can be a whiz in Math, but when it comes to Economics, you’re as clueless as ever.

14.) Idan dai a ci ne ba a sayar ba, kaza ta fi doki.

Literal meaning: If it is a matter of eating and not of selling, then the hen is better than a horse

Explanation: There is use for everything, even the things that seem so little (such as a chicken).

15.) Wani tsuntsu ya ke gudu ruwa, agwagwa ruwa ta ke nema

Literal meaning: Some birds avoid water. The duck searches for it

Explanation: Everyone has his or her own taste. Different strokes for different folks. E.g. – Some love a cold-water bath. Others would rather have warm water.

Here are some further recommendations from Richard Juwah:


23 thoughts on “Karin Magana: 15 Hausa Proverbs and their Meanings”

  1. Please look for a Hausa person to give you the correct proverbs and spellings before you post.
    What you wrote here is like speaking Spanish with the Indian head gesture.

  2. This requires several thumbs up my brother, you are on a roll,just ignore all Criticisms…..u know some people are just there to point out other people’s weaknesses….. don’t just give a damn!

  3. good!!! but you really need to confirm some of the spellings before posting.your literal meaning and explanations are excellent and spectacular…BRAVO!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s