Shona Proverbs
This Shona language page contains a list of Shona proverbs with corresponding English translations. Proverbs that are commonly-used by most of Shona speaking people.

Shona proverbs are no more than short expressions of popular wisdom. Wisdom gained through general observation and experience, and serve to educate the young and caution those who know them. Instructional proverbs emphasize cultural values and beliefs. Shona proverbs were known and used way before written Shona language.

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ShonaTranslationMeaning
Chinoziva ivhu kuti mwana wembeva anorwara.It is only the ground that knows a baby mouse is sick.It's the people close to someone that know his/her affairs.
Varume, kutsva kwendebvu vanodzimurana.Men, the burning of a beard is the extinguishing of each others beard.Men help each other in times of trouble.
Seka urema wafa.Laugh at a cripple when you are dead.Don't make fun of someone less fortunate for tomorrow it may be you.
Zizi harina nyanga.An owl has no horns.Things are not always what they seem.
Rinamanyanga hariputirwi mushushunje.That which has horns is not concealed in a bundle of grass.Nothing can be hidden forever.
Chinonyenga chinokotama chinosimudza musoro chawana.One courting bows down and raises his head when married.One is on their best behavior when seeking a favor and shows their true character after it has been obtained.
Kana benzi rako richidzana unopururudza.When your crazy person dances, you applaud.When you know the bad traits of someone you will not be offended when they do bad things.
Chembere masikati usiku imvana.An old woman during the day; at night is a young mother. 
Chembere mukadzi hazvienzani nekurara mugota.An old woman does not compare to sleeping in single men's quarters.Poor quality is better than nothing.
Itsitsi dzei tsvimborume kubvisa chana chemvana madzihwa?What kindness is it; for a bachelor to wipe nose of a young woman's child?Sometimes people have an ulterior motive for helping.
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The meaning of each proverb shown above is one possible interpretation of the proverb for proverbs use metaphors. One of the largest collection of Shona proverbs is in a book by M. A. Hamutyinei and A. B. Plangger, Tsumo-Shumo: Shona Proverbial Lore and Wisdom (Gwelo, Mambo Press, 1974).

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