Five Zambian Proverbs

Hey everyone! Today I take you with me and visit a little bit of Zambia through her proverbs. I’m sharing with you five Bemba problems and their teachings. Enjoy!

  • Imiti ikula empanga

Translation: Today’s bush is tomorrow’s forest

Teaching: This proverb is commonly used to say the young are the hope of tomorrow’s future. Another teaching would be “do not despise small beginnings.” What seems little today may be the world’s next big thing! This is an extremely popular Zambian proverb.

  • Akantu kantu ukwete kuminwe

Translation: A thing is what you hold in your hands.

Teaching: One has to rely on what they have in the moment. It also teaches not to misuse what one has presently because they hope for more tomorrow. I’ve heard this proverb commonly used when one is trying to make plans for the next day based on items they don’t have or they have been promised. Use what you can see and not what only exists in theory.

  • Beshiba ekowafuma tabeshiba ekoleya

Translation: Where you are coming from is known, not where you are going.

Teaching: Plan with what you have. One is more certain with what they have than what they hope for in the future. It teaches that we don’t know what’s really going to happen when you get to where you are going so the best is to be ready with what you have now. This one is quite similar to the previous one.

  • Icikalipa cumfwa umwine

Translation: Pain is felt by the victim

Teaching: A problem is better understood by the one going through it. We can never fully feel someone’s pain or understand what they are going through unless you are going through it too. So be mindful with your words when you are helping someone out!

  • Ishuko lyamunobe talyendelwa

Translation: Your friend’s luck is not your luck too.

Teaching: Each person has their unique share of luck. Their own lane and their own race. It doesn’t mean you will be successful the same way as another person because we all have different paths in life. Just because one thing worked out for someone doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work for you too.

That’s it from me! I’ll be back tomorrow.

Stay safe. Black lives matter. Stop sexual abuse.

Thanks for reading!


Wonani Xx

21 thoughts on “Five Zambian Proverbs

  1. Beshiba ekowafuma tabeshiba ekoleya- my mum would always use this to tell me to eat before going out or to an event like a wedding…”because you don’t know if you’ll find food”
    Haha these brought back so many memories.

    Liked by 2 people


    The meaning is similar to Shona one which goes chako ndechawadya chasara mutoro wamambo
    (Yours is what you have eaten, what you have yet to eat, is the king’s)

    Liked by 1 person

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