In no language do proverbs plays a more important role than in Igbo. It has been wisely said in "proverb"
that "Ilu bụ mmanụ eji eri okwu".
It is imperative therefore that a lot of importance is attached to them in Igbo School examinations. These pointed sayings
are the accumulated treasure of Ibos philosophy throughout the ages.
A language that has no written history is apt to preserve its literature, history and ideas in maxims.
Proverbs therefore contain the observations, knowledge and wisdom of our fore-fathers who not having developed the art of
writing were compelled to condense what they would have put down in writing into a short form that could be easily remembered
and passed from generation to generation.
The real essence of proverbs is metaphor and therefore any attempt at paraphrase makes the proverb lose its flavour.
This accounts for the loses of terseness, appeal and picture which proverbs convey, when we attempt to translate proverbs from
one dialect into another.
A person wh uses proverbs and idioms frequently and appropriately is considered to have much wisdom and a command of the language.
Proverbs are being continually created day by day.
The talent depends to a great extent on the user's accumulation of existing proverbs, his own personal experience and
observations, and his ability to fomulate new ones.
A good understanding of Igbo Proverbs would automatically lead one to an understanding of the Ibo man, his philosophy
of life, tradition, culture and mode of living because it is in them that the accumulated knowledge, wisdom, religious belief
and experience of the Ibo man throughout his history have been embedded and perserved.
Points to Note
Giving Literal/ Real/ Equivalent meanings of Proverbs.
- Students of Igbo must learn many proverbs and be able to use them with ease and flexibility
- They should be able to give the literal as well as the true meanings of proverbs.
- They must be able to give equivalent Igbo and English proverbs.
- They must be able to express passages containing proverbs, in translation, either in English or in Igbo.
- Ibo Proverb - Otu mkp ụr ụ akw ụ adịghị efu n'ọkụ
- Literal meaning - One only nut does not miss in the fire.
- Real meaning - The fewer things we have the more careful we are about them.
- Ibo Proverb - Ihere adịghị eme onye ara ka ọ na-eme ụmụ-nna ya
- Literal meaning - A mad person is not as ashamed as his relatives.
- Real meaning - People who know values appreciate them most. Relations are concerned most with a person's behaviour.
- Ibo Proverb - Otu onye tụọ izu, o gbue ọchụ
- Literal meaning - If one man takes decision, he commits murder.
- Real meaning - Knowledge is never complete: two heads are better than one.
- Ibo Proverb - Ihe ehi hụrụ gbalaba ọsọ ka ọkụkụ hụrụ na-atụ ọnụ
- Equivalent English meaning - Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
- Ibo Proverb - Oge adịghị eche mmadụ
- Equivalent English meaning - Time and tide wait for nobody.
- Ibo Proverb - Kpo ahịhịa ka obere otu ụkpa
- Equivalent English meaning - A stitch in time saves nine.
- Ibo Proverb - Chọọ ewu ojii ka chi dị
- Equivalent English meaning - Make hay while the sun shines
- Ibo Proverb - Gidi gidi bụ ugwu eze
- Equivalent English meaning - Unity is strength