Kenya Proverbs, Sayings and Popular Expressions

In Kenya proverbs are often used to express something. With proverbs, Kenyans typically use comparisons drawn from everyday life to express some deeper meaning. Browse through my collection of proverbs and sayings below, which were collected from all the sources I could find. My favourite? "Those who arrive to the spring first, drink the purest water."

Kenya Proverbs A-L

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A baboon (monkey) laughs at the buttocks of another baboon.

A black ant will not bite another (black ant).

A champion bull starts from birth.

A child does not fear treading on dangerous ground until he or she gets hurt stumbles.

A child points out to you the direction and then you find your way.

mother with baby, mombasa, kenya

Mother carrying baby and basket, Mombasa, Kenya
Kenya art poster - View at

A debt between children born by the same mother is paid in a clever way.

A donkey always says thank you with a kick.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

A fully grown up tree cannot be bent into a walking stick.

A good person once you shelter with him under the bush you will know him, and bad one as well.

A hyena cannot smell its own stench.

A lone runner says he has legs (runs fast).

A messenger cannot be beaten.

A person changing his clothing always hides while changing.

A rat-trap catches both the guilty and the innocent.

A rope parts where is thinnest.

A sinking ship doesn't need a captain.

A slave has no choice.

A true person is the one who gives birth to a foolish child.

A woman’s stomach does not grow if she is not pregnant.

A word in the heart does not win.

All cassavas have the same skins but not all taste the same.

All monkeys cannot hung on the same branch.

An empty pot makes the loudest noise

An old pot never lacks food remains.

An orphaned calf licks its own back.

Bad dancing does not brake an engagement.

Bartered grains do not fill up the granary.

Blessings are better than possessions.

Bow-legged person does not hunt antelopes.

Burning charcoal is turned into ashes.

Competition exhausted the lungs.

Cut your nose to save your face.

Dip after dip depletes a jar of honey.

Do not follow a person who is running a way.

Even a friend can not rescue one from old age.

Even an expert swimmer drowns.

Even if you bewitch in the night, you will be known.

Even the small leopard is called leopard.

Every bird flies with its own wings.

Every door has its own key.

Feet cannot stop one from going into danger.

Follow bees and get honey.

Good things sell, bad things advertise.

He who does not know one thing knows another.

He who is unable to dance says the yard is stony.

He who refuses to obey cannot command.

He who wants what is under a bed must bend over to get it.

He whose seeds have not germinated does not put down the seed container.

Help yourself and God will help you.

How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves.

How gently glides the married life away, when she who rules still seems but to obey.

However much it rains on you, no wild banana tree will grow on your head.

I shall come for the cows after the donkeys have grown horns (never).

If it doesn't resemble dad, it resembles mum.

If you do not know death, look at the grave.

If you want to kill a monkey, avoid looking him in the eyes.

If one is roasting two potatoes, one of them is bound to get charred.

Intelligence is like hair, everyone has its own.

It is better for the eye to die than the heart.

It is better to be poor when one is young, rather than becoming poor at old age.

It is the grass that suffers when elephants fight.

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