Selected Kalenjin wise sayings and proverbs

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Artistic impression of storytelling during Christmas season

Wise sayings and proverbs are a type of witty or rather puzzling literature. They are usually short and employ literary devices such as analogy, metaphor, poetic parallelism and alliteration. The words used are simple, short, generally known sentences of folk but contains wisdom, truth, morals and views in metaphorical, fixed and memorable form which was handed down from generation to generation.

In Kipsigis tradition, proverbs succinctly reflected the realities of life from various angles. Proverbs since time immemorial have served to correct, criticize and teach members of the community. The following are some of the commonly used Kalenjin wise sayings.

Biyendo buluchon syororto kememon
A satisfied person doesn’t care the way the hungry feels.

Mobete kiy negiito borowo nemi koo.
Never throw anything which once helped you since you might need it in the coming days.

Chepkisas kototun kechome
Whoever is despised today will be honored or feted. It teaches on the humble beginnings which later turns fruitful.

Chome iniboe tany koboto nengu’ng, iniboe lakwa kobo kelat koboto nebo mununwo.
Never pre-occupy yourself in serving others at the expense of developing yourself.

Chome ingoonin bunyon koonin nebo ibin
Better an adversary of your age than the younger one who will not give you time to rest due to the unmatched energy.

Kaliyaan tany negiilichi Kiptome tiriin
Troublesome is the cow that compels the owner to follow it as it wanders in search of greener pastures. It literally means that situations can be difficult but one always pursues what he/she considers valuable.

Kiruk yosin
Old age is strong and doesn’t spare anyone.

Korom ngetundo omo ome arekyik
The lion can be strong, brave and fierce but it doesn’t eat its young ones. It is used in warning people against giving excessive discipline on their children.

Metabee kungit komait aiywet
Never pull all your energies in the handle of the axe before the axe itself comes. It is used to warn people to spare their energies for the big things and not to be carried away by shadows.

Kibendi nyalil mei
The saying is attributed to rain. A man thinks that he is doomed when it rains and still damned when it doesn’t. It teaches on the acceptance of God’s will.

Kiwosunen besen kweyon
Men always borrow different things for instance money, goats, sheep and cows and they repay with different often smaller item. It teaches people not to bank on debts.

Meige nigipo loet
Someone went to look for a pot and found a slaughtered goat. He asked for soup and soon forgot what he had gone for. It is used to warn people to stick to their priorities.

Moilildo kiruk yuk
A bull doesn’t live with strength forever. It used to warn people to work hard when they still have the strength and capacity.

Mogiborchin susut kimaket
Do not show a wound to hyena for it will eat you up. Do not tempt people into committing some ill by flaunting certain things to them.

Mogoryon chi netinye nge’lyepta
He who knows how to talk will never die because of hunger. This applies to the politicians who always wins the electorates by speaking politely, sweetly hence making brain catching promises.

Moburyonu munyas cheragan
A cow can be old but it still has some use. Likewise, never despise old people.

Mokiyoktoen kimaket beny
Do not trust hyena to deliver a piece of meat for it is likely to eat it on the way. Likewise, never tempt the needy by sending them to carry what they are in need of.

Motinye okwet kimain
Drunkards always go in groups while looking for the alcohol but each one goes his way once drunk. It is used warn people against peer influence.

Mogiyumen sosur yeomen keyep
Never despise what you have benefited from since you might need it in future. It is used to remind people to always think about the future.

Moinguching’e kimaget somisio
A man cannot see his own shortcomings and faults.

Moichomunen chi go
Never talk ill about somebody while in the house as you are never sure if he is hearing you.

Teen omit kesobe
Food will be there as long a man live. It is used to warn people against eating too much.

Mokiomen neng’utum komi neng’atip
There is no need of wandering around when you could solve a problem with facts. It is used to encourage people on the importance of telling the truth.

Moryee moo, tos kirye en tumoi
A man can never be permanently gratified. It is used to teach on the significance of focusing the priorities and necessities.

Omit age rwoon
Better a night accommodation than eating to full and missing a place to rest. It teaches people on the importance of owning a house.

Ng’o samis muryan kobo koot nebo
A person can be bad but he belongs to his people. An individual whether bad is always adored by his/her family.

Ng’o ng’aalin bai ing’walen aran, kong’aalin aran ing’walen tany, kong’aalin tany ing’walen chi
When you get a good harvest, buy a goat which will later yield a cow which will in turn give you a wife through payment of dowry.

Betut nepo kang’ulye kobo nebo kaororet kobo
There is time for everything.

Tinye inat itik
Never talk ill of someone while inside a room. It is used to warn people against careless talks since the subject of the conversation might be coincidentally outside or maybe he/she has a friend who is among the crowd.

Kotiunen chepyoso koligo
It is common in times of famine where a woman would stroll to a neighbor’s house to ask for food for her children. She would later return with food wrapped in her garments. It teaches on the problems brought about by insufficient food.

Kigong’en met bo talam tagat nebo ei
A grasshopper is eaten while waiting for an ox to mature. It teaches the significance of waiting patiently while for the best time for something good to happen.

Kirobrobe chering’is kot koik ndara
Shreds of something can be put together to make one bigger thing. It teaches on the importance of saving whatever little one has.

Motiren ko ata? kibogin ko ata?
Motiren are hundred, they are many while Kibogin are two. Motiren refers to the traditional teachers with in-depth knowledge of the Kalenjin circumcision processes. On the other hand, Kibogin refers to the honey harvesting experts. They are usually two where one climbs the tree while the other stays on the ground to receive and keep the harvested honey in a container.

Additional contribution by Pastor Joel Kimeto

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