Tsumo| 20 Shona proverbs to inspire hard work

Shona proverbs on work give the picture that agriculture was the mainstay of the economy of the Shona people. The most important activity of the greatest number of people was the growing of crops for food. When the hoe came into existence with the spread of the Iron Age, the agricultural process became more secure. The hoe provided a powerful digging and clearing instrument.

The following 20 proverbs relate mostly to agriculture and inspire a strong work ethic.

1. Ungokutukira badza, ungokupa upfumi.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘The one who urges you to handle a hoe gives you riches.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture. The hoe was thus an important tool for working the land.

Application
Sometimes people will encourage someone to do something, or reprimand him against something, not for their benefit but his.

2. Badza guru kupa murimi, kuripa simbe inovata naro.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘‘Give a big hoe to a farmer; a lazy man will fall asleep with it.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture. The hoe was thus an important tool for working the land.

Application
A tool becomes useful only in the hands of one who knows how to use it.

3. Meso ihunzanungo, kubata hazvidyi muswere.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘Looking on causes laziness, but the actual doing will not take a whole day.’ 

Application
Sometimes work is actually less demanding than it appears.

4. Badza harinyepi.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘A hoe tells no lies.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture. The hoe was thus an important tool for working the land.

Application
Hard work and perseverance will eventually reap benefits.

5. Murimi haadyi agere, anodya amire.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘A farmer eats while standing, not seated.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture. Farming was therefore highly regarded.

Application
To make a living, a person must work for it.  

6. Anokuti rima ati udye.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘He who tells you to work the land wants you to have food.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture.

Application
Sometimes people will encourage someone to do something, or reprimand him against something, not for their benefit but his.

7. Padoko-padoko, hapadzokeri pakare.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘What has been done, even if slowly, won’t become undone.’

Application
Slow progress is still progress.

8. Sadza huritamburira, hapana angaridye akatambarara.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘One has to work hard to secure food. No one should expect to eat while lying idle.’ Sadza, generally described in English as a stiff meal porridge, is the highlight of traditional Zimbabwean cuisine.

Application
Hard work is necessary for any achievement.
A person must work to earn a living.

9. Ndima yabatwa yasundika.

ndima: Portion of field allotted to one for weeding. Piece of work.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘A piece of work once started has progressed.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture.

Application
Sometimes getting started is all it takes to get ahead.
Even a daunting task will not seem as overwhelming once started.

10. Kuturika denga kubatirana.

Inspiration for proverb
Roofing a house requires more than one person.

Application
Some tasks require teamwork, and one will not succeed doing them alone.

11. Rwendo rwemujecha mutangirapamwe.

jecha: sand

Inspiration for proverb
Walking in sand requires more effort than walking on a hard surface.

Application
Some things are better completed alongside others.
If you do not take advantage and do them while others are at it, you might never catch up. Others will succeed while you lag behind.

12. Sango rinopa waneta.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘The forest rewards one who (has labored and) is exhausted.’ If a hunting expedition continues to progress with no luck, the hunter’s morale could be dampened.

Application
Sometimes the prospects might look bleak, but perseverance and determination will ultimately pay off.

13. Kashiri kasingapambari hakanuni.

pambara: hunt for food
nuna: become plump

Inspiration for proverb
Birds spend much of their time on the lookout for new food sources. They will fly around or survey an area from the tops of trees constantly searching for anything that could be a potential new source of food.

Application
One should never tire of the pursuit of success or survival, otherwise they risk falling short.

14. Pako hapana radoka.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘It is never late (to be working) when it is yours.’

Application
For one’s personal ventures, they are more determined and will not hesitate to put in more effort than expected.

15. Hurudza inofa ichinzi inodya.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘An outstanding farmer will starve while everyone else believes he has plenty.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture. Farming was therefore highly regarded.

Application
There are certain things that people might never expect a well-to-do man to lack. As a result, people might never be convinced when such a person is in need.

16. Kurima makombo mana kushaya manetswa.

gombo: New agricultural land. Virgin soil.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘One succeeds in farming four pieces of virgin land when they haven’t had any disturbances.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture.

Application
A person will succeed in finishing a piece of work in good time if they do not encounter anything that might hold them back.

17. Pagara murimi pagara mupopoti.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘Where there is a farmer, there is a grumbler.’ Traditionally, the Shona relied primarily on agriculture.

Application
An industrious person is always busy and eager to get things done. As a result, he is constantly pushing those around him to work harder.

18. Kudya mombe idya yebadza, kudya yomwana mangwana inokudyawo.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘When you consume an ox, let it be the one you acquired through your own labour; that from your daughter’s bride price will cost you in the future.’ I suppose circumstances could arise where the cattle paid for the bride price might need to be returned.

Application
One can only rely on what they have earned as a result of their effort, and not that of others.

19. Chinokura choga isango, munda kukura huona tewe.

tewe: Master. Owner.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘Only a forest yields on its own, a field will yield at the sight of its master.’

Application
For something to grow and prosper, one needs to constantly attend to it and put in the required effort.

20. Kuneta kwomukuyi, sadza rinodyiwa navagere.

Inspiration for proverb
The proverb can be translated as ‘The one who grinds the meal (for making sadza) tires, and those who didn’t do the grinding enjoy the sadza nonetheless.’

Application
Sometimes people enjoy the benefits resulting from the work of others.


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