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Tanzanian proverbs on relationships

I’ve picked up my book of Tanzanian proverbs again recently, and here are a few about relationships.

Damu ni nzito kuliko maji – Blood is heavier than water.

This looks like the English proverb ‘Blood is thicker than water’ but it has an extra connotation. On top of the idea that loyalty is first to family members, it carries with it the idea that family members will hurt you more than others. It’s used when a person defends or helps their family member even when that person is doing the wrong thing or hurting them.

Kikulacho ki nguoni mwako – The thing which is biting you is in your clothes.

It’s easiest for a flea to bite you if it’s in your clothes, close to your body and skin. If it’s on the outside, it’s harder for it to bite you. This proverb shows that it is the people close to us who are more able to hurt us, because they know our secrets.

Kisichofanana na mwenyewe ni cha kuiba – The thing that doesn’t look like its own is stolen.

This is a proverb used of children whose characteristics or appearance don’t resemble either of their parents. It means that they don’t belong in the family.


Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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