Proverbial Wisdom

            Proverbs are more than just a saying, a list of words strung together.  They are a reflection of the people and the culture that created them; a message that someone wanted to get across.  All countries have their own proverbs, but in Madagascar they take on a very special place in the life of the people.  Before any speech, whether official or not, the speaker will start with a proverb that encompasses the whole essence of what it is they are trying to express.  Not to mention that on every lambaoany (the cloth that every woman wears around their waist) is a different proverb. 
Translation from one language to another can be hard.  There are many words that do not have
an equivalent word in other languages but convey more of a meaning, the spirit of the culture.  Below are some of the favorite Malagasy proverbs of a few of the people in my town. I have written the Malagasy proverb, the English translation (trying to keep the significance of what is being said), and the meaning of the proverb if not easily grasped.

  1. “Aza mijery lohasaha mangina fa andriamanitra ao antampondoha.”
“Don’t see silent valleys because God is above.”
            ~ Don’t mind the silent places because God sees you all the time.

  1. “Soa atao levenam-bola, ratsy atao loza mihantona.”
             “To do good brings money, to do bad holds danger.”

  1. “Tanora vato mandondona ny antitra hazo amoron-tevana ka tsy fantatra izay handeha aloha.”
”Young stone knocks the old wood at the side of canyon, so do not know which goes before.”
~The old and young are the same. We don’t know which death will be first.

  1. “Ny havana havana ihany.”
            “My sibling is my sibling.”

  1. “Ny fanahy no maha olona.”
“The personality makes the person.”

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