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Today, we conclude our discussion on Nigerian Food Proverbs. For the benefit of those who have not read part one of this segment, proverbs are cherished expressions in human society. They are used to describe in a few words what would have otherwise required a thousand words. Proverbs are used in everyday discourse to embellish words, give corrections, pass didactic lessons. This perhaps explains why the Igbos describe them as the palm oil with which words are eaten.
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Here are some Nigerian food proverbs and their meaning: The hunger that has hope of satisfaction does not kill- The man who will survive his difficult circumstances is the one who looks beyond his predicament to the bright future ahead of him. The hot soup is licked slowly- Difficult problems should be tackled with caution. When the child eats that which has been keeping him awake, he falls asleep- When a man has achieved his goal or solved a worrisome problem, he feels relaxed and at ease. A person who sells eggs should not start a fight in the market- Do not criticize others for faults that you have. One soiled finger sullies the rest- A group can be punished for one man’s offence. You should know what’s being cooked in the kitchen otherwise you may eat a forbidden food- The curious are well informed and rarely misled. The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of famine- One cannot fully understand a situation that one has not experienced.
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Sandy hands bring oily mouth- The man who works hard will be rewarded. If you know how to pound, pound in the mortar but if you don’t know how to pound, pound on the floor- The choice to either utilize or waste an opportunity is yours. Two pieces of meat confuse the fly- The man who has choices is the one who hesitates. It’s the rat at home that informed the bush rat that there is fish in the wire mesh basket- The people close to you are the ones who will betray you. The child who pounded the pepper deserves a share- A labourer deserves his wage. He who does not eat dog meat should not eat a soup prepared with it- A man must not be fickle but firm in decision making. Instead of a pot of wine to breed animosity between in-laws, it should break along the way- One must avoid doing things that have the potential of ruining relationships. If it’s a matter of consumption and not of sale, then, the hen is better than the horse- Everything is useful in its own way. It is my sincere hope that you not only enjoy reading these proverbs but you also use them to embellish your words. References: Martha Chidimma Egenti and Adaobi Ngozi Okoye, On the Role of Igbo Proverbs in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (London: Heinneman, 1958). Columbia Education Online Hausa Online Featured Image Source: Cookpad
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This article was first published on 3rd December 2020


Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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