There is so much wisdom to be found in the words of our ancestors. They’ve experienced so much in their lives and it would be wise if we learned from their experiences and their mistakes. Sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, these carefully selected Jamaican proverbs have one thing in common, they are part of our roots, heritage and culture. They often need to be read several times to get the true meaning and that, in my opinion, is intentional so we keep them close and at hand for when we grow and come to the realisation that “aha, they are so right”.
Speak to any proud Jamaican and you’ll see that we are rightly very proud of the place that Jamaican culture holds in the world in so many spheres of life and in the hearts of so many. In our proverbs, of which there are many, we pay homage to our wise ancestors and pass on our wisdom to the next generation.
Someone suggested I should think of writing a book about Jamaican proverbs and other wise sayings and, who knows, maybe I will one day. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s another book in me. There’s no wisdom in recreating the wheel so I’ll wait for divine inspiration on that front. I’ll know when I know.😊
In the meantime, I’ve scoured the web to collate a specially curated blogpost of a starter for 10 of Jamaican proverbs. The blogpost is split into the specific headings that have been important at some stage in my life and I’ve benefitted from the lessons I have learned along the way. When you learn, you should teach and I hope they resonate with you too and transcend cultural divides.
Have a 😂, share with a friend and leave a comment below. Full credit and respect to the sources listed too. United we stand.🙌🏽❤️
Upward social mobility 🙌🏽
Ebry dawg hab him day, an ebry puss him 4 o’clock.
Translation: Every dog has his day, and every cat has his 4 o’clock. Explanation: We should not behave as if we are better than others, or allow our position in life to blind us to the fact that tremendous opportunities can be given to those persons whom we would least expect to reap these benefits. (“Your day will come.”)
Fiyah deh a muss-muss (moos-moos) tail, in tink a cool breeze.
Translation: There is a fire blowing at the tail of the mouse, but he believes he is feeling the effects of a cooling breeze. Explanation: Many times, in our naiveté, we remain unaware of impending danger until it actually overtakes us. Also, the foolhardy blithely interpret the signs of danger to mean that all is well.
Yuh cyaan sidung pahn cow bak cuss cow kin.
Translation: You cannot sit on the back of the cow and curse the skin of the cow. Explanation: We should not disparage others. Worse yet, we should never be ungrateful to, or disdainful of, those who help us.
A no ebryting kum fram abuv a blessen.
Translation: Not everything that comes from above is a blessing. Explanation: Enjoy those blessings which come from above, but do not be misled by deceivers who use their superior positions to dispossess the unfortunate.
Warnings (cure for “hard ears”) ⚠️
Cry-cry picney neber hab him right.
Translation: A crybaby (for a stubborn) never gets his rights. (Beckwith). Explanation: Those who are always complaining are seldom listened to. (Anderson, Cundall)
Cock mowt kill cock.
Translation: The rooster was killed by his own mouth. (The butcher would not have known where to find him if he had not opened his mouth to crow.). Explanation: One should never boast, nor should one speak out of turn. We should choose our words with care, lest we by our own tactlessness, cause ourselves unhappiness.
A nuh lack a tung mek cow nuh talk.
Translation: It’s not for the lack of a tongue why a cow does not talk. Explanation: You don’t have to repeat everything you see, hear or know.
Bucket wid hole a battam nu have no business a riverside
Translation: A bucket with a hole in the bottom has no business by the riverside. Explanation: Don’t criticise others when you have your own faults.
Self praise a nuh no recommendation.
Translation: Self praise is no recommendation. Explanation: The Bible advises “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own lips.”, (Proverbs). If the only recommendations of our own worth are pronounced by ourselves, then it is certain that such pronounciations are mere vanity. One should be too quick to “sound his own trumpet”.
Peacock hide him foot when him hear ‘bout him tail.
Translation: A peacock hides his feet when he hears about his tail. Explanation: A proud person hides his weaknesses when praised.
Share widely! Tek care! 🇯🇲❤️🇯🇲💛🇯🇲💚🇯🇲
Credits and for more wisdom:
Pic credit: Tamia McIntosh, Jamaican loom band bracelet. Art and loom bands by Tam: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ArtAndLoombandsByTam?ref=shop_sugg