Ohabolana: Malagasy Proverbs

Ohabolana or Malagasy proverbs show the wit and wisdom of the Malagasy people distilled from the rich experience of living. There are hundreds of Malagasy proverbs and sayings. I have selected a few which impressed me the most. Hope you too will find these proverbs enlightening and imbibe the wisdom they offer to live better and smarter.

Tsihy be lambanana ny ambanilantra.
All who live under the sky are woven together like one big mat.

Ataovy fihavanam-bava sy tanana: raha marary ny tanana mitsoka ny vava, ary raha marary ny vava manafosafo ny tanana.

Be like the mouth and the hand: when the hand is hurt the mouth blows on it, When the mouth is hurt the hand rubs it.

Ny alina mitondra fisainana
The night brings wisdom.

Ataovy dian-tana: jerena ny aloha, todihana ny afara.

Behave like the chameleon: look forward and observe behind.

Aza atao fihavanam-bato ka raha tapaka tsy azo atohy, fa ataovy fihavanam-by raha tapaka azo atohy.

May your friendship not be like a stone: if it breaks you cannot put the pieces together. May it be like iron: when it breaks, you can weld the pieces back together.

Aza manao fitia ranotrambo: be fihavy fa mora lasa.

May your love not be like a torrent: it comes heavy at first but disappears in a very short time.

Aza manao fitia varavarana, tiana ihany ka atositosika.

Do not treat your loved one like a swinging door: you are fond of it but you push it back and forth.

Aza manao toy ny mpanankarena mahihitra ka mihary ho an’ny mpandevina.

Do not be like a miser who saves for those who will bury him.

Aza mitsipa-doha laka-nitana.

Do not kick away the canoe which helped you to cross the river.

Ny alahelo toy ny vary an-tsompitra: ahafahana iray fatambary isan’andro dia levona ihany ny farany.

Sorrow is like rice in an attic: you use a little every day and in the end it is all gone.

Ny fo tezitra tsy ananan-drariny.

By getting angry, you show you are wrong.

Ny atody tsy miady amim-bato.

An egg does not fight a rock.

Ny teny toy ny atody: raha foy manan’elatra.

Words are like eggs: when they are hatched they have wings.

#MadagascarLitMonth is curated by Abhay K.

Abhay K.

Abhay K. is the author of nine poetry collections including The Magic of Madagascar (L’Harmattan Paris, 2021), The Alphabets of Latin America(Bloomsbury India, 2020), and the editor of The Book of Bihari Literature (Harper Collins, 2022), The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian PoemsCAPITALS, New Brazilian Poems and The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems. His poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines including Poetry Salzburg Review, Asia Literary Review among others. His ‘Earth Anthem’ has been translated into over 140 languages. He received SAARC Literary Award 2013 and was invited to record his poems at the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2018.  His forthcoming book length poem is titled Monsoon. His translations of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta  (Bloomsbury India, 2021) and Ritusamhara  (Bloomsbury India, 2021) from Sanskrit, have won KLF Poetry Book of the Year Award 2020-21.

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