African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


BURUNDI [Capital City: Bujumbura]

Burundi‘s political crisis has been a major problem for the world since the early 1990s when the Hutus and Tutsis fought each other in politically influenced ethnic sentiments.


1. When the leopard is away, his cubs are eaten.

2. In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins his case.
[Interpretation: Weaklings in society do not ever get justice because of the nature of the environment and the situation in which they find themselves in life–surrounded by those to whom might is right. This proverb is about the social injustice that makes it difficult for people who do not have “connections” in political circles to enjoy their rights and privileges as human beings.]

3. If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building, or do you change the nail?
[Interpretation: You don’t have to allow one misfortune to prevent you from going ahead to achieve your goals in life. The downfall of a man should not be the end of his life, nor should the loss of one animal in the forest mean the death of all other animals there. You still can go ahead to make progress in life after an initial faulty start if you gather yourself together for the tasks.]

4. You set the trap after the rat has passed.

5. Where there is peace, a billhook (sickle) can be used to shave your beard or cut your hair.

6. From the word of an elder is derived a bone.


The following links will take you to sources that have some important information on Burundi:

Burundi drummers 


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