Nubian Proverbs

Maher Habbob’s Nubian Proverbs presents the fruits of decades of collecting proverbs from his native Nubian region in Fadicca (Nobiin). The five hundred proverbs gathered in this volume give a vivid picture of the Nubian imagination and represent a priceless archive of cultural heritage threatened by ongoing assimilation and cultural genocide.

The proverbs are presented in Nubian script, accompanied by a transliteration in Roman script, an a literal translation and paraphrase in English.


ⲛⲁⲡⲓⲛ ⲕⲟ̄ⲅⲟ̄ⲛ ⲫⲁⲇⲇⲁⲛ ⲕⲟ̄ⲇⲟ ⲥⲁⲣⲙⲓ.
Napin koogoon faddan koodo sarmi.
“Who owns gold needs who owns silver.” (People need each other to live.)

ⲥⲓ̄ⲱ ⲟ̅ⲩ̅ⲥ ⲁⲣⲕⲓ ⲟ̅ⲩ̅ⲥⲕⲁ ⲕⲁ̄ⲣⲓ.
Siiw uus arki uuska kaari.
“Bad sand looks for bad clay.” (Like attracts like.)

ⲅⲟⲩⲥⲥⲉ̄ⲛ ⲧⲟ̅ⲩ̅ⲛ ⲉⲇⲁ̄ⲛⲁ.
Gusseen tuun edaana.
“A call to prayer inside the grain silo.” (Said about someone who speaks and advises, but no one listens or follows their advice.)


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