Proverbs: The Bridge Between Generations

Proverbs: The Bridge Between Generations


Proverbs, as defined by Collins Dictionary, are short sentences that people often quote, which give advice or tells you something about life. Not only are they clever, funny and memorable, they also express a desire for tolerance and respect: ‘Howdy and tenk yuh nuh bruk nuh square.’ Proverbs have been passed down through generations and are apart of Jamaica’s intangible culture. Many of Jamaica’s proverbs originate from West Africa, as well as they contain European influences. They are cultural treasures which represent our ancestors’ wisdom gained through experience with time.

Purpose of Proverbs

Proverbs are multipurpose. According to Oliver Senior, Proverbs serve an educational and social function; they are used to teach, inspire caution, courage and (common) sense. Jamaica’s proverbs reflect the innate wit and wisdom of the Jamaican people, as well as the colour and vitality of Jamaican Patois itself.” 

List of Jamaicans Proverbs and Their Meanings

Listed below are some famous Jamaican proverbs and their meanings:

  • Rockstone a riva bottom nuh know sun hat – If you are in a sheltered situation, you don’t know what hardship is.
  • Chiga toe frade a grabble – Those with an injury know what to avoid to prevent pain and making the injury worse.
  • Learn fi dance a yaad before yuh dance abraad – Perfect your skills before trying to apply them in public.
  • Nuh romp wid mawga cow, a cudda bull mumma – Don’t underestimate people who may seem weak and insignificant because you don’t know what kind of powerful and influential people they have in their corner
  • Chicken merry, hawk deh near – Amidst our excitement, we should keep a watchful eye for trouble.
  • One one cocoa full basket – Take things one step at a time and eventually we will get where we want to.
  • One eye man a king in blind man country – No matter how bad your situation seems, there is always another for whom things are worse
  • Talk and taste your tongue – Think before you speak
  • Victory nu come fram lie dung inna bed – You have to work hard for what you want

Proverbs are one of the bridges that connect generations. It is important that we keep them close to the heart as they are one of the things that define us as a people.

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