Sudanese Proverbs

Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; besides the gates leading into the city, at all the entrances, she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
You, who are simple, gain prudence; you, who are foolish, gain understanding.
Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. (Proverbs 9:1-6)

Sudanese Proverbs- Translated, Transliterated and Explained

by Muna Zaki and Edmund Wyatt 
Our book of over 560 Sudanese Arabic proverbs is now available in local bookshops and as a paperback or eBook on Amazon.

The following is a synopsis: Proverbs are succinct memorable sayings that are passed down by word of mouth from one from one generation to another. They usually provide some advice or opinion on some commonly held fact. This book is a collection of proverbs that are in everyday use in the Sudan. Many of them are specifically Sudanese and cast some light on the nature of a society that remains at heart a rural and traditional one despite the rapid urbanization of recent years. Owing to their oral nature it is hard to know exactly when and where many proverbs originated. However, it is obvious that many popular proverbs are taken from Classical Arabic while others are drawn from religious texts such as the biblical book of Proverbs. Some have a comparable proverb in English while others are more specific to Sudanese history and society. For instance, “The dervishes killed Gordon” (55) and “If people’s intention is pure, one ‘angareeb (a rope bed used in the Sudan) would be enough to carry a hundred. (245)

Many of the proverbs are written in Colloquial Sudanese Arabic (others in Modern Standard Arabic) and we hope that this will assist foreign language speakers in learning this dialect. All the proverbs have been written in transliterated script to assist the beginner. Learning proverbs in a foreign language is a great way of expressing your sense of humour or understanding about certain situations without having to make jokes or comments that might not really be appropriate.

Some of the proverbs have a sufficiently obvious meaning that any further clarification has been unnecessary. However, in most cases we have provided an explanation or story.

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