The Wisdom of Dagbani Proverbs: Life Lessons in a Few Words

Dagbani Proverb: Tin yi woga, tin mbe di tooni.
Translation: If a town is far, there is another farther away.
Meaning: You might think you are the only one who has got the most difficult problem. Someone else has a more difficult problem than yours.

Dagbani Proverb: Nubil yimi ku pii kugli.
Translation: One finger cannot pick a stone.
Meaning: When two or more people do a piece of work together, it is much easier.

Dagbani Proverb: Nan barizi ni tin tula.
Translation: A person who rides a bicycle or horse does not know that the ground is hot.
Meaning: If all goes well with you in life, do not think it is the same with everybody.

Dagbani Proverb: Nuni nyeri o dini.
Translation: Who sees his own?
Meaning: People do not usually talk about their own problems. They rather talk about those of others.

Dagbani Proverb: Kpaai bahi bi vari zaa.
Translation: Don’t cry over spilt milk.
Meaning: Do not worry so much about problems. Rather think of how best you can solve them.

Dagbani Proverb: Sunulo vela di malibu nto.
Translation: Patience is good, but hard to practice.
Meaning: Good things are achieved through hard work.

Dagbani Proverbs are a treasure trove of wisdom encapsulated in a few words. These proverbs, originating from the Dagbani people of Ghana, Africa, provide profound insights into the complexities of life. In this article, we will explore the meanings and lessons behind six Dagbani Proverbs, shedding light on the universal truths they convey.

“Tin yi woga, tin mbe di tooni” – The Relativity of Problems

Have you ever found yourself drowning in your worries, thinking that your problems are insurmountable? The Dagbani Proverb “Tin yi woga, tin mbe di tooni” reminds us of the relativity of problems. It translates to “If a town is far, there is another farther away,” illustrating the idea that no matter how challenging our situation may seem, someone, somewhere, is facing an even greater hardship.

This proverb serves as a gentle nudge to put our problems into perspective. It encourages empathy and humility, reminding us that we are not alone in our struggles. When we recognize that others face more significant challenges, it becomes easier to find the strength and resilience to overcome our own difficulties.

“Nubil yimi ku pii kugli” – The Power of Collaboration

The proverb “Nubil yimi ku pii kugli” translates to “One finger cannot pick a stone.” This saying emphasizes the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Imagine trying to lift a heavy stone with just one finger; it’s a daunting task. However, when two or more people work together, the burden becomes manageable.

In our individualistic society, we often underestimate the power of collective effort. This proverb reminds us that there is strength in numbers and that working together can make seemingly impossible tasks achievable. Whether it’s tackling a project at work or addressing a family issue, remember that seeking help and working in tandem with others can lead to more successful outcomes.

“Nan barizi ni tin tula” – The Illusion of a Comfortable Life

The proverb “Nan barizi ni tin tula” delivers a profound message: “A person who rides a bicycle or horse does not know that the ground is hot.” It serves as a reminder that our perception of life’s difficulties is often skewed by our personal experiences. When everything is going well for us, it’s easy to assume that others are also living comfortably.

However, this proverb encourages us to practice empathy and recognize that not everyone shares the same fortune. The ground may be hot for some while others ride comfortably. It highlights the importance of remaining humble and understanding that life’s circumstances vary greatly among individuals.

“Nuni nyeri o dini” – The Unspoken Struggles

The proverb “Nuni nyeri o dini” asks a poignant question: “Who sees his own?” It conveys the idea that people tend not to discuss their own problems openly. Instead, they often focus on the problems of others. This observation reflects a fundamental aspect of human nature—the tendency to conceal our vulnerabilities.

This proverb serves as a reminder that beneath the surface, many individuals are silently grappling with their issues. It encourages us to be more compassionate and attentive to those around us. By reaching out and offering support, we can create a more caring and empathetic world.

“Kpaai bahi bi vari zaa” – Don’t Dwell on Problems

When faced with difficulties, it’s natural to become consumed by worry and anxiety. However, the Dagbani Proverb “Kpaai bahi bi vari zaa” advises us not to dwell on our problems. Its translation, “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” succinctly captures the essence of this wisdom.

Rather than agonizing over what has already occurred, we should focus on finding solutions and moving forward. Dwelling on past mistakes or misfortunes only hinders our progress. This proverb encourages us to adopt a proactive mindset and channel our energy into problem-solving rather than lamenting our circumstances.

“Sunulo vela di malibu nto” – The Value of Patience

The proverb “Sunulo vela di malibu nto” emphasizes the importance of patience in achieving worthwhile goals. It translates to “Patience is good, but hard to practice.” This saying acknowledges that while patience is a virtue, it can be challenging to exercise in practice.

In our fast-paced world, instant gratification often takes precedence over patience. However, this proverb reminds us that valuable achievements often require time and effort. Whether it’s building a career, nurturing a relationship, or mastering a skill, patience is the key to success.


Dagbani Proverbs offer timeless wisdom that transcends cultural boundaries. These concise yet profound sayings provide valuable life lessons, from recognizing the relativity of our problems to the importance of collaboration, empathy, and patience.

As we reflect on these proverbs, let us strive to incorporate their wisdom into our daily lives. By doing so, we can become more resilient, compassionate, and effective individuals, better equipped to navigate the complexities of our world. Remember that, just as the Dagbani Proverbs teach, life’s challenges are relative, and together we can lift even the heaviest stones. So, don’t cry over spilt milk; instead, focus on solutions, and practice patience on your journey towards a more fulfilling life.

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