September is a very special month for me,it is not only my birth month but it is also celebrated as heritage month by The Republic of South Africa.

This is a month where we celebrate different tribes and races that make up the “rainbow nation”, as South Africa is affectionately known; we celebrate our heritage and great heroes that come from our tribes.

South Africa has 9 official languages , which are recognised according to the representation of those tribes. My Tribe is Pedi, we originally come from the Northern Province of the country officially known as Limpopo Province. The province houses three main tribes which is Tsonga, Pedi and Venda, there are people from other races and tribes because South Africa is a free country for all citizens however the three tribes have a bigger population in the province as we originate from it. 

As someone who is passionate about history and culture, I often tell my peers that we as Africans were a knowledgeable race and have been scholars long before modern day educational institutions were established, a case in point is the art in the language we speak. Idioms are a big part of every language as they are used to drive a point but not in a literal manner. For example, if you say someone has “cold feet,” it doesn’t mean their toes are actually cold. Rather, it means they’re nervous about something.

I have decided to share a few idioms that emanate from my native language of Sepedi and the meanings of such idioms:

1. Tau tša hloka seboka dišitwa ke nare e hlotša.

Tlhalošo : Ge lesa kwane, le ka se kgone go fenya manaba goba go fetša mošhomo wa lena.

English translation : Lions that fail to work as a team, struggle to bring down even a wounded buffalo.


This idiom highlights the importance of team work, because sometimes in life there are tasks that you will not be able to complete on your own and will require assistance from others. A team that prospers is a team that has the same mission and vision.

2. Alafa molwetsi, a re go fola a roga ngaka

Similar idiom : ka hlaolela leokana , la re go gola la nhlaba.

Tlhaloso :O thuša motho a le kgakanegong, gomme ge a thušegile o thoma go go nyatša le go tšama a go senya leina, a re o motho yo mobe.

English Translation : Never bite the hand that feeds you

Never speak ill of people who were good to you at your darkest hour because if you happen to fall into the same situation, they will not assist you again.

3. Mmala wa kgomo , o taga namaneng

Tlhaloso: Go loka goba go ba le pelo ye mpe go gakala kudu ngwaneng, gobane ka yena re kgona go bona seo motwadi e lego sona ka mekgwa ya gagwe le maitshwaro a gagwe.

Translation : An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Lesson :

There are at least two lessons that can be derived from this lesson.

– Talent is hereditary , children often mirror and supersedes the talents that their parents showcased. The daughter of a singer, will most likely become an even more prominent singer, same applies for other fields of life.

Example :

Eric Sono(Father) and Jomo Sono(Son)

When we talk about fathers and sons who made it as soccer players in South African football, the first names that come to our minds are Sono’s. It is because Eric Sono and his son, Jomo, were great ambassadors of the game albeit the testing apartheid era during their times. Both are respected legends of Orlando Pirates. Jomo went on to be a highly successful coach and coached Bafana Bafana at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan whilst he also won a few cups domestically with his own club Jomo Cosmos where two of his sons Bamuza and Matsilele are also playing.

– Children will mirror everything they see in you, if you want your children to respect people and be good people. They have to see it from you as the parents. Teach your children , good manners and respect. They will turn out to be good people and represent your family name very well.

4. Ngwana a phoša dira ga a bolawe.

Tlhalošo: Motho le ge a dirile phošo, a re se mo galefeleng eupša re mo kgaleme ka lerato go mo laetša phošo ya gagwe.

Translation: To err is human.

Lesson :
Everyone is prone to making mistakes because we are human, when someone made a mistake do not be quick to write them off instead, you should make them aware of the mistake they committed while encouraging them on how to rectify it and to never commit it again.


Example :

Before he became a famous rapper, Curtis Jackson III (aka 50 Cent) served a six-month boot camp sentence (instead of his original three-to-nine years) for drug-related charges. While in prison, he earned his GED and was determined to make it as a rapper. His first album was a hit, and he continues to make music along with other business aspirations.

5. Diyamaleng ga di fahle, go bolaya mpholo

Tlhalošo: Dijo di ratwa ke bohle, eupša modiro o a tšhabiwa

Translation : everyone wants to eat but few are willing to hunt

Lesson :
This is a great lesson to those who want to be successful, especially those who want to start their own businesses or would like to attain wealth and power.
The question is : Are you prepared to go the extra 100 miles to get where you envision yourself to be? Will you sacrifice a little of yourself to build your empire?

There are many more questions out there but only a few people will actually make it happen. Some people either rush the process or don’t even start; they just “talk” about it.

Only those who act will achieve what they envisioned.


Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most hard working athletes in the world, he understands that talent alone cannot get you far in life. Below is a quote of what he said just after he won The 2016 Ballon d’Or :

“If you have talent but don’t work hard, you won’t win anything,” he said.

“In my career, I’ve always worked hard in training and games. It’s hard work which achieves success.

“Leaving home was the most difficult moment of my career. I also left my family at 11, 12 to go to another city.

“It was difficult and intense, but it was good. When I understood that I had the potential to be a professional player, I was around 15, 16, 17 and that was when everything changed.”

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and gained some life lessons through the Pedi idioms that were shared, what are your favourite idioms in your native language? Please share and translate the meaning.

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