What Did Scientists Really See In The Mariana Trench?
What Did Scientists Really See In The Mariana Trench?

Definition of a riddle:

A riddle is a short saying intended to make one use his wits in unravelling the hidden meaning.

In a riddle, the listener is faced with a question or an allusive sentence referring to something else which they must try to figure out. Riddles are told as a prelude to the telling of stories. They can also be told in between stories.

Riddles are also used in conversations to issue veiled threats, convey secret information and as a vehicle of humour.

Performance of riddles

Different communities’ different ways of performing riddles.


Challenge: Kwata ndai (take a riddle)

Acceptance : (A) Nakwata (I take it)

Riddle: Kaveti kanini kanaa nesa kwi mwenyu (A small one who cooks better than your mother)

Solution: Ni nzuki (It’s bees)


Kitendawili (a riddle)

A; tega (pose it)

R: Kaa huku nikae kule tumvue nguo mshenzi. (Stay on this side and me on the other side so that we can strip this fool).

Guesses: By the competitor to decipher the riddle. If he is successful he wins; if not,

he proceeds with next step.

Prize: to the challenger (mji or itija) who solves or reveals the riddle in the next step.

Solution: Ni hindi. (It’s a maize cob).


(a) Environmental education

Riddles stem from observation and comprehension of the environment. Each community uses the objects within its environment in its art.

1. My camel is the shortest but it eats the tree at the top-Bird.

2. When I slaughter my cow I don’t throw away anything. I eat everything including the bones. -coconut.

3. My house has no door.-egg

4. Little things that defeat us. – mosquitoes.

5. Water standing up. – sugarcane.

(b) Language Training

1. How many wheels does a car have? Five

2. A question you cannot answer “yes” Are you asleep

3. The two-legged sitting on the four legged waiting for the eight legged.- A bird on a cow waiting for a tick.

(C) Cultural norms

1. I have a wife everybody she has a beard. – The maize plant

2. The dirty Fatuma. – Broom

3. My daughter who leaves hu ngr y and return full. – The water pot.

4. My daughter has in eye on the head – the needle

5. The colourful Agnes. The chameleon

(d) Entertainment

1. The bald headed man has entered. Ugali

2. The white lady is in the office – the jigger

3. My father’s little hill which is easily destroyed -porridge

4. Magiregede walks as if he were proud- Wagon

5. Shiligili shigi. – the wind.

(e) Record of change

These are riddles the record the changes that have taken place in the society.

1. My train is running in the filed.– the centipede.

2. On arrival at the station I was shouted at – train.

3. A little chap who plays the type-writer.– the tongue


1. Riddles on people

The white lady is in the office-jigger

I passed when Mumia’s wives were quarrelling -Weaver birds

2. Cultural objects

A small gourd full of blood – a tick.

When I beat my child people dance -drum.

3. Natural phenomena

What tree has only one thorn? -sisal.

A meeting under a rock -The beard

4. Domestic animals

Why have they taken a few for grazing and left so many resting? -the sheep’s droppings

My white mouthed cow is shared by all -toothbrush

5. Parts of the body

A small bush inhabited by animals -the head.

Go round one side of the mountain while I go round the other but we shall never meet– the ears.

6. Plants

What tree has only one thorn? – sisal I passed when Mumia’s wives were pregnant. – Millet heads.

7. Modern Technology

The saloon car carrying whites only.

Charcoal iron.

How many wheels does a car have? -five

8. Birds

I passed when Mumia’s wives were quarrelling. –weaver birds.

My camel is the shortest but it eats the tree at the top. –a bird.

9. Waste products

I cut a tree and lef6t it steaming. –

human waste.

It steams but it is not lit. –

fresh cow dung

10. Interrogative riddles

: These are riddles that are in the form of questions.

What tree has why have they taken a few for grazing and left so many resting ?

Because they are sheep’s droppings.

11. Declarative riddles:

These are riddles in the form of a statement. Most of the riddles given in the previous examples are declarative riddles

12. Epigramatic riddles

These are riddles that are presented in a series of puzzles.

Oh thosee ones ripe bananas

Oh those other ones. –Water in a cave.

13. Idiophonic riddles

These are riddles based on so unds.

Ci and ci. Cindano “a needle” ( in reference to the sound made when a needle is going

in and out of a garment).

Magi regede walks as though he is proud.– wagon.

Examples of riddles with answers

1. Njoroge the carpenter.

– A beetle.

2. You ho ld I hold. –

Cutting of meat into pieces.

3. Ci and ci. (Quiet noise made by a needle passing through cloth). –

A needle

4. It came from Kambaland in a tie.

The crow,

5. One side of the gourd is white. –

Chicken droppings.

6. I have gone round the forest with a red motorcycle.


7. It went hungry and came back full.

The small bag for greens (vegetables.)

8. A winnowing tray in the plain.

An elephant’s foot print.

9. It is upside down but it does not leak.

A cow’s udder.

10. They face up as though they are about to lead a song.

The horns of cattle.

11. I have a person who lives between two swords but they never get cut.

The tongue.

12. I cut a tree and left it smoking.

Human excreta.

13. I have a home where only women dwell.

A banana plantation.

14. My house has only one pole.

The mushroom

15. Those things in the cave have one hundred eyes

Honey combs.

16. An elephant with one ear

A cup.

17. Abundo is busy, Abundo is harvesting.

The louse.

18. Adundo dances and she is rewarded.


19. I passed when Mumia’s wives were quarrelling.

Weaver birds.

20. I passed when Mumia’s wives were pregnant

. Millet heads

21. I walk, run and run perpetually.


22. The rat family’s gun.


23. A meeting under a rock.

The beard.

24. The old man who cannot climb a hill.

The hippo.

25. The old man who never leaves behind the overcoat.

The tortoise.

26. The saloon car carrying whites only. The charcoal iron.

27. The maiden whom dies after giving birth only once.

The banana tree.

28. My daughter who works without resting.

The heart

29. The two legged s itting on the four-legged waiting for the eight-legged.

A bird sitting on a cow waiting for a tick

30. It s teams but it is not lit. Fresh cow dung

31. Why have you taken a few for grazing and left behind s o many resting?

Because they are s heep’s droppings .

32. My white-mouthed cow is shared by all.

The toothbrush.

33. Go round this side of the mountain and I go round the other side, but we shall

never meet. The ears .

34. There is a bare place where no one ever settles if one did so there would be

crying. The eyes .

35. What tree has only one thorn? Sisal.

36.The rocky one with eight holes

. The head of an elephant

37. When I beat my child people dance.

A drum.

38. My house is small but it has many holes .

A fish trap.

39. A tree has fallen far away but its branches have breached here.

News of death.

40. It can neither be held nor caught.


41. I always hear but cannot see him.


42. Here is a rock and there is a rock.

The grave.

43. Little things that defeat us .


44. Water is tanding up.


44. The house in which one does not turn around.

The grave

45. The little chap who plays the typewriter.

The tongue.

46. The old man who croaks at night


Similarities and differences between riddles and proverbs

Similarities between Proverbs and riddles

1. They are brief.

2. They employ figurative language.

3. They app ear in fixed for m.

4. They express some observation of phenomena.

Differences between riddles and proverbs

1. Riddles are performed in a formal structure and pattern with at least two parties, where one is a challenger and the other one the respondent.

Proverbs on the other hand are infused in speech.

2. The basic function o f riddles is socialization and entertainment.

Proverbs, on the other hand express community’s wisdom and world view.

3. Due to the functions mentioned in (2) above, riddles are common among children while proverbs are used mainly by adults.

You are watching: The Functions, Classification and Performance of Riddles with Examples. Info created by PeakUp selection and synthesis along with other related topics.