Unimpeachable African Proverbs that Teach Core Values

Filed in Quote by on July 17, 2022

Which culture in Africa are you familiar with? Have you ever been close to any African and hear their conversations? How many proverbs did you pick out? The last question comes because a typical, native African will rarely speak without using a proverb or two. 

The prestige enjoyed by African proverbs is probably because of the close connection most African cultures have with this particular language feature.

Notably, a great number of African cultures have an assorted number of proverbs. As a matter of fact, the use of proverbs in Africa is taken as a sign of authority and a sufficient grasp of one’s culture.

Prominently, African drama, storytelling, motion pictures, and songs all bear indelible prints of African proverbs. African proverbs permeate all aspects of African life.

As you are about to see, there are very interesting African proverbs in circulation. So, reading further, keep your mind open to learn from the wisdom of the wise.

A Collection of Spectacular African Proverbs

Using spectacular is actually an understatement when referring to African proverbs. However, the word can suffice for this article. Check these African proverbs out;

1. “A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground.” > Igbo proverb

2. “A brave man dies once, a coward a thousand times.” > Somali Proverb

3. “A child is a child of everyone.” > Sudanese proverb

4. “A clever king is the brother of peace.“ > South African Proverb

5. “A doctor who invoked a storm on his people cannot prevent his house from destruction.” > Nigerian proverb

6. “A flea can trouble a lion more than a lion can trouble a flea.” > Kenyan proverb

7. “A fully grown up tree cannot be bent into a walking stick.” > Kenyan Proverb

8. “A person with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace.” > Chadian Proverb

9. “A spider’s cobweb isn’t only its sleeping spring but also its food trap.” > African proverb

10. “The elephant does not limp when walking on thorns.” > Ethiopian Proverb

11. “All monkeys cannot hang on the same branch.” > Kenyan Proverb

12. “An empty pot makes the loudest noise.” >Kenyan Proverb

13. “An intelligent enemy is better than a stupid friend.” > Senegalese proverb

14. “An orphaned calf licks its own back.” > Kenyan proverb

15. “An ox shits more than a hundred mosquitoes.” > Mozambican proverb

16. “Anger and madness are brothers.” > African proverb

17. “Around a flowering tree there are many insects.” > Guinean Proverb

18. “Baboons do not go far from the place of their birth.“ > Masai Proverb

19. “Be a mountain or lean on one.” > Somali proverb

20. “Better little than too little.” > Cameroonian proverb

21. “Birds of all kinds will end up landing.” >Egyptian Proverb

22. “Birds sing not because they have answers but because they have songs.” >  African proverb

23. “Do a good deed and throw it into the sea.” > Egyptian proverb

24. “Do not allow the belly to make you useless.” > Maasai Proverb

25. “Do not call to a dog with a whip in your hand.” > Sudanese Proverb

26. “Do not follow a person who is running away.” > Kenyan proverb

27. “Earth is the queen of beds.” > Namibian proverb

28. “Even an ant can hurt an elephant.” > South African Proverb

29. “Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands.” > Nigerian proverb

30. “Even the best cooking pot will not produce food.” > African proverb

31. “Even the best dancer on the stage must retire sometime.” > African Proverb

32. “Even the lion, the king of the forest, protects himself against flies.” > Ghanaian proverb

33. “Examine what is said, not him who speaks.” > Egyptian Proverb

34. “Family names are like flowers, they blossom in clusters.” >African Proverb

35. “God has created lands with lakes and rivers for man to live. And the desert so that he can find his soul.“> Tuareg Proverb

36. “Good millet is known at the harvest.” > Liberian Proverb

37. “Good music goes with good food.” > African Proverb

38. “Haste and hurry can only bear children with many regrets along the way.” >Senegalese Proverb

39. “He is like a drum which makes a lot of noise but is hollow inside.” >Sudanese Proverb

40. “He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself.” > African proverb

41. “He who burns down his house knows why ashes cost a fortune.” > African proverb

42. “He who does not seize opportunity today will be unable to seize tomorrow’s opportunity.” > Somali Proverb

43. “He who doesn’t clean his mouth before breakfast always complains that the food is sour.” > African Proverb

44. “He who is unable to dance says that the yard is stony.” > proverb

45. “He who refuses to obey cannot command.” > Kenyan Proverb

46. “He who runs after good fortune runs away from peace.” > African proverb

47. “I shall come for the cows after the donkeys have grown horns.” > Meru Proverb

48. “If a stranger comes to stay with you, do not forget when you lay aside his weapons that he is hungry.” > Maasai Proverb

49. “If an arrow has not entered deeply, then its removal is not hard.“ > Buli Proverb

50. “If love is a sickness, patience is the remedy.” > Cameroonian Proverb

51. “If the elders leave you a legacy of dignified language, you do not abandon it and speak childish language.” > Ghanaian Proverb

52. “If you carry the egg basket do not dance.” > Ambede proverb

53. “If you damage the character of another, you damage your own.” > Yoruba Proverb

54. “If you do not have patience you cannot make beer.” > Ovambo proverb

55. “If you educate a man you educate one individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.” > Fanti Proverb

56. “If you have no teeth, do not break to clay cooking pot.” > Chewa Proverb

57. “If you overtake a leader, you break your neck.” > Ugandan Proverb

58. “If you pick up one end of the stick you also pick up the other.” > Ethiopian proverb

59. “If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.” > Gambian proverb

60. “Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author.” >Twi Proverb

61. “It is crooked wood that shows the best sculptor.” > African proverb

62. “It’s like removing a hyena from a pit.” > Meru Proverb

63. “Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.” >Guinean Proverb

64. “Leadership comes from God.” > Kenyan Proverb

65. “Little by little grow the bananas.“ > Congolese Proverb

66. “Little by little the bird builds its nest.” > Nigerian Proverb

67. “Misfortune of soup made of shanks and feet.” > Xhosa Proverb

68. “No matter how beautiful and well-crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for death.” > African proverb

69. “No matter how full the river, it still wants to grow.” > Congolese Proverb

70. “Numbers can achieve anything.” >Ghanaian Proverb

71. “One camel does not make fun of the other camel’s hump.” > Ghanaian Proverb

72. “One fly does not provide for another.” > Xhosa Proverb

73. “One foot isn’t enough to walk with.” > Egyptian Proverb

74. “One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold.” > Fipa proverb

75. “Only someone else can scratch your back.” > Kenyan Proverb

76. “Other people’s wisdom prevents the king from being called a fool.” >Nigerian Proverb

77. “Rich people cook their food in a potsherd. “ > Kikuyu Proverb

78. “Rich people sometimes eat bad food.” > Kikuyu Proverb

79. “Slander by the stream will be heard by the frogs.” > Mozambican proverb

80. “Supposing doesn’t fill the grain basket ‘if’ doesn’t fill the larder.” > Ovambo Proverb

81. “Teeth do not see poverty.” > Masai proverb

82. “The big game often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day.” > Igbo Proverb

83. “The blame of the antelope is on the hunter.” > Kenyan Proverb

84. “The chameleon changes color to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colors to match the chameleon.” > Senegalese Proverb

85. The chameleon looks in all directions before moving.“ > Ugandan Proverb

86. “The child of a rat is a rat.” > Malagasy proverb

87. “The child you sired hasn’t sired you.” > Somali proverb

88. “The cow that bellows does so for all cows.” > Kenyan Proverb

89. “The death of an elderly man is like a burning library. — Ivorian proverb

90. “The elders of the village are the boundaries.” > Ghanaian Proverb

91. “The elephant does not limp when walking on thorns.” > Ethiopian Proverb

92. “The food which is prepared has no master.” > Malagasy proverb

93. “The friends of our friends are our friends.” > Congolese Proverb

94. “The good mother knows what her children will eat.” > Akan Proverb

95. “The laughter of a child lights up the house.” > Swahili proverb

96. “The night has ears.” > Masai proverb

97. “The sun never sets without fresh news.” > Xhosa Proverb

98. “The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open.” >Zambian proverb

99. “The young bird does not crow until it hears the old ones.” > Tswana proverb

100. “There are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree.” > Cameroonian Proverb

101. “There is no return, worse luck for could I return, I would foresee what has come into the country.” > Bantu Proverb

102. “Those who are absent are always wrong. “ > Congolese Proverb

103. “Those who are born on top of the anthill take a short time to grow tall.” > Ghanaian Proverb

104. “Time destroys all things.” > Nigerian Proverb

105. “We desire to bequeath two things to our children. The first one is roots; the other one is wings.” > Sudanese proverb

106. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children.” >Haida Proverb

107. “When a fish rots, the head stinks first.” > Ghanaian Proverb

108. “When the food is cooked there is no need to wait before eating it.” > Kikuyu Proverb

109. “When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly.” > Buganda People of Uganda

110. “When the mother goat breaks into the yam store her kid watches her.” > Igbo Proverb

111. “When the roots of a tree begin to decay, it spreads death to the branches.” > Nigerian proverb

112. “When the shepherd comes home in peace, the milk is sweet.” > Ethiopian proverb

113. “When you befriend a chief, remember that he sits on a rope.” > Ugandan proverb

114. “When you show the moon to a child, it sees only your finger.” > Zambian proverb

115. “Where a woman rules, stream run uphill.” > Ethiopian Proverb

116. “Where error gets to, correction cannot reach.” > Ghanaian Proverb

117. “Where water is the boss, there the land must obey.” > African proverb

118. “Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.” > Yoruba proverb

119. “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” > Ewe proverb

120. “You cannot build a house for last year’s summer.” > Ethiopian proverb

121. “You cannot climb to the mountain top without crushing some weeds with your feet.” > Ugandan Proverb

122. “You cannot name a child that is not born.” > African proverb

123. “You have little power over what’s not yours.” > Zimbabwean proverb

124. “You must attend to your business with the vendor in the market, and not to the noise of the market.” > Beninese proverb

I am certain you are nodding in agreement with the excellent wisdom you have garnered from these African proverbs. Not many continents make use of proverbs as much as Africans do.

Hardly will you find any African piece, like music or writing that will not be laced with fascinating proverbs.

Feel free to share this article with your friends and loved ones.

CSN Team.

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