Wisdom from Africa: African Proverbs and Quotes
Proverbs: A Tool of Learning and Entertainment
Proverbs and sayings are found in almost every culture in the world. In honor of Black History month I decided to dedicate this lens to African proverbs. There is a world of wisdom contained in each proverb and we can learn a lot about African culture from them. But even more so if we pay attention proverbs can teach us not to commit the same errors as our ancestors. At the very least proverbs can be a source of entertainment if not a learning tool. It is my hope that the African proverbs in this lens will both teach and entertain you. The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat. ~African Proverb
Image: Bwa African Mask, Quotes Cards at zazzle.com/injete
African Love Poems and Proverbs
January: Inspirational Quotes
African Quotes and Proverbs
1. However long the night, the dawn will break.
2. It is not what you are called, but what you answer to. - African Proverb
3. By trying often, the monkey learns to jump from the tree. ~ Ugandan Proverb
4. When the door is closed, you must learn to slide across the crack of the sill. ~Yoruba Proverb
5. You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win. ~African Quotes
6. For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
7. To get lost is to learn the way.
8. By crawling a child learns to stand.
9. What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn. ~African Proverb
10. One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom. ~African Proverb
11. If you close your eyes because of the bad people around you, you will not see the good people passing by.
12. The eyes that have seen the ocean cannot be satisfied by a mere lagoon.
13. To try to to fail, is not laziness.
14. Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.
15. It is not work that kills, but worry.
16. The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes didn't have tears.
17. We desire to bequest two things to our children -- the first one is roots; the other one is wings. ~Sudanese Proverb
18. Those who accomplish great things pay attention to little ones. – Malawi
Black History and African History Books
February: Love and Marriage Quotes
African Love Quotes
1. Where there is love there is no darkness. ~Burundian Proverb
2. Coffee and love taste best when hot. ~Ethiopian Proverb
3. To be able to love other people you must be able to love yourself. ~African Proverb
4. Love never gets lost it's only kept. ~African Proverb
5. Happiness requires something to do, something to love and something to hope for. ~Swahili Proverb
6. If there is cause to hate someone, the cause to love has just begun. - Wolof Proverb
7. If love is a sickness, patience is the remedy. ~Cameroonian Proverb
8. Love is like a cough you can't hold it back. ~African Proverb
9. He who loves the vase loves also what is inside. ~African Proverb
10. Pretend you are dead and you will see who really loves you. ~African Proverb
11. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better. ~Wolof Proverb
12. It's much easier to fall in love than to stay in love. ~African Proverb
13. A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries. - African Proverb
14. If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is. - Egyptian Proverb
15. Many are the roads that do not lead to the heart. - Moroccan Proverb
16. Never marry a woman who has bigger feet than you. - Mozambique
17. One thread for the needle, one love for the heart. - Sudanese Proverb
18. Love, like rain, does not choose the grass on which it falls. - Zulu Proverb
19. People who love one another do not dwell on each other's mistakes. - Kenya
20. A letter from the heart can be read on the face. - Swahili
21. Love has to be shown by deeds not words. - Swahili
22. If money were to be found up in the trees, most people would be married to monkeys. - African Proverb
23. Do not desire a woman with beautiful breasts, if you have no money. - South African
24. If you are ugly you must either learn to dance or make love. - Zimbabwean Proverb
25. Love is a despot who spares no one. ~Namibian Proverb
March: Wisdom Quotes
African Quotes and Proverbs
1. Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. - Akan Proverb
2. Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. - Hema (DRC) Proverb
3. Wisdom does not come overnight. - Somali
4. Wisdom is wealth. - Swahili
5. The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~Ethiopian Proverb
6. The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water. ~ Cameroon
7. Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~Akan Proverb
8. Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~Guinean Proverb
9. A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan Proverb
10. In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and foolish build dams. ~Nigerian
11. If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom.
12. A wise person will always find a way. ~Tanzanian Proverb
13. Nobody is born wise. ~African Proverb
14. Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. - Akan
April: Community Quotes
African Unity Quotes
1. Unity is strength, division is weakness. - Swahili
2. It takes a village to raise a child. - African proverb
3. Many hands make light work. - Haya (Tanzania)
4. Where there are many, nothing goes wrong. - Swahili
5. Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper. - Haya Tanzania
6. Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won't eat you. - African proverb
7. If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
8. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. - Bondei
9. A single bracelet does not jingle. - Congo
10. A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn.
May: African Family Quotes
1. A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place.
2. A family tie is like a tree, it can bend but it cannot break.
3. Brothers love each other when they are equally rich.
4. He who earns calamity, eats it with his family.
5. A united family eats from the same plate. - Baganda
6. If I am in harmony with my family, that's success. - Ute
7. Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. - Ethiopian
8. The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth. - Akan
9. Children are the reward of life.
10. There is no fool who is disowned by his family.
11. Home affairs are not talked about on the public square.
12. If relatives help each other, what evil can hurt them?
Image: Soul Sisters Magnet, African Art by Injete at Zazzle.com
June: Friendship Quotes
African Proverbs and Quotes
1. To be without a friend is to be poor indeed. - Tanzania
2. Hold a true friend with both hands.
3. The friends of our friends are our friends.- Congo
4. A friend is someone you share the path with.
5. Show me your friend and I will show you your character.
6. Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you.
7. Between true friends even water drunk together is sweet enough.
8. A small house will hold a hundred friends.
9. A close friend can become a close enemy.
10. Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends. – Gabon
Image: Friends, African Metal Art Painting by Injete
July: Peace Quotes
African Peace Quotes
1. Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. ~Kenyan Proverb
2. War has no eyes - Swahili Saying
3. When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful. ~Ashanti Proverb
4. Peace does not make a good ruler. ~Botswana Proverb
5. A fight between grasshoppers is a joy to the crow. - Lesotho
6. There can be no peace without understanding. ~Senegalese Proverb
7. Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully. ~ African quotes
8. If you can't resolve your problems in peace, you can't solve war. - Somalia
9. When there is peace in the country, the chief does not carry a shield. ~Ugandan Proverb
10. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled. - Swahili Saying
11. Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. - West African Proverb
Image: Blue Lady, Abstract Art by Injete Chesoni
August: African Leadership Quotes
1. He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk. - Malawi
2. An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. - Ghanaian Proverb
3. He who is destined for power does not have to fight for it. - Ugandan Proverb
4. Do not forget what is to be a sailor because of being a captain yourself. - Tanzania
5. Without a leader, black ants are confused. - Ugandan Proverb
6. He who refuses to obey cannot command. - Kenyan Proverb
7. He who fears the sun will not become chief. - Ugandan Proverb
8. A large chair does not make a king. - Sudanese Proverb
9. Because he lost his reputation, he lost a kingdom. - Ethiopian Proverb
10. Where a woman rules, streams run uphill. - Ethiopia
11. A leader who does not take advice is not a leader. - Kenya
12. If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a body-guard. - Sierra Leone
September: Education Quotes
African Proverbs about Learning
1. Learning expands great souls. ~Namibian Proverb
2. Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone. ~Moroccan Proverb
3. You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~Bateke Proverb
4. Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases. ~Swahili Proverb
5. He who learns, teaches. ~Ethiopian Proverb
6. If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents. ~African Proverb
7. When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. ~Ashanti Proverb
8. Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off. ~African Proverb
9. Advice is a stranger; if he's welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day. ~Malagasy Proverb
10. Traveling is learning. ~Kenyan Proverb
11. The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat. ~African Proverb
12. Where there are experts there will be no lack of learners. ~Swahili Proverb
13. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed. ~Ashanti Proverb
14. What you learn is what you die with. ~African Proverb
15. You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. ~Congolese Proverb
Image: Angel in Green, African Girl Painting by Injete Chesoni
October: Patience Quotes
1. Hurry hurry has no blessings. - Swahili
2. To run is not necessarily to arrive. - Swahili
3. Patience can cook a stone
4. A patient man will eat ripe fruit.
5. Patience is the key which solves all problems. - Sudanese
6. Patience is the mother of a beautiful child. - Bantu
7. Patience puts a crown on the head. - Ugandan
8. Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far. - Swahili
9. At the bottom of patience one finds heaven.
10. However long the night, the dawn will break.
11. A patient person never misses a thing. - Swahili
12. Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living. - Ibo
Image: Green Snail, Metal African Art by Injete Chesoni
November: African Dance Quotes
1. When the music changes, so does the dance. - Nigerian Proverb
2. Even the fall of a dancer is a somersault. ~Senegalese Proverb
3. Even the best dancer on the stage must retire sometime. ~African Proverb
4. A child brought up where there is always dancing cannot fail to dance. - Nyanja
5. Leave alone a dance you are unable to perform. - Lega (DRC)
6. Even without drumbeats, banana leaves dance. ~African Proverb
7. If everyone is going to dance, who, then, would watch? ~Cameroonian Proverb
8. Dance in the sun, but turn your back to the clouds. ~Zimbabwean Proverb
9. If you are ugly, learn how to dance. ~Zambian Proverb
10. In a fiddler's house, all are dancers. ~Rwandan Proverb
11. A woman is never old when it comes to the dance she knows. ~African Proverb
12. The rich man never dances badly. ~Rwandan Proverb
13. Dance, father, people's eyes don't eat, they just stare. ~Lamba Proverb
14. If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing. ~Zimbabwe
15. The man who can't dance says the band can't play. ~Guinean Proverb
16. If you can't dance well, you'd better not get up. ~Nigerian Proverb
17. Bad dancing does not break an engagement. ~Kenyan Proverb
Image: Three Flirts, Metal Art Card by Injete Chesoni
December: Spiritual Quotes
1. When an enemy digs a grave for you, God gives you an emergency exit. - Burundi Proverb
2. If God breaks your leg, He will teach you how to limp. - Ghana
3. When God cooks, you don't see smoke. - Kaonde (Zambia) Proverb
4. God is a great eye. He sees everything in the world.
5. He who trusts in God lacks nothing. - Swahili
6. God does not conceal a hypocrite or liar. - Swahili
7. Where there are many people, there God is. - Swahili
8. A house that is built by God will be completed. - Ethiopia
9. God exercises vengeance in silence. - Burundi and Rwanda
10. God goes above any shield. - Rwanda
11. When you throw a stone at God, it lands right on top of your head.
12. It is only God that saves a cow that has no tail from flies.
13. God is never in a hurry, but He is always there at the proper time. - Ethiopia
14. God is sharper than a razor. - Kenya
15. God knows the things of tomorrow. - Burundi
16. God is our neighbour when our brother is absent. - Swahili
17. God gives nothing to those who keep their arms crossed. - African Proverb
18. When one is in trouble, one remembers God. - Nigeria
Image: Praying Hands, Religious Metal Art Card by Injete Chesoni
African Proverbs Resource Links
- African Proverbs on Wikiquotes
African quotes and proverbs from various countries.
- African Proverbs for Women
African proverbs about women, friendship and motherhood.
- African Quotes
African quotes on a variety of topics.
- African Proverbs and Interpretations
Comprehensive African proverbs resource. Includes interpretations, essays and proverb origins.