“We are not a people of yesterday. Do they ask how many single seasons we have flowed from our beginnings till now? We shall point them to the proper beginning of counting. On a clear night when the light of the moon has blighted the ancient woman and her seven children, on such a night tell them to go alone into the world. There have them count first the one, then the seven and after the seven all the other stars visible to their eyes alone. After that beginning they will be ready for the sand. Let them seek the sealine. They will not have to ponder where to start. Have them count the sand. Let them count it grain from single grain. And after they have reached the end of that counting we shall not ask them to number the raindrops in the ocean. But with the wisdom of the aftermath have them ask us again how many seasons have flowed by since our people were unborn.” ~from two thousand seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah

“Afrika — the second largest continent in the world with an area of twelve million square miles — stands at the very beginning of the origin of humanity.” People have lived on the continent longer than anywhere else on the earth. The history of Afrika was already old when other nations were born. For over hundreds of thousands of years, Afrika’s people have produced an abundance of proverbs to offer guidance and inspiration. Some of the proverbs have self-evident meaning requiring no explanation; while others are like riddles requiring reflection, or maturity for understanding. Proverbs are assigned such great importance in Afrikan cultures, that those who are able to use proverbs effectively in speech and conversation are held in high esteem in Afrikan societies. “Indeed, it may be said that without a proverb, Afrikans are rarely considered eloquent.” According to the Yoruba of Nigeria, “a wise man who knows proverbs reconciles difficulties.” Also, according to Chinua Achebe, “Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.”

Let these Afrikan Proverbs inspire you.


Loving You by OLUMIDE EGUNLAE

1. Where there is love, there is no darkness. ~Burundian


2. There are three friends in life: courage, sense and insight. ~Hausa


3. Beauty is half a God-given favour; intelligence a whole one. ~Fulani


4. Don’t be afraid to look at your faults. ~Yoruba


5. If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. ~Uganda


6. Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. ~ Ethiopian


7. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~Afrikan


8. The creator has created lands with lakes and rivers for man to live. And the desert so that he can find his soul. ~Tuareg


9. When a man is stung, he doesn’t destroy all beehives. ~Kenyan


10. The big game often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day. ~Igbo


11. A fully grown up tree cannot be bent into a walking stick. ~Kenyan


12. Anticipate the good so that you may enjoy it. ~Ethiopian


13. May the creator preserve us from ‘If I had known’! ~Hausa


14. Before healing others, heal yourself. ~Wolof


15. Haste has no blessing. ~Swahili


16. Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands. ~Nigerian


17. Silence is also a speech. ~Fulani


18. Around a flowering tree there are many insects. ~Guinean


19. One who rides the horse of greed at a gallop will pull it up at the door of shame. ~Fulani


20. Do not beat a drum with an axe. ~Ghanaian


21. Wisdom is like hair, everyone has their own.” ~Swahili


22. One does not rub backs with a porcupine. (Don’t get involved with someone who can hurt you.) ~Ashanti


23. No matter how hot your anger is it cannot cook yams. ~Nigeria


24. I Will Do It Later On is a brother to I Didn’t Do It. ~Ashanti


25. Be it wickedness or be it goodness, neither goes unrequited. ~Yoruba


26. Even if you dance in water, your enemies will accuse you of causing dust. ~Zambian


27. One does not escape fate by running. ~Ibo


28. A friend is someone you share the path with. ~Afrikan


29. If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. ~Afrikan


30. We share the same sun but not our homes. ~Kenyan (Advise on taking care of one’s own business.)


31. One who damages the character of another damages his own. ~Yoruba


32. You can outdistance that which is running after you but not what is running inside you. ~Rwandan


33. Two rams cannot drink from the same bucket at the same time. ~Yoruba


34. You must live within your sacred truth. ~Hausa


35. You must eat the elephant one bite at a time. ~Twi


36. Eat when the food is ready, speak when the time is right. ~Ethiopian


37. One cannot stop sleeping because of a fear of bad dreams. ~Ethiopian


38. If you think you have someone eating out of your hands, it is a good idea to count your fingers. ~ Nigerian Proverb


39. By trying often the monkey learns to jump from the tree. ~Cameroon


Tertia du Toit

Tertia du Toit

40. If you plant turnips, you will not harvest grapes. ~Akan


41. The Elephant never gets tired of carrying his tusks. ~Liberia proverb on supporting your own people


42. When you stand with the blessings of your mother and the creator, it matters not who stands against you. ~Yoruba


43. The hands that make mistakes belong to those who work. ~Sesotho


44. The bitter heart eats it’s owner. ~Tswana


45. The family is like the forest, if you are outside it is dense, if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position. ~Akan


46. Where you sit when you are old show where you stood in youth. ~Yoruba


47. The hunter in pursuit of an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds. ~Uganda


48. You must be willing to die in order to live. ~Yoruba


49. Before shooting. One must aim. ~Nigerian


50. The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way. Akan


51. Only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet. (Don’t leap into a situation without first thinking about the consequences.)


52. By going and coming, a bird weaves its nest. ~Ashanti


53. Strategy is better than strength. ~Hausa


54. You know who you love; you cannot know who loves you. ~Yoruba


55. Every door has its own key. ~Kenyan


56. To love someone who does not love you, is like shaking a tree to make the dew drops fall. ~Congo


57. Although the snake does not fly it has caught the bird whose home is in the sky. ~Akan


58. One should keep one’s eyes on one’s destination, not on where one stumbled. ~Yoruba


Eye and Figures by Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi

59. People are a person’s medicine. ~Wolof


60. A tree does not move unless there is wind. ~ Nigerian


61. Treat the world well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was lent to you by your children. ~Kenyan


62. If we stand tall it is because we stand on the back so those who came before us. ~Yoruba


63. A student doesn’t know about masterhood but a master knows about studenthood.(A master was once a student and cannot be fooled easily.) ~Mandinka


64. The roaring lion kills no prey. ~ Nigerian Proverb


65. Having a good discussion is like having riches. ~Kenya


66. No matter how good you are to a goat it will still eat your yam. ~Nigerian


67. Lack of knowledge is darker than night. ~Hausa


68. With your hands you make your success, with you hands you destroy success. ~Yoruba


69. There is no medicine to cure hatred. ~Ashanti


70. It is the grass that suffers when elephants fight. ~Kenyan


71. Don’t fight a lion with a stick. ~Maasai


72. If you want someone more knowledgeable than yourself to identify a bird, you do not first remove the feathers. (When you want an advised judgement on something, do not withhold important facts. ~Ashanti


73. Do a thing at its time and peace follows it. ~Mandinka


74. A lie can annihilate a thousand truths. ~Ashanti


75. The rain does not recognize anyone as a friend it drenches all equally. ~ Ibo


76. The most beautiful fig may contain a worm. ~Zulu


77. Rain beats the leopard’s skin but it does not wash out the spots. ~Ghanaian


78. Learning expands great souls. ~Namibian


79. You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. (Respect and listen to your elders) ~Congo


80. Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~Ewe


81. However much it rains on you, no wild banana tree will grow on your head. ~ Kenyan


82. Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain in a bag with a hole. ~Nilotic


83. You cannot climb to the mountain top without crushing some weeds with your feet. ~Ugandan


84. A brave man dies once, a coward a thousand times. ~ Somali


85. One arrow can knock down an elephant. ~Kenyan


86. Crying a lot does not give you peace of mind. ~Burundian


87. Not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it, chased it. ~South Africa


88. Whatever is painful does not last, and whoever perseveres smiles. ~Wolof


89. A habit conquers the mind. ~Xhosa


90. No sensible person leaves a stream to drink from a pool. ~Ashanti


91. Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle. (Do not disrespect or insult someone who shares your burdens and responsibilities or who takes care of you.) ~Ashanti


92. What is unknown to you about a person’s origins will be revealed in his character. ~Wolof


93. Obstinacy does not redeem anyone. ~ Malawian


94. All heads are the same, but not all thoughts are the same. ~ Ghanaian


95. Happiness requires something to do, something to love and something to hope for. ~ Swahili


96. If you are on a road to nowhere, find another road. ~Ashanti


97. The brother or sister who does not respect the traditions of the elders will not be allowed to eat with the elders. ~Ga People of Ghana


98. If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips. ~ Rwandan


99. Little by little the bird builds its nest. ~Nigerian


100. Do not follow the path. Go where there is no path to begin the trail. ~Ashanti


If we have missed any of your favourite proverbs, we would appreciate you sharing your proverb below.

PAINTINGS:
1. Loving You by OLUMIDE EGUNLAE
40. Painting by Tertia du Toi
59. Eye and Figures by Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi

Source:
A Treasury of African Folklore by Harold Courlander
African Proverbs and Wisdom by Julia Stewart
Acts of Faith by Iyanla Vanzant
Black Pearls by Eric Copage
https://safarijunkie.com/culture/african-proverbs/

2 Responses

  1. Hubert Hintzen

    I give THANKS to Rachel Jones for sharing this post of African Pearls of Wisdom with us. As you read all 100 (One Hundred) you will find how they touch your Soul. I am an African Man and during this Gregorian Calendar Year ‘2020’ I will set foot on the soil of My Motherland — AFRIKA — This is my Destiny. I give Thanks to Our Creator for placing me on this Journey. I give Thanks to The Ancestors for Guiding me these past 86 years. I am still learning. I find that I have an entirely new approach to Living and I go about this with Love for my Brothers and Sisters.

    I now live life by the Forty-two (42) Precepts of Ma’at. Oh how this has shed Light on My Journey. Blessings to All.

    Reply

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