African Proverbs and their Meanings….

Proverbs are the guiding light to our ancestors. – Unknown

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Children who grew up in Africa are familiar with proverbs- sentences carved with deep meanings to etch principles in the minds of the younger generation and to speak in codes with friends and loved ones.

Every culture has their own proverbs and wise sayings but in Africa, it seems to be the pride of the continent’s culture. During story times, lots of these wise sayings are used by the storyteller, adding beauty to the whole experience.

Ever heard an older person serve a proverb whose meaning you didn’t understand? Here are 15 popular wise sayings that originate from Africa and their meanings;

Proverb: A child, who says his mother will not sleep, will also not sleep.
Your actions or inactions will always affect you.

Proverb: You cannot climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket.
You have to work hard in order to be successful.

Proverb: A restless feet may walk into a snake pit.
Meaning: Anyone who is busy especially with other peoples’ business can easily get into trouble.

Proverb: A roaring lion kills no one.
You cannot achieve anything by merely talking about it. Action is needed.

Proverbs: Only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet.
Meaning: You don’t jump straight into conclusion without thinking about it first.

Proverb: Rain beats the leopard’s skin but it never washes out the spots
You cannot change a person’s true character, no matter how hard you try.

Proverb: He who drags a goat to the market also finds himself in the market.
Anyone who is trying to tarnish the image of another person will also tarnish his/her image.

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Proverb: No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yams.
Meaning: Anger is not always a solution. It achieves nothing.

Proverb: You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla.
Respect and listen to your elders.

Proverb: He who is bitten by a snake fears a lizard.
You should be very careful of any situation that has hurt you before.

Proverb: Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.
It’s foolish to insult anyone that you depend upon for survival.

Proverb: The battle of grasshoppers is a feast for the hawks.
If you are not united, you open doors for attacks.

Proverb: Sugarcane is sweetest at its joint.
Good and sweet things of life may appear difficult to achieve but, in the end, it is worth it.

Proverbs: Anger and madness are brothers. Meaning: You regret action carried out in anger and people generally avoid you like a lunatic.

Proverbs: If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. Meaning: Seeing life from just one perspective makes you a narrow-minded person. Opening up to understand others makes life easier.

What interesting proverb have you heard or said? Do share with us in the comment section.

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