African Proverbs

-The person who is not hungry says that the coconut has a hard shell.

-Smooth seas do not make for a skillful sailor.

-A wise man who knows proverbs, reconciles difficulties.
Ashanti of Ghana

-Rain beats a leopard’s skin, but it does not wash out the spots.
Ashanti of Ghana

-One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.
Ashanti of Ghana

-Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.
Ashanti of Ghana

-The moon moves slowly, but it crosses the town.
Ashanti of Ghana

-The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.
Ashanti of Ghana

-When the cock is drunk, he forgets about the hawk.
Ashanti of Ghana

-There is no medicine to cure hatred.
Ashanti of Ghana

When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful.
Ashanti of Ghana

By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed.
Ashanti of Ghana

It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man.
Ashanti of Ghana

Money is sharper than a sword.
Ashanti of Ghana

When you are rich, you are hated; when you are poor, you are despised.
Ashanti of Ghana

It is Mr. Old-Man-Monkey who marries Mrs. Old-Woman-Monkey.
Ashanti of Ghana

No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
Ashanti of Ghana

Two men in a burning house must not stop to argue.
Ashanti of Ghana

He who is guilty is the one that has much to say.
Ashanti

He is a fool whose sheep runs away twice.
Ashanti

If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.
Ashanti

To engage in conflict, one does not bring a knife that cuts -but a needle that sews.
Bahumaba

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.
Bondei

Sickness accompanies a waning moon; a new moon cures disease.
Buganda

When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly.
Buganda

A strawberry blossom will not sweeten dry bread.
Buganda

Water always finds a way out.
Cameroon

Do not step on the dog’s tail, and he will not bite you.
Cameroon

He who asks questions, cannot avoid the answers.
Cameroon

The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water.
Cameroon

The cricket cries, the year changes.
Cameroon

Thought breaks the heart.
Cameroon

Rain does not fall on one roof alone.
Cameroon

A chattering bird builds no nest.
Cameroon

Children are the reward of life.
Congo

Little by little grow the bananas.
Congo

Love is like a baby: it needs to be treated tenderly.
Congo

You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla.
Congo

Man is like palm-wine: when young, sweet but without strength; in old age, strong but harsh.
Congo

The friends of our friends are our friends.
Congo

Death does not sound a trumpet.
Congo

No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.
Congo

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

Sleep is the cousin of death.
Congo

Those who are absent are always wrong.
Congo

A single bracelet does not jingle.
Congo

Pride only goes the length one can spit.
Congo

Taking water from the same well doesn’t make all the wives’ gravy taste good.
Cote D’Ivorie

When your neighbour is wrong you point a finger, but when you are wrong you hide.
Ekonda

To one who does not know, a who garden is a forest.
Ethiopia

When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow.
Ethiopia

Evil enters like a needle and spreads like a oak tree.
Ethiopia

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
Ethiopia

Restless feet may walk into a snake pit.
Ethiopia

Snake at your feet a stick at your hand!
Ethiopia

The witness of a rat is another rat.
Ethiopia

He who learns, teaches.
Ethiopia

Woman without man is like a field without seed.
Ethiopia

Unless you call out, who will open the door?
Ethiopia

When the heart overflows, it comes out through the mouth.
Ethiopia

You cannot build a house for last year’s summer.
Ethiopia

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
Ethiopia

The fool speaks, the wise man listens.
Ethiopia

A cat may go to a monastery, but she still remains a cat.
Ethiopia

A silly daughter teaches her mother how to bear children.
Ethiopia

It is easy to become a monk in one’s old age.
Ethiopia

The fool is thirsty in the midst of water.
Ethiopia

One’s name remains above the grave.
Ethiopia

As the wound inflames the finger, so thought inflames the mind.
Ethiopia-Oromo

Move your neck according to the music.
Ethiopia-Oromo

One is born, one dies; the land increases.
Ghana

Two waterfalls do not hear each other.
Gikuyu

When you see clouds gathering, prepare to catch rainwater.
Gola

One camel does not make fun of the other camel’s hump.
Guinea

A good deed is something one returns.
Guinea

He who does not cultivate his field, will die of hunger.
Guinea

Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.
Guinea

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
Guinea

Death is like a robe everyone has to wear.
Guinea (Mandingo)

Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living.
Ibo

When the brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate.
Ibo

God! I am in your hands! What you say will happen! Nothing baffles you!
Ibo

Words are sweet, but they never take the place of food.
Ibo

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

The death of an elderly man is like a burning library.
Ivorian

We will water the thorn for the sake of the rose.
Kanem

Hope is the pillar of the world.
Kanuri

After a foolish deed comes remorse.
Kenya

Talking with one another is loving one another.
Kenya

Good millet is known at the harvest.
Liberia

A little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing.
Madagascar

Life is a shadow and a mist; it passes quickly by and is no more.
Madagascar

Death is like a robe that everyone has to wear.
Mandingo

A child without a mother is like a fish in shallow water.
Mynamar

Earth is the queen of beds.
Namibia

The voyager’s path is marked by the stars and not the sand dunes.
Nilotic

A friend is someone you share the path with.
Nilotic

He who marries a beauty marries trouble.
Nigeria

When one is in trouble, one remembers God.
Nigeria

Time destroys all things.
Nigeria

Without retaliation, evils would one day become extinct from the world.
Nigeria

If you have one finger pointing at somebody, you have three pointing towards yourself.
Nigeria

You don’t need pain killers for another man’s headache.
Nigeria (Igala)

God does not sleep.
Nigerian (Bette)

Supposing doesn’t fill the grain basket; ‘if’ doesn’t fill the larder.
Ovambo

If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building, or do you change the nail?
Rwanda

If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips.
Rwanda

An intelligent enemy is better than a stupid friend.
Senegal

Equality is not easy, but superiority is painful.
Serere

It is better to be loved than feared.
Sierra Leone

A big fish is caught with big bait.
Sierra Leone

A cow must graze where she is tied.
Sierra Leone

Do not tell the man who is carrying you that he stinks.
Sierra Leone

He who does not seize opportunity today, will be unable to seize tomorrow’s opportunity.
Somali

The most dangerous thing a man needs is woman.
Somali

Do not call to a dog with a whip in your hand.
Sudan

The wind does not break a tree that bends.
Sukuma

He who tells the truth is never wrong.
Swahili

To be without a friend is to be poor indeed.
Tanzania

A roaring lion kills no game.
Tanzania

The tears running down your face do not blind you.
Togolese

In all the world, things are two and two.
Uganda

Water that has been begged for does not quench the thirst.
Uganda

It takes a whole village to raise a child
Yoruba

Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.
Yoruba

A proverb is the horse that can carry one swiftly to the discovery of ideas.
Yoruba

If you damage the character of another, you damage your own.
Yoruba

Work is the medicine for poverty.
Yoruba

The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine.
Yoruba

The horse that arrives early gets good drinking water.
Zulu

Copying everyone else all the time, the monkey one day cut his throat.
Zulu

He who hates, hates himself.
Zulu

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Proverbs are the daughters of experience.

If you’re not living on the edge… you’re taking up too much room.

Knowledge is not the main thing, but deeds.

The miserly man is like a fattened ox: he will give of his fat only when he has been deprived of his life.

He who runs after good fortune runs away from peace.

The heart of man and the bottom of the sea are unfathomable.

Men fall only in order to rise.

God conceals himself from the mind of man, but reveals himself to his heart.

Call kinship with the hyena, and all hyenas are your friend.

Oh hyena, don’t give me excuse to eat me.

Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

As the dog said, ‘If I fall down for you and you fall down for me, it is playing.’

The axe forgets; the tree remembers.

When the mouse laughs at the cat there’s a hole nearby.

The teeth are smiling, but is the heart?

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Riddle Proverbs of SouthWest Africa

The thorn of an Omugowle tree pierced the foot of an elephant;
A mushroom pierced the back of a termite hill.

Big-nose has not blown his nose;
Big feet has not softened the road.

A long millet brought birds to the fields:
A long entranceway brought war (quarrels) to the house.

Two birds on one reed;
Two paths to the watering hole.

A termite nest is the pole (shoe) of the earth;
Clouds are the pillars of the sky.

This and that palm tree, from which one will you tear a leaf;
Here and there a road, which one will you take?

The reed I have not eaten is that of tobacco;
The road I have not walked is that of the sky.

Though you sweep the hut in a sand flat, the sand will not disappear;
No matter how much you mourn your dead mother she will not return.

A little bird does not fly into the arrow;
A woman’s sex organ does not come to a man’s penis.

There is not one piece of a pot that was not a pot before;
Even old was once young.

-If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.
African Proverbs