100 African Proverbs I Always Keep With Myself

nyan_lgAbundance of nature has led Africans to spent more time in contemplation than fighting for survival. They became too passive for their own good!

Although knowledge is not always transmitted in written form in Africa, there is a widespread culture of opening the doors of perception for young people and fools with timely release of wisdom nuggets, also called proverbs.

Herodotus (Greek historian c. 484–425 BC) called Africans these  “wisemen occupying the Upper Nile, men of long life, whose manners and customs pertain to the Golden Age, those virtuous mortals whose feasts and banquets are honoured by Jupiter himself’.” – Sacred texts

There are thousands of proverbs and aphorisms around the continent, but the premiere of all is the following:

“The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat.” ~ African proverb

Now, here are my favorite 100+ African proverbs I always keep with myself.

African proverbs on Peace and Leadership

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. There can be no peace without understanding. ~Senegalese proverb

 

6. Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully. ~ African proverb

 

7. If you can’t resolve your problems in peace, you can’t solve them with war. ~ Somalian proverb

 

8. When there is peace in the country, the chief does not carry a shield. ~Ugandan proverb

 

9. Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. ~ West African proverb

 

10. He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk. ~ Malawian proverb

 

11. An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. ~ Ghanaian proverb

 

12. He who refuses to obey cannot command. ~ Kenyan proverb

 

13. A large chair does not make a king. ~ Sudanese proverb

 

14. A leader who does not take advice is not a leader. ~ Kenyan proverb

 

15. If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a body-guard. ~ Sierra Leone proverb

 

African Proverbs on Beauty

16. Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

17. If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

18. You are beautiful because of your possessions. ~Baguirmi Proverb

 

19. Patience is the mother of a beautiful child. ~Bantu Proverb

 

20. Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you. ~African Proverb

 

21. The most beautiful fig may contain a worm. ~Zulu Proverb

 

22. It is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir. ~African Proverb

 

23. There is always a winner even in a monkey’s beauty contest. ~African Proverb

 

24. An ugly child of your own is more to you than a beautiful one belonging to your neighbor. ~Ganda Proverb

 

25. Getting only a beautiful woman is like planting a vine on the roadside everyone feeds on it. ~African Proverb

 

26. If you find “Miss This Year” beautiful, then you’ll find “Miss Next Year” even more so. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

African Proverbs on Unity and Community

27. Unity is strength, division is weakness. ~ Swahili proverb

 

28. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~ Bondei proverb

 

29. It takes a village to raise a child. ~ African proverb

 

30. Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African proverb

 

31. Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper. ~ Tanzanian proverb

 

32. A single bracelet does not jingle. ~ Congolese proverb

 

33. A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn. ~ African proverb

 

34. If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb

 

African Proverbs on Wisdom

35. Wisdom is wealth. ~ Swahili

 

36. Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb

 

37. The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb

 

38. Wisdom does not come overnight. ~ Somali proverb

 

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

 

40. Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ~ Hema (DRC) proverb

 

41. Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb

 

42. Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb

 

43. In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb

 

44. If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

 

45. A wise person will always find a way. ~ Tanzanian proverb

 

46. Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb

 

47. A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb

 

48. Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb

 

African Proverbs  on Learning

49. Learning expands great souls. ~ Namibian proverb

 

50. To get lost is to learn the way. ~ African proverb

 

51. By crawling a child learns to stand. ~ African proverb

 

52. If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents. ~ African proverb

 

53. Money, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases. ~ Swahili proverb

 

54. You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win. ~ African proverb

 

55. You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb

 

56. What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn. ~African proverb

 

57. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed. ~Ashanti proverb

 

58. One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom. ~ African proverb

 

59. Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off. ~African Proverb

 

60. Advice is a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day. ~Malagasy Proverb

 

African Proverbs on Family

61. 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. ~ African Proverb

 

62. A united family eats from the same plate. ~ Baganda proverb

 

63. If I am in harmony with my family, that’s success. ~ Ute proverb

 

64. Brothers love each other when they are equally rich. ~ African proverb

 

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

 

66. There is no fool who is disowned by his family. ~ African proverb

 

67. Home affairs are not talked about on the public square. ~ African proverb

 

68. If relatives help each other, what evil can hurt them? ~ African proverb

 

69. He who earns calamity, eats it with his family. ~ African proverb

 

70. 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 (Ghana, Ivory Coast) proverb

 

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

 

African Proverbs on Friendship

72. To be without a friend is to be poor indeed. ~ Tanzanian proverb

 

73. Hold a true friend with both hands. ~ African proverb

 

74. The friends of our friends are our friends. ~ Congolese proverb

 

75. A friend is someone you share the path with. ~ African proverb

 

76. Show me your friend and I will show you your character. ~ African proverb

 

77. Between true friends even water drunk together is sweet enough. ~ African proverb

 

78. A small house will hold a hundred friends. ~ African proverb

 

79. Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends. ~ Gabon proverb

 

African Proverbs on Money, Wealth, Riches and Poverty

80. Make some money but don’t let money make you. ~ Tanzania

 

81. Poverty is slavery. ~Somalia

 

82. One cannot both feast and become rich. ~ Ashanti

 

83. The wealth which enslaves the owner isn’t wealth. ~ Yoruba

 

84. Lack of money is lack of friends; if you have money at your disposal, every dog and goat will claim to be related to you. ~ Yoruba

 

85. Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat; it is just that no one ever gives them meat. ~ Akan

 

86. Money can’t talk, yet it can make lies look true. ~ South Africa

 

87. You become wise when you begin to run out of money. ~ Ghana

 

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

 

African Proverbs on Beauty

89. Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

90. If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

91. You are beautiful because of your possessions. ~Baguirmi Proverb

 

92. Patience is the mother of a beautiful child. ~Bantu Proverb

 

93. Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you. ~African Proverb

 

94. The most beautiful fig may contain a worm. ~Zulu Proverb

 

95. It is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir. ~African Proverb

 

96. There is always a winner even in a monkey’s beauty contest. ~African Proverb

 

97. An ugly child of your own is more to you than a beautiful one belonging to your neighbor. ~Ganda Proverb

 

98. Getting only a beautiful woman is like planting a vine on the roadside everyone feeds on it. ~African Proverb

 

99. If you find “Miss This Year” beautiful, then you’ll find “Miss Next Year” even more so. ~Nigerian Proverb

 

African Proverbs on Love and Marriage Quotes

100. Where there is love there is no darkness. ~Burundian proverb

 

101. If you are ugly you must either learn to dance or make love. ~ Zimbabwean Proverb

 

102. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better. ~ Wolof proverb

 

103. A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries. ~ African proverb

 

104. If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is. ~ Egyptian proverb

 

105. Love never gets lost it’s only kept. ~ African proverb

 

106. Love has to be shown by deeds not words. ~ Swahili proverb

 

107. Love is a despot who spares no one. ~Namibian proverb

 

African Proverbs on Patience

108. Patience is the key which solves all problems. ~ Sudanese proverb

 

109. To run is not necessarily to arrive. ~ Swahili proverb

 

110. Patience can cook a stone. ~ African proverb

 

111. A patient man will eat ripe fruit. ~ African proverb

 

112. At the bottom of patience one finds heaven. ~ African proverb

 

113. Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far. ~ Swahili proverb

 

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

 

115. However long the night, the dawn will break. ~ African proverb

 

African Proverbs on Food

116. Don’t take another mouthful before you have swallowed what is in your mouth. ~Malagasy Proverb

 

117. A healthy person who begs for food is an insult to a generous farmer. ~Ghanaian Proverb

 

118. A dog knows the places he is thrown food. ~Acholi Proverb

 

119. One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of the food with others. ~African Proverb

 

120. Man is like a pepper, till you have chewed it you do not know how hot it is. ~Haussa Proverb

 

121. No one gets a mouthful of food by picking between another person’s teeth. ~Igbo Proverb

 

122. If you watch your pot, your food will not burn. ~Mauritanian, Nigerian, and Niger Proverb

 

123. You cannot tell a hungry child that you gave him food yesterday. ~Zimbabwean Proverb

 

124. However little food we have, we’ll share it even if it’s only one locust. ~Malagasy Proverb

 

125. Good words are food, bad words poison. ~Malagasy Proverb

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About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of SiliconAfrica.com, Founder of Goodbuzz.net, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at mk@linkcrafter.com.

17 Responses to “100 African Proverbs I Always Keep With Myself”

  1. A.S.D. Lungi dall'essere Lungi

    Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. ~ West African proverb
    This is the favourite proverb of British and French Imperialists.

    Reply
  2. aa

    some of the proverbs are pretty much trash. stopped reading after #18

    Reply
  3. ngandeu

    i’m just discovering this fantatic site thanks to afriend.
    i really appreciated it and will share it with my familly and friends.
    You are making a good job!

    Reply
  4. Dr fel

    If you have been able to set a trap for an old lady to fall, what do you care where she falls_ Akan Ghana proverb

    Reply
  5. Chidi Nwakpuda

    "The Egyptian in general is simple, cheerful and

    p. 74

    hospitable. These are genuine African traits. The fellahs are a quiet, contented, submissive race. Amrou says, that they have always been toiling for others never for themselves. The love of the fellah for his native Egypt is deep and absorbing. Remove him and he perishes. He would rather die than revolt."
    This is SO pathetic of us Africans. This is very true and annoying, we will only continue to lose ground if we keep letting foreigners–the Chinese, the Indian, Whites, etc. come exploiting the land and its resources, and clearly not holding genuine respect for the people.

    "The armies of ancient Egypt were led and very largely manned in the days of her supremacy by the Ethiopian element, which today is much more warlike than the fellah.(!!!!!!) Egyptians make themselves cripples to escape military service. This would also lead us to decide that it was the Old Race, not these, who extended themselves over so great an area of the ancient world.

    Because of mistreatment the Egyptian of today resorts to fraud, trickery, and subterfuge, that is easily detected."

    Reply
  6. Thanga

    I love the richness of my great Africa, these proverbs are really to helps us learn not repeat them.

    Reply

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