African proverbs

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search

Proverbs from all of Africa.


  • A thorn can be removed by another thorn.
    • Meaning: Atfer a break-up, a woman can be replaced by another woman. A man can be replaced by another man.
  • A wise man sees further seated, than a boy up on a tree.




  • Don't look where you fell, but where you slipped.
    • English equivalent: Today is yesterday's pupil.
    • Sr, Neil, Neil, Neal (2011). Police Instructor: Deliver Dynamic Presentations, Create Engaging Slides, \& Increase Active Learning. CreateSpace. p. 245. ISBN 1. 
  • Don’t set sail using someone else’s star.


  • Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
    It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
    Every morning a lion wakes up.
    It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
    It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
    When the sun comes up, you better start running.

Those who are controlled by drowsiness are fools, but those who control their sleep are wise -- By Tafara Musenga.


  • The rock that is in the middle of the sea can't hear the rain.

MEANING--You don't feel the pain of something you always do. A Nigerian proverb from Tahiru Ahmed,Damboa Borno State.


  • One hand cannot wash itself.

Meaning: You need others to succeed in life.



  • The jollof on top of the cooler was once at the bottom of the pot.

by Mathew Adebunmi.

  • The sun is the king of torches.
    • West African proverb, quoted in Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages : Classified Subjectively and Arranged Alphabetically (1887) by Robert Christy, p. 322
  • Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
    • Prospectus, Goldman (2011). Baseball Prospectus 2011. John Wiley \& Sons. p. 496. ISBN 0470622067. 
  • East African proverb, The man who hangs around a beautiful girl without proposing to her, ends up fetching water for guests at her wedding.
    • You need to act fast. There are somethings that you have to say right on time.


  • You condemn on hearsay evidence alone, your sins increase.
    • Latin equivalent: When in doubt, in favour of the accused.
    • Anonymous quoted in Apropos of Africa : Sentiments of Negro American Leaders on Africa from the 1800s to the 1950s (1969) edited by Adelaide Cromwell Hill and Martin Kilson

See also[edit]