Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

African Proverb

I hope you enjoy some of these classic African proverbs.  (Click each one to find it’s translation and full meaning)

Enjoy, yours truely Son of Five Rivers

Sep 2009: “The one who milks the cow is not the same person as the one who removes (plucks out) ticks from a cow.” – Gikuyu (Kenya) Proverb
Aug. 2009: “Nobody kills an ignorant person who begs for wisdom.” – Mafa (Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger) Proverb
Jul. 2009: “There is no hyena without a friend.” – Meru (Kenya) Proverb
Jun. 2009: “Go in that direction” does not mean that you go. To go means, “let’s go together!” – Sena (Mozambique) Proverb
May 2009: “A thieving dog knows itself.” – Luyia (Kenya) Proverb
Apr. 2009: “Alive, we live in the same house or under the same roof. Dead, we rest in the same tomb.” – Malagasy (Madagascar) Proverb
Mar. 2009: “If you get a fine harvest of maize don’t break your local brotherhood and sisterhood.” – Bembe (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC, Tanzania) Proverb
Feb. 2009: “An elder’s handbag is never completely empty.” – Acholi (Uganda, Sudan) Proverb
Jan. 2009: “The hunger that has hope for its satisfaction does not kill.” – Igbo (Nigeria) Proverb
Dec. 2008: “When a leaf falls to the ground, the tree gets the blame/the shame goes to the tree.” – Nyanja (Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Chewa (Malawi) Proverb
Nov. 2008: “It is only a male elephant that can save another one from a pit.” – Lega (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC) Proverb
Oct. 2008: “A deaf ear is followed by death and an ear that listens is followed by blessings.” – Samburu (Kenya) Proverb
Sep. 2008: “A stubborn person sails in a clay boat.” – Haya (Tanzania) Proverb
Aug. 2008: “A chicken that keeps scratching the dung-hill will soon find the mother’s thigh bones.” Ewe (Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Togo) Proverb
Jul. 2008: “A child of the kwale bird learns how to fly.” – Tonga (Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe) Proverb
Jun. 2008: “Great fires erupt from tiny sparks.” – Arabic (Libya) Proverb
May 2008: “A tree is known by its fruit. ” – Zulu (South Africa, Swaziland) Proverb
Apr. 2008: “The water pot presses upon the small circular pad.” – Acholi (Uganda) Proverb
Mar. 2008: “Leave bad things, talk peace.” – Sheng (Kenya) Sayings
Feb. 2008: “When God cooks, you don’t see smoke.” – Kaonde (Zambia) Proverb
Jan. 2008: “I have been bitten by a tsetse fly.” – Sukuma (Tanzania) Proverb

Jan. 2007: “Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper.” – Haya (Tanzania) Proverb
Feb. 2007: “Love is blind.” – Mende (Sierra Leone) Proverb
Mar. 2007: “The one who fetches the water is the one who is likely to break the pot.” – Ga (Ghana) Proverb
Apr. 2007: “If you provoke a rattlesnake, you must be prepared to be bitten by it .” – Gikuyu (Kenya) Proverb
May 2007: “Beer that will spoil ferments unequally.” – Luyia (Kenya) Proverb
Jun. 2007: “The thing that will hurt you will always keep on coming back even if you try to avoid it.” – Shubi (Tanzania) Proverb
Jul. 2007: “The camel does not see the bend in its neck.” – Arabic (Libya) Proverb
Aug. 2007: “A child or youth who does not listen to an elder’s advice gets his or her leg broken.” – Nyanja (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia) Proverb
Sep. 2007: “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” – Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa) Proverb
Oct. 2007: “Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem.” – Akan (Ghana) Proverb
Nov. 2007: “The lead cow (the one in front) gets whipped the most.” – Zulu (South Africa, Swaziland) Proverb
Dec. 2007: “It is not the cook’s fault when the cassava turns out to be hard and tasteless.” – Ewe-mina (Benin, Ghana, and Togo) Proverb
Jan. 2006: “The (word) of a friend makes you cry; the (word) of an enemy makes you laugh.” – Tuareg (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) Proverb
Feb. 2006: “Une pierre de chez soi vaut dix de l’oued” – Southern Tashelhayt Berber (Algeria, Morocco) Proverb
Mar. 2006: “A warthog eating its fill does not delight a pig.” – Sena (Mozambique) Proverb
Apr. 2006: “Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story.” – Ewe-mina (Benin, Ghana, and Togo) Proverb
May 2006: “A debt is not a loss once one knows the debtor.” – Tembo (Democratic Republic of Congo) Proverb
Jun. 2006: “Suffering is prior to attaining success or perfection.” – Chagga (Tanzania) Proverb
Jul. 2006: “The chief’s son has to collect firewood when destiny destroys him.” – Moru (Sudan) Proverb
Aug. 2006: “Don’t ask for Glasgow when you have already reached London.” – Subi (Tanzania) Proverb
Sep. 2006: “When you sort out the grains, it becomes pure.” – Tigrinya (Eritrea, Ethiopia) Proverb
Oct. 2006: “A rich person does not have to struggle, that is, share the problems of ordinary people.” – Shubi (Tanzania) Proverb
Nov. 2006: “The dog does not worry when the chicken runs over to the bones” – Ewe-mina (Benin, Ghana and Togo) Proverb
Dec. 2006: “Unity is strength.” – Ganda (Uganda) Proverb
Jan. 2005: “The cure of the Ma’di is Ma’di.” – Ma’di (Sudan, Uganda) Proverb
Feb. 2005: “Termites cause death, damage, and great harm to white ants.” – Luo (Kenya, Tanzania) Proverb
Mar. 2005: “How are things? Cool! ” – Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa) Proverb
Apr. 2005: “The one who eats has tasted the hardship of labor.” – Tembo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Proverb
May 2005: “The pants of today are better than the breeches of tomorrow.” – Moore (Burkina Faso) Proverb
Jun. 2005: “If you do not listen to good advice, you will be embarrassed in public.” – Oshiwambo (Namibia) Proverb
Jul. 2005: “To punch with a strong fist, you need to turn over your hand.” – Kongo (Angola and DRC) Proverb
Aug. 2005: “Swallow saliva before you cross a one-log bridge.” – Ngoni (Tanzania, Mozambique) Proverb
Sep. 2005: “Provided no person stunts or destroys a sprouting palm kernel seedling, it will definitely grow into a palm tree.” – Esan (Nigeria) Proverb
Oct. 2005: “Kutokana na woga, kobe alikufa mashuani.” – Lugbara (Uganda and DRC) Proverb
Nov. 2005: “The person who has eaten and satisfied himself or herself does not care for the one who is hungry.” – Matengo (Tanzania) Proverb
Dec. 2005: “Patience can cook a stone.” – Fulfulde (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, and Togo) Proverb
Jan. 2004 Proverb: “The thorn in your foot is temporarily appeased, but it is still in.” – Longo (Tanzania)
Feb. 2004 Proverb: “An empty stomach can make a person lose his or her cattle; that is, when the stomach is empty the legs become weak and you can’t run after your animals.” – Toposa (Sudan)
Mar. 2004 Proverb: “Cannot Ngorulahi be satisfied and Ngarambangandu miss the chance?” – Mpoto (Malawi, Tanzania)
Apr. 2004 Proverb: “If you refuse the advice of an elder you will walk until sunset.” – Kuria (Kenya, Tanzania)
May, 2004 Proverb: “After hardship comes relief.” – Arabic (Egypt and other North African countries)
Jun. 2004 Proverb: “Hot water does not burn down the house.” – Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa)
Jul. 2004 Proverb: “The person who tends to ingratiate himself to his father without involving others never inherits the father’s property.” – Gusii (Kenya)
Aug. 2004 Proverb: “The eyes of the wise person see through you.” – Haya (Tanzania)
Sep. 2004 Proverb: “If God breaks your leg, He will teach you how to limp.” – Dagbani (Ghana)
Oct. 2004 Proverb: “One who relates with a corrupt person likewise gets corrupted.” – Gikuyu (Kenya)
Nov. 2004 Proverb: “It’s better to give than to receive.” – Malagasy (Madagascar)
Dec. 2004 Proverb: “A boisterous horse needs a boisterous bridle.” – Hausa (Nigeria)
January, 2003 Proverb: “A chicken eats corn, drinks water and swallows little pebbles, but still complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth would she eat steel?” – Yoruba and Idanre (Nigeria)
February, 2003 Proverb: “An eye that you treat is the one that turns against you.” – Luo (Kenya, Tanazania)
March, 2003 Proverb: “Cows are born with ears; later they grow horns.” – Nuba-Tira (Sudan)
April, 2003 Proverb: “Use of brains begets wealth.” – Sheng (Kenya)
May, 2003 Proverb: “The tears of the orphan run inside.” – Mafa (Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger)
June, 2003 Proverb: “Like vomit and shit under your feet (the rumormonger spreads scandal).” – Sumbwa (Tanzania)
July, 2003 Proverb: “When a tree falls on a yam farm and kills the farm’s owner, you don’t waste time counting the numbers of yam hips ruined.” – Igala (Nigeria)
August, 2003 Proverb: “Walk on a fresh tree, the dry one will break.” – Bena (Tanzania)
September, 2003 Proverb: “Where there is peace, a billhook (sickle) can be used to shave your beard or cut your hair.” – Rundi (Burundi)
October, 2003 Proverb: “The hen with baby chicks doesn’t swallow the worm.” – Sukuma (Tanzania)
November, 2003 Proverb: “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)
December, 2003 Proverb: “The beer is difficult to strain.” – Anyuak (Ethiopia)
Jan. 2002 Proverb: ” Where there is a will there is a way.” – Shona (Zimbabwe)
Feb. 2002 Proverb: ” A Tutsi liked to warm himself by the fire; someone else took the bull.” – Zinza ( Tanzania)
Mar. 2002 Proverb: ” A fool has many days.” – Tharaka, Gikuyu (Kenya)
Apr. 2002 Proverb: ” Slowly, slowly, porridge goes into the gourd.” – Kuria ( Kenya, Tanzania)
May/Jun. 2002 Proverb: ” What is in the stomach carries what is in the head.” – Bukusu (Kenya)
Jul. 2002 Proverb: “The person who has a light knee can survive longer.” – Toposa (Sudan)
Aug. 2002 Proverb: ” Smoke does not affect honeybees alone; honey-gatherers are also affected.” – Bassa (liberia)
Sep. 2002 Proverb: ” Young growing cuttings determine a good harvest of cassava.” – Tonga (Malawi)
Oct. 2002 Proverb: ” You cannot use a wild banana leaf to shield yourself from the rains and then tear it to pieces later when the rains come to an end.” – Nandi (Kenya)
Nov. 2002 Proverb: ” Words are like bullets; if they escape, you can’t catch them again.” – Wolof (Senegal , Gambia)
Dec. 2002 Proverb: ” From the word of an elder is derived a bone.” – Rwanda (Rwanda) and Rundi (Burundi)
Jan. 2001 Proverb: “The brother or sister who does not respect the traditions of the elders will not be allowed to eat with the elders.” – Ga (Ghana)
Feb. 2001 Proverb: ” God is a great eye. He sees everything in the world.” – Balanda/Belanda Viri, Sudanese Colloquial Spoken Arabic (Sudan), Modern Standard Written Arabic (Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan)
Mar. 2001 Proverb: ” An okra tree does not grow taller than its master.” – Krio (Sierra Leone)
Apr. 2001 Proverb: ” ‘Kachenche’ (very small bird) is insignificant among strangers, but very important at home.” – Songe (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC)
May 2001 Proverb: ” A cockroach knows how to sing and dance, but it is the hen who prevents it from performing its art during the day.” – Edo (Nigeria)
Jun. 2001 Proverb: ” No matter how long a log stays in the water, it doesn’t become a crocodile.” – Bambara (Mali)
Jul. 2001 Proverb: ” War is not porridge.” – Gikuyu (Kenya)
Aug. 2001 Proverb: ” Water that has been begged for does not quench the thirst.” – Soga (Uganda)
Sep. 2001 Proverb: ” A person who does not cultivate well his or her farm always says that it has been bewitched.” – Kwaya (Tanzania)
Oct. 2001 Proverb: ” Many hands make light work.” – Haya (Tanzania)
Nov. 2001 Proverb: ” When elephants fight the grass (reeds) gets hurt.” -Swahili ( Eastern and Central Africa ), Also Kikuyu ( Kenya), Kuria ( Kenya/Tanzania), Ngoreme (Tanzania)
Dec. 2001 Proverb: “A child (young pers on) does not fear treading on dangerous ground until he or she gets hurt (stumbles).” – Bukusu ( Kenya)
Jan. 2000 Proverb: “Two bulls can’t stay in the same kraal. ” – Tswana (Botswana)
Feb. 2000 Proverb: “A tender bamboo cannot be eagerly desired (for building).” – Chewa (Malawi) and Nyanja (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia)
Mar. 2000 Proverb: “If you refuse the elder’s advice you will walk the whole day.” – Ngoreme (Tanzania)
Apr. 2000 Proverb: ” The groin pains in sympathy with the sore.” – Zulu (South Africa, Swaziland)
May 2000 Proverb: ” How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves.” – Tugen (Kenya)
Jun. 2000 Proverb: ” Even haplochromis (name of a small fish) employs tilapia (name of a large fish). ” – Luo (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda )
Jul. 2000 Proverb: ” Do not insult the hunting guide before the sun has set.” – Sukuma (Tanzania)
Aug. 2000 Proverb: ” If an arrow has not entered deeply, then its removal is not hard.” – Buli (Ghana )
Sep. 2000 Proverb: ” I have come a long way; the journey has exhausted me.” – Ngoni (Tanzania)
Oct. 2000 Proverb: ” The hyena with a cub does not eat up (consume) all the available food.” – Akamba (Kenya)
Nov. 2000 Proverb: ” The eyes of the trapper are as subject to reddening as those of the small animal (that he pursues).” – Ganda (Uganda)
Dec. 2000 Proverb: ” A person who is not disciplined cannot be cautioned.” – Haya (Tanzania)
Jan. 1999: “By persevering the egg walks on legs. ” – Oromo (Ethiopia)Proverb
Feb. 1999: “One who enters the forest does not listen to the breaking of the twigs in the brush. ” – Bemba (Zambia) Proverb
Mar. 1999: “Let the guest come so that the host or hostess may benefit (get well).” – Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa) Proverb
Apr. 1999: “One person is thin porridge or gruel; two or three people are a lump (handful) of ugali (stiff cooked meal/flour from sorghum or millet). – Kuria (Tanzania and Kenya) Proverb
May 1999: “The “hurry-hurry” person eats goat; the one who takes his or her time (or hesitates) eats beef. ” – Sesotho (Lesotho and South Africa) Proverb
Jun. 1999: “When an enemy digs a grave for you, God gives you an emergency exit ” – Kirundi (Burundi) Proverb
Jul. 1999: “Better a curtain hanging motionless than a flag blowing in the wind.” – Swahili (Eastern and Central Africa) Proverb
Aug. 1999: “When the bag tears, the shoulders get a rest.” Twi (Ghana) Proverb
Sep. 1999: “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” – Fanti (Ghana) Proverb
Oct. 1999: “The bush in which you hide has eyes.” – Gusii (Kenya) Proverb
Nov. 1999: “One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold.” – Fipa (Tanzania) Proverb
Dec. 1999: ” The wasp says that several regular trips to a mud pit enables it to build a house.” – Ewe (Benin, Ghana and Togo) Proverb
Jun. 1998: “I pointed out to you the stars (the moon) and all you saw was the tip of my finger.” – Sukuma (Tanzania) Proverb
Jul. 1998: “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” – Akan and Ewe (Benin, Ghana and Togo) Proverb
Aug. 1998: “The person who has not traveled widely thinks his or her mother is the only cook (the best cook).” – Ganda (Uganda) Proverb
Sep. 1988: “It [a bug] grows up in dry wood, and yet comes to maturity.” – Gikuyu (Kenya) Proverb
Oct. 1998: “If you have no teeth, do not break the clay cooking pot.” – Chewa (Malawi) Proverb
Nov. 1998: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” – Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb
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September 16, 2009 - Posted by | Quotes | , ,

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