Oct 232016

Africa Ever the Proverb



If you don’t know the way by day never go by night.


A proverb a day for November

No magazine would be worth its salt without a proverb. We all know proverbs, those simple and solid sayings that express the basic truths of common sense. When these truisms are explaining a basic rule of conduct, they are known as maxims.

The sayings may be simple but to define a proverb is a difficult task and almost every culture has many of its own unique sayings.


A single tree cannot make a forest.

Africa is rich with proverbial sayings. The Bini of Nigeria, have three words for “proverb”: ere, ivbe, and itan. In the Chumburung language of Ghana, there are two types of proverbs, literal and metaphoric ones. Metaproverbs – “As a boy should resemble his father, so should the proverb fit the conversation.” – are often used in contemporary African literature with some of the best known ones coming from Nigeria.


Only a fool tests the depth of the river with both feet.

Here are just a few of Africa’s favorite proverbs. There are literally thousands to choose but collecting them is a slow process. Here are some we have put together, which we hope you will enjoy. And we could not say it without some of our own African images to inspire.


The moon obscures the light of a thousand stars.


  1.  “A conversation without proverbs is like stew without salt.”
  2. “Proverbs are the cream of language”
  3. “Bad leaders are elected by poor citizens who do not vote.”
  4. “One proverb gives rise to a point of discussion and another ends it.”
  5. “Better little than too little.”
  6. “Only a fool tests the depth of the river with both feet.”
  7. “A flea can trouble a lion more than a lion can trouble a flea.”
  8. “A child is a child of everyone.”
  9. “Birds sing not because they have answers but because they have songs.”
  10. “If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.”
  11. “As a boy should resemble his father, so should the proverb fit the conversation?”
  12. “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.”
  13. “Whoever has seen enough of life will be able to tell a lot of proverbs.”
  14. “The bigger the head, the bigger the headache.”
  15. “Bereft of proverbs, speech flounders and falls short of its mark, whereas aided by them, communication is fleet and unerring.”
  16. “An elephant which kills a rat is not a hero.”
  17. “Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands.”
  18. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is himself a prisoner of hatred.”
  19.  “Anger and madness are brothers. “
  20. “Do not follow a person who is running away.”
  21. “We desire to bequeath two things to our children; the first one is roots, the other one is wings.”
  22. “A single tree cannot make a forest.”
  23. “There are no shortcuts to the top of a palm tree.”
  24.  “An elder can be advised but never insulted.”
  25. “The grass does not grow where elephants fight.”
  26. “An army of sheep, led by a lion, can defeat an army of lions, led by a sheep.”
  27. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
  28. “If there is a cause for hatred, there is a need for love.”
  29. “The moon obscures the light of a thousand stars”
  30. “If you lose your wife at a crowded party, just start talking to an attractive woman.”

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Meet Our Authors: The Wildmoz team, Cari and Moz, have a lifelong passion for the Bushveld and share adventures and stories about Africa's good things. Wildmoz is Africa - the cradle of life! Travel writing about wildlife, African folklore, wildlife art, Kruger Park and wildlife safari info! Taste life as it is in Africa.
 Posted by on October 23, 2016