African Proverbs

Enjoy dozens of witty and insightful African proverbs and idioms that have been passed down from one generation to the next for hundreds of years!

  • Money is sharper than the sword.
  • A donkey knows no gratitude.
  • A man’s wealth may be superior to him.
  • Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up.
  • With wealth one wins a woman.
  • One does not love if one does not accept from others.
  • The eye is a coward.
  • A dog that steals, sells its body.
  • Dogs do not prefer bones to meat; it is just that no one ever gives them meat.
  • There is no one who became rich because he broke a holiday, no one who became fat because he broke a fast.
  • The one chased away with a club comes back, but the one chased away with kihooto [reason] does not.
  • One cannot both feast and become rich.
  • The chicken is never declared innocent in the court of hawks.
  • The rich are always complaining.
  • The young can’t teach traditions to the old.
  • The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long.
  • There is no medicine against old age.
  • He who loves money must labor.
  • If one is roasting two potatoes, one of them is bound to get charred.
  • One person is thin porridge or gruel; two or three people are a handful of stiff cooked cornmeal.
  • Instruction in youth is like engraving in stones.
  • God is our neighbor when our brother is absent.
  • Do they prepare leather [for a battle shield] the day they fight?
  • One who sees something good must narrate it.
  • If there is cause to hate someone, the cause to love has just begun.
  • Do not follow a person who is running away.
  • The pillar of the world is hope.
  • A stranger does not skin a sheep that is paid as a fine at a chief’s court.
  • That which is good is never finished.
  • By coming and going, a bird weaves its nest.
  • Poverty is slavery.
  • Bad dancing does not break an engagement.
  • Blind belief is dangerous.
  • Goodness gets a seat.
  • When cutting, look at the age of the machete.
  • A sorcerer has no distinctive color.
  • A champion bull starts from birth.
  • You cannot take away someone’s luck.
  • Even a friend cannot rescue one from old age.
  • One who is crazy for meat hunts buffalo.
  • People know each other better on a journey.
  • He has not married a woman, because she is [equal to] a man.
  • He who refuses to obey cannot command.
  • A man who dictates separates himself from others.
  • Whatever accomplishment you boast of in the world, there is someone better than you.
  • The poor man and the rich man do not play together.
  • It is foolhardy to climb two trees at once just because one has two feet.
  • Let rats shoot arrows at each other.
  • Do not vacillate or you will be left in-between doing something, having something, and being nothing.
  • A real family eats the same cornmeal.

For thousands more proverbs and words of wisdom, collected from over 40 countries, check out Proverbs from Around the World!

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