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African Proverbs

My Top 10 African Proverbs


African Proverbs offer wisdom and poetry in just one sentence. Proverbs play an important part in African cultures all across the continent. The beauty of proverbs is the universality of their meaning, everyone can relate to them in some way, on some level. Yet they are also uniquely African and help us gain an insight into African culture. African proverbs can convey wisdom, truth, a discovery of ideas, as well as life lessons.


"When the fool is told a proverb, its meaning has to be explained to him" (Ashanti)

1. A man who has one finger pointing at another has three pointing towards himself

Ethiopia, Tigray, Monastery of Debre Damo, Monks chatting
BOISVIEUX Christophe / hemis.fr/hemis.fr/Getty Images

2. Rain beats a leopard's skin, but it does not wash out the spots (Ashanti)

3. Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight (Ashanti)

4. You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla (Congo)

5. He who is bitten by a snake fears a lizard (Uganda)

6. Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it (Akan and Ewe)

7. He who asks questions, cannot avoid the answers (Cameroon)

8. Because a man has injured your goat, do not go out and kill his bull (Kenya)

9. The dog's bark is not might, but fright (Liberia)

10. A tree is known by its fruit (Zulu)

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