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Proverbs are an integral part of African culture. Passed on from generation to generation for centuries, they are still in wide use today and are very much part of everyday speech.

Proverbs are used to illustrate ideas, reinforce arguments and deliver messages of inspiration, consolation, celebration and advice.

The great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe once wrote:

“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.”

Quotes on Family and Relationship


A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place. ~ African Proverb

A united family eats from the same plate. ~ Baganda proverb

A family tie is like a tree, it can bend but it cannot break. ~ African proverb

If I am in harmony with my family, that’s success. ~ Ute proverb

Brothers love each other when they are equally rich. ~ African proverb

Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. ~ Ethiopian proverb

There is no fool who is disowned by his family. ~ African proverb

Home affairs are not talked about on the public square. ~ African proverb

If relatives help each other, what evil can hurt them? ~ African proverb

He who earns calamity, eats it with his family. ~ African proverb

Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. ~ Ethiopian 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) proverb

When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate. ~ Ibo proverb

Children are the reward of life. ~ African proverb

Quotes On Unity and Community


Unity is strength, division is weakness. ~ Swahili proverb

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~ Bondei proverb

It takes a village to raise a child. ~ African proverb

Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African proverb

Many hands make light work. ~ Haya (Tanzania) proverb

Where there are many, nothing goes wrong. ~ Swahili proverb

Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper. ~ Tanzanian proverb

A single bracelet does not jingle. ~ Congolese proverb

A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn. ~ African proverb


Quotes on Wisdom
If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb

Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb

Wisdom does not come overnight. ~ Somali proverb

Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ~ Hema (DRC) proverb

Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb

Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb

If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

A wise person will always find a way. ~ Tanzanian proverb

Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb

A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb

Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb


Submitted African Proverbs

Be careful,while one finger points are the object of your scorn, three point at you and your thumb testifies against you


 (A Special thanks to those who have anonymously submitted Proverbs)

Use this form to send in your wise words, which will be published on our website for the benefit of the general public. There is no limit to the number of times you can submit proverbs.


African Proverbs Submission Form


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