How are you on this lazy Sunday afternoon. I feel like a yawning cheetah hanging off a branch of some tree with the African heat. What have you been up to?
If you’re in much more cooler conditions, then that should keep you awake. The scorching African heat can be tiring that cheetahs and other animals look for refuge and take a siesta. That’s my dog’s daily routine on really hot days. So, to keep me awake I have decided to write an article about my favourite African Proverbs and give you the meanings of a few that you might find difficult to figure out. (Okay going for a one-hour nap. It’s too hot)
Right, back again…
- If there is no demon within, the demon outside can do us no harm.
- A king’s child is a slave elsewhere.
- What is bad luck for one man is good luck for another.
- Fear no forest because it is dense.
- The chameleon changes colours to match the earth, the earth does not change colours
to match the chameleon.
- He who tells the truth is never wrong.
- We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children.
- All monkeys cannot hang on the same branch.
- The rain does not recognize anyone as a friend it drenches all equally.
- Those who are born on top of the anthill take a short time to grow tall.
- Little by little the bird builds its nest.
- Numbers can achieve anything.
- If you damage the character of another, you damage your own.
- Teeth do not see poverty.
This means that even there’s always something to laugh about in the worst circumstances.
- Those who are absent are always wrong.
- He who refuses to obey cannot command.
- One head alone does not go into council.
- A brave man dies once, a coward dies a thousand times.
- The betrothed of good is evil the betrothed of life is death the betrothed of love is divorce.
- He who does not clean his mouth before breakfast always complains that the food is sour.
- The best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut him up into little pieces.
This means to tackle a problem bit by bit or one step at a time.
- God has created lands with lakes and rivers for man to live
and the desert so that he can find his soul.
- Rain beats the leopard’s skin, but it does not wash out the spots.
This means that the person’s character won’t ever change. Also, the person’s bad behaviour and poor reputation
that others have of you can’t be washed away even by doing good deeds.
- Little by little grow the bananas.
- An intelligent enemy is better than a stupid friend.
- The cow that bellows does so for all cows.
- If a leader loves you, he makes sure you build your house on rock.
- Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author.
- No matter how beautiful and well-crafted a coffin might look,
it will not make anyone wish for death.
- A slave has no choice.
- A flea can trouble a lion more than a lion can trouble a flea.
- The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water.
- Hope does not disappoint.
- We are what our thinking makes us.
- Rich people eat sometimes bad food.
- Old and new millet seeds end up in the same mill.
- Even an ant can hurt an elephant.
- To love someone who does not love you is like shaking a tree
to make the dew drops fall.
- It is difficult for two long-nosed lovers to kiss.
- Those who accomplish great things pay attention to little ones.
- The eye cannot penetrate darkness.
- He who learns, teaches.
- He is like a drum that makes a lot of noise but is hollow inside.
- No masika (rain season) without mosquitoes.
- Examine what is said, not him who speaks.
- So many little things, makes a man love a woman in a BIG way.
- When I think of the others’ misfortunes, I forget mine.
- Every fame has a foundation.
- The vultures would not land in the village where there is a wise old man.
- No matter how hot your anger is you can’t cook yams.
This means no matter how angry you are anger solves nothing.
- The big game often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day.
- A roaring lion kills no game.
This means work quietly towards your goals rather than bragging or bragging prematurely.
- The clever king is the brother of peace.
- Coffee and love taste best when hot.
- The blame of the antelope is on the hunter.
- Good music goes with good food.
- The chameleon looks in all different directions before moving.
- One camel does not make fun of another camel’s hump.
- Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.
This means that you shouldn’t disrespect someone who shares your burdens, responsibilities
or someone who takes care of you.
- Haste and hurry can only bear children with many regrets along the way.
- Rising early makes the road short.
- If the elders leave you a legacy of dignified language, you do not abandon it
and speak childish language.
- If you educate a man you educate one individual,
but if you educate a woman you educate a family.
- The elephant does not limp when walking on thorns.
- He is a fool whose sheep runs away twice.
- A person with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace.
- Around a flowering tree, there are many insects.
- A canoe does not know who the leader is when it turns over, everyone gets wet.
- The friends of our friends are our friends.
- A good mother knows what her children will eat.
- If you do not have patience you cannot make beer.
- Ears that do not heed advice accompanies the head when it is chopped off.
This means if you don’t take the advice then you’ll suffer the consequences.
- A fully grown up tree cannot be bend into a walking stick.
- Not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it chased it.
- No matter how full the river is it still wants to grow.
- You cannot climb to the mountain top without crushing some weeds with your feet.
- Birds of all kinds will end up landing.
- No person is born great. Great people become great when others are sleeping.
- He who dictates separates himself from others.
- Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.
- The laughter of a child lights up the house.
- A tree cannot stand without roots.
- Even the best dancer on the stage must retire sometime.
- Leadership comes from God.
- When a king reigns, it is thanks to the people when a river sings,
it is thanks to the stones.
- Glory doesn’t come by calling.
- The one nearest to the enemy is the real leader.
- When the moon is not full the stars shine more brightly.
- The elders of the village are the boundaries.
- When a fish rots, the head stinks first.
- Copying everyone else all the time, the monkey one day cut his throat.
- An empty pot makes the loudest noise.
- Family names are like flowers, they blossom in clusters.
- When a lion cannot find meat, it eats grass.
- The bridge is repaired only when someone falls into the water.
- A snake that you can see does not bite.
- The Rhinoceros never dances with the monkey
- Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain in a bag with a hole.
- A bird that allows itself to be caught will find a way of escaping.
- Better little than too little.
- No tattoo is made without blood.
- Live patiently in the world; know that those who hate you
are more numerous than those who love you.
- If you think you have someone eating out of your hands,
it is a good idea to count your fingers.
- A child does not instruct on return, one instructs him when going.
- The jungle is stronger than the elephant.
- If your mouth turns into a knife it will cut off your lips.
- Women have no chief.
- Pretend you are dead, and you will see who really loves you.
- If while climbing a tree you insist on going beyond the top,
the earth will be waiting for you.
- One arrow can knock down an elephant.
- Too much discussion leads to a quarrel.
- If two wise men always agree, then there is no need for one of them.
- All errors are amendable.
- No water without waves.
- If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom.
- Even if you bewitch in the night, you will be known.
- Where there is no shame there is no honour.
- A child’s lie is like a dead fish in a pond that in the end, always comes to the surface,
explains his mother.
- If we put a hammer in every person’s hand, could they all become blacksmiths?
- You cannot force water up a hill.
- A big fish is caught with big bait.
I am sure there are a lot more African Proverbs out there, I would have loved to spend my time on them,
and if I did, you won’t find any blog posts from me in months 😊.
T. Dench Patel