21 African Proverbs To Enlighten Your Thinking

Words of wisdom are timeless, coupled with humour makes African proverbs hard to ignore and are one of our personal favourites. We all grew up with these sayings because of its practicality to instil wisdom and equip us for life. Overflowing with inspiration, creativity and advice the messages they convey are universal.


Discover the pearls in these sayings and if they resonate with you, then feel free to share, like or comment. Let us also know your favourite African proverb.


Patience can cook a stone.

There is no problem that is impossible with patience.


The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.

The heart has eyes and never forgets how it feels, which is why we must guard our heart.


Only a fool tests the water with both feet.

If you want to test the water with both feet then you have to be ready to swim. You have to assess your situation first or else suffer the consequences. Like the saying goes; don't put all your eggs in one basket.


Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every drop.

Sacrifice and hard work will help you value what you have - it teaches you to be mindful of utilising what you have.


Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.

Rather than dwelling on your mistakes look at the cause. Falling is the reaction to what's overlooked, so if you turn a blind eye you set yourself up to repeat the same mistakes.


You do not tell a child not to touch a hot lamp, the lamp will tell the child.

As the proverbial goes, those that don't listen must feel, this applies to all ages. If you are going to ignore the warnings, the advice, then you're going to feel the consequences. Curiosity must follow common sense.


When the monkey cannot reach the ripe banana with his hand, he says it is not sweet.

Excuses, excuses, excuses it never gets the job done. Not taking accountability and initiative to reach your goals exposes your shortcomings.


A slip of tongue is worse than a slip of the feet.

Words can never be taken back and hurt a lot more than a slip by the feet. When one loses their footing, their immediate reaction is to regain their posture and oftentimes the incident is forgotten about, but a slip of the tongue can kill one's spirit and soul.


An empty sack will not stand upright.

You need to be filled in order to fulfil your purpose, likewise, a sack cannot stand upright unless supported or filled with substance is the same way we as vessels are designed for a purpose.


Marriage is like groundnut, you have to crack it to see what’s inside.

Relationships like marriage take work. Don't think because you hold it in possession that you're excused from building and maintaining. If you don't crack to see what's inside, how can you enjoy its benefits? The surface does not determine the value likewise it's not the wedding but the marriage that you will experience the greatest reward.


Never use what you got by grace to disgrace others, the dice is still rolling.

Do not flaunt or take advantage of others because of the power/wealth you have. No one knows how things will end, and it can all be snatched or disappear from you.


Examine what is said, not him who speaks.

Appearance, titles, accolades and wealth can all be deceptive. Favouritising people based solely on these characteristics is not ethical neither is it wise. Instead, weigh the content based on its authenticity and don't be fooled.


Around a flowering tree, there are many insects.

Flowering plants and insects exist in a mutually beneficial relationship, but not all insects are beneficial. Your blessings attract insects, some are pollinators and some are parasites, destroying you from the inside.


However long the night is, the dawn will break.

Time allows all things to be made new. As seasons come and go, so does our emotions. No matter how bad the situation might be, remember it is only temporary, the sun will shine again.


Don't burn opportunities for temporary comfort.

In the grand scheme of things, temporary comfort can be your biggest regret. The way you live today will shape your future so handle every opportunity wisely.


A lie has many variations, the truth has one.

This truism can also be expressed as; to hide a lie, a thousand lies are needed. When you tell the truth, there is no need to recall its variations because it doesn't waver from itself. It stands as truth - it stands alone.


Your energy introduces you before you even speak.

As spiritual beings, our presence radiates; this can be positive, and uplifting or negative and depressing. What you emit stems from your beliefs.


You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.

People will ignore the warnings, the advice, the calling, and the alarm and act as if nothing is happening when they don’t want to face the reality of the situation. They resist the call to action only to be comfortable.


A flea can trouble a lion more than a lion can trouble a flea.

Don't underestimate your size. Being small could work in your favour and certain situations it can be desirable. Learn to be content with what you have but also learn to substitute what you don't have, so if you don't have strength, use strategy.


Character is like pregnancy, you can't hide it forever.

No matter how much you may try to conceal your baby bump, it will eventually show one way or another. That's the same with character, it cannot be hidden or ignored, it reveals itself under pressure, and when you're alone.


You do not respond to a mosquito bite with a hammer.

Don’t take extreme decisions over minor issues, you would end up hurting yourself.



#inspireme #transformyourmind #foodforthought

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