African Proverbs

Follow Nature's Advice Through African Proverbs

When you think of Africa, you think of dense forests and colorful costumes. A continent as culturally vibrant as Africa would also abound in age-old wisdom, don't you think? Many African countries rely on nature for livelihood; they have developed a unique insight into nature's laws. Read African proverbs to understand the profundities of nature. These African proverbs have been translated from various African languages: Swahili, Zulu, and Yoruba.

African Proverbs Translated From Swahili to English:

  • A chicken's prayer doesn't affect a hawk.

  • The way a donkey expresses gratitude is by giving someone a bunch of kicks.

  • An envious person requires no reason to practice envy.

  • It's always good to save or invest for the future.

  • Hurry; haste has no blessing.

  • The water pot presses upon the small circular pad.

  • Effort will not counter faith.

  • The hen with baby chicks doesn't swallow the worm.

  • When elephants fight the grass gets hurt.

  • I pointed out to you the stars and all you saw was the tip of my finger.

  • It is only a male elephant that can save another one from a pit.

  • A deaf ear is followed by death and an ear that listens is followed by blessings.
African Proverbs Translated From Yoruba to English:
  • He who throws a stone in the market will hit his relative.

  • A person who stammers would eventually say "father".

  • One takes care of one's own: when a bachelor roasts yam, he shares it with his sheep.

  • When a king's palace burns down, the re-built palace is more beautiful.

  • A child lacks wisdom, and some say that what is important is that the child does not die; what kills more surely than lack of wisdom?

  • You are given some stew and you add water; you must be wiser than the cook.

  • One does not enter into the water and then run from the cold.

  • One does not fight to save another person's head only to have a kite carry one's own away.

  • One does not use a sword to kill a snail.

  • One gets bitten by a snake only once.

  • Whoever sees mucus in the nose of the king is the one who cleans it.
African Proverbs Translated From Zulu to English:
  • No sun sets without its histories.

  • A tree is known by its fruit.

  • The groin pains in sympathy with the sore.

  • You are sharp on one side like a knife.

  • The wrong-headed fool, who refuses counsel, will come to grief.

  • The lead cow (the one in front) gets whipped the most.

  • Go you will find a stone in the road that you can't get over or pass.

  • Hope does not kill; I shall live and get what I want one day.