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African Proverbs and Old African Sayings

African Proverbs 1 2 3

A hyena cannot smell its own stench.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)

Do not follow a person who is running a way.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
We should put out fire while it is still small.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
Water can not be forced uphill.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
The eye is a coward.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
We should talk while we are still alive.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
Even a friend can not rescue one from old age.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
You can not take away someone's luck.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
There is no bad patience.  - (Knappert, p. 46, Swahili).
A low-class man will just talk; deeds are the hallmark of a gentleman.  - (Knappert, p. 84, Swahili)
God is our neighbour when our brother is absent.  - (Knappert, p. 33, Swahili)
A donkey knows no gratitude.  - (Knappert, p. 138, Swahili)
The climber of ladders will descend [the ambitious person will be brought back down].
The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long.   - Ethiopia (Ayele, p. 23, Amharic)
The haughty blind person picks a fight with his guide.   - Ethiopia
The best of mankind is a farmer; the best food is fruit.    - Ethiopia
Do not vacillate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing.  - Ethiopia
It is foolhardy to climb two trees at once just because one has two feet.  - Ethiopia
Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you.    - Cape Coast, Ghana
A stranger does not skin a sheep that is paid as a fine at a chief's court.   - Cape Coast, Ghana
The orphan does not rejoice after a heavy breakfast.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
The chicken is never declared          in the court of hawks.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
He flees from the roaring lion to the crouching lion.    Sechuana
A crime eats its own child.  Sechuana
A sorcerer has no distinctive colour.  Sechuana
He has not married a woman; for she is [the equal of] a man.    Sechuana
People know each other better on a journey.  Plaatje
Let rats shoot arrows at each other.  Sudan
Do not tell the man carrying you that he stinks.  Sierra Leone
You suffer from smoke produced by the firewood you fetched yourself.  Luhya, Kenya
A man who dictates separates himself from others.  Somalia
Be on the alert, like the red ant that moves with its claws wide open.  Uganda
Instruction in youth is like engraving in stones.  Berber, North Africa
To be happy in one's home is better than to be a chief.  Yoruba, Nigeria
The elephant never gets tired of carrying its tusks.  Vai, Liberia
By coming and going, a bird weaves its nest.  Ashanti, Ghana
You are sitting in peace (unharmed): as the nose of a cow that feeds among thorntrees and shows no scars.  Luganda, Uganda
The rainmaker who doesn't know what he's doing will be found out by the lack of clouds.  Luganda, Uganda
One who is crazy for meat hunts buffalo.  Luganda, Uganda
One person is thin porridge or gruel; two or three people are a handful of stiff cooked corn meal.  - Kuria, Kenya/Tanzania and Ngoreme, Tanzania
God's rain falls even on the      .  - Fipa, Tanzania
That which is good is never finished.  - Sukuma, Tanzania
One who sees something good must narrate it.  - Ganda, Uganda
To be praised is to be lost.  - Kikuyu, Kenya
The one chased away with a club comes back, but the one chased away with kihooto [reason] does not.  - Kikuyu, Kenya
He who refuses to obey cannot command.  - Kikuyu, Kenya
He who refuses to obey cannot command.  - Kikuyu, Kenya
If one is roasting two potatoes, one of them is bound to get charred.  - Kikuyu, Kenya.
Goodness gets a seat.   - Igala, Nigeria. (Pachocinski, p. 224; explanation: good people will be shown favors and will live longer).
The frog does not run in the daytime for nothing.  - Igbo, Nigeria
Do they prepare leather [for a battle shield] the day they fight?  - Zar, Nigeria
The      crows, the idle person grumbles.  - Yoruba, Nigeria
When cutting, look at the age of the machete.  - Fulfulde, Nigeria
He who loves money must labor.  (Mauritania)
Poverty is slavery  (Somalia)
One cannot both feast and become rich.  (Ashanti tribe)
There is no one who became rich because he broke a holiday, no one became fat because he broke a fast.  Ethiopia
Knowledge is  better than riches.    Cameroon
Money is sharper than the sword.  Ashanti tribe
One cannot count on riches.  Somalia
The poor man and the rich man do not play together.  Ashanti tribe
A man's wealth may be superior to him.  Cameroon
With wealth one wins a woman.  Uganda
The rich are always complaining.  Zululand
Where the rooster crows there is a village.  -Schambala proverb
Before         the chicken carefully observe the character of your guest.   Mandingo proverb
The     ivator is alone, but those who eat are many.    -Schambala proverb
Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat,it is just that no one ever gives them meat.  Akan proverb, West Africa
A real family eats the same cornmeal.  -Bayombe proverb
If your cornfield is far from your house, the birds will eat your corn.      Pigmy proverb
He who loves money must labor.  Mauritania
One cannot both feast and become rich.  Ashanti tribe
Knowledge is better than riches  Cameroon
Money is sharper than the sword.  Ashanti tribe
One cannot count on riches.  Somalia
The poor man and the rich man   do not play together.  Ashanti tribe
Add legs to the snake after you have finished drawing it.
Wherever man goes to dwell his character goes with him.
Whatever accomplishment you boast of in the world, there is someone better than you.
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.
Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.


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