African Proverbs and wise sayings played an important and significant role in ancient African culture and traditional history. Their hidden meanings’ main function was to warn, teach, entertain, and prevent a tragedy by using wise examples through oral literature, stories, and wise sayings. This article presents 145+ Funny African Proverbs and hidden, deeper Meanings You Didn’t Know in relation to the present. They are sub-divided into themed sections for easy access through the table of contents below.
Generally, ancient African proverbs talk about life, love, death, cheating, friendship, marriage, commitment, and other important social issues. They express intellectual and emotional attitudes: disappointment, sympathy, intention, acceptance as well as moral attitudes: approval, disapproval, appreciation, apology, or regret.This article presents 145+ African Proverbs and hidden, deeper Meanings You Didn’t Know in relation to the present. Click To Tweet
6 Main Functions and Classifications of African Proverbs and Wise Sayings in Oral Literature:
Just before we dive in, here are the 6 main functions that African proverbs and wise sayings to their respective cultures through significantly hidden or deeper meanings passed down using oral tradition and narratives as outlined in the examples below:
- Socialization by ethically teaching, educating, and warning people of foreseen anger.
- Endorsing a value system by presenting approval, disapproval, appreciation.
- Expressing painful and controversial truths.
- Using Humour to add a light touch to life.
- Miscellaneous proverbs tailored for specific situations.
- Expressing intellectual and emotional attitudes disappointment, sympathy, and morality.
24 Funny African Proverbs with Hidden Meaning:
Most of the best funny African proverbs were short, funny and humorous. Because of their deep euphemism, they had an ability to wisely pass inspiring and important lessons or life teachings in serious situations.The man who marries a beautiful woman and the farmer who grows corn by the road side have the same problem. – Ghanaian Proverb ?? Click To Tweet
Here is a list of 24 Funny Ancient African Proverbs with a hidden deeper Meaning:
- The only woman who knows where her man is every night is a widow. – Togolese Proverb??
- Before you go out with a widow, you must first ask her what killed the husband. – Traditional African Proverb
- A child can play with its mother’s breasts but not with the father’s testicles. – Ghanaian Proverb ??
- Without fools, there would be no wisdom. – Traditional African Proverb
- When a fly perches on a man’s scrotum, he immediately learns humility. – Ghanaian Proverb.
- The anger of a penis will never destroy the vagina. – Zimbabwean Proverb ?? (Here is a related backstory about Zimbabwe banning the word Vagina)
- A person who sells eggs should not start a fight in the market. – Traditional African Proverb
- A widow is the only woman who knows where her man is every night. – Togolese Proverb
- If u go to sleep with an itching anus, u are sure to wake up with smelly fingers. – Kenyan Proverb ??
- The man who marries a beautiful woman and the farmer who grows corn by the roadside have the same problem. – Ghanaian Proverb ??
- However much the buttocks are in a hurry, they will always remain behind. – Traditional African Proverb
- Swallowing a knife may be hard but once you do, the anus always finds a way to expel it. – Seychelles Proverb
- The major reason why a tortoise will carry the weight of its house forever is fear. – Nigerian Proverb
- An erected penis has no conscience. – Ugandan Proverb ??
- No matter how far a man can urinate, the last drop will always land between his feet. – Kenyan Proverb
- There’s no virgin in a maternity ward. – Cameroonian Proverb ??
- When you see a woman sitting with her legs open, never tell her to close them, because you do not know her source of fresh air. – Ethiopian Proverb ??
- It requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum. – Traditional African Proverb
- Hot temper will never cook yams. – Nigerian Proverb
- The frowning face of a goat cannot stop its owner to take it to the market. – Traditional African Proverb
- A truthful man will soon find himself expelled from 9 villages. – Kenyan Proverb
- A man with diarrhea will not require anyone to give them the direction to the door. Ugandan Proverb ??
- The day a mosquito lands on your testicles is the day you will know there is a better way of resolving issues without using violence. – Senegalese Proverb ??
- Human feces will always smell, no matter how small – Gambian Proverb
There’s still more, but as you ponder on this, watch George Ayittey below to understand the mind of some African leaders and why they act the way they do with regards to corruption, accountability, and democracy:
George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa’s future:
To see what pisses off people like the Ghanaian economist George Ayittey, who just unleashed a torrent of controlled anger toward corrupt leaders in Africa — and calls on the Cheetah generation to take back the continent, see this post.
30 African Proverbs about Love, Marriage, and Commitment:The buttocks are like a married couple, though there is constant friction between them, they will still love and live together. – Traditional African Proverb Click To Tweet
Love is an international language understood by all. Admirably, the beauty of proverbs is embedded with an internationally relatable meaning.
In spite of some meaning getting lost in translation, these uniquely African proverbs can still convey wisdom, truth, discovery of ideas to a diverse range of people from other cultures across the world.
Here is a list of 30 Ancient African Proverbs about Love, Marriage, and Commitment:
- If you do not travel, you will marry your own sister. – Mozambican Proverb
- The house of a person we love is never far. – Kikuyu, Kenyan Proverb
- If there is cause to hate someone, the cause to love has just begun. – Wolof, Gambian/ Senegalese Proverb
- A good wife is easy to find, but suitable in-laws are rare. – Madagascan Proverb
- The buttocks are like a married couple, though there is constant friction between them, they will still love and live together. – Traditional African Proverb
- It’s better to fall from a tree and a break your back than to fall in love and break your heart. – Traditional African Proverb
- When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow. Ethiopian Proverb
- You do not beat a drum with one finger. – Traditional African Proverb
- You know who you love but you can’t know who loves you. Nigerian Proverb
- If anyone makes you laugh, it is not always because they love you. Kenyan Proverb
- If you marry a monkey for its wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains. Egyptian Proverb
- He who loves, love you with your dirt. Ugandan Proverb
- No Matter How Hot Your Anger May Be, It Cannot Cook. – Traditional African Proverb
- Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle. – Ashanti Ghanaian Proverb
- Don’t try to make someone hate the person he loves. For he will go on loving but he will hate you. Senegalese Proverb
- The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love. Moroccan Proverb
- Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly but flooding the river. Liberian Proverb
- If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars? Tunisian Proverb
- One who marries for love alone will have bad days but good nights. Egyptian Proverb
- One who loves the vase, loves also what is inside. Tanzanian Proverb
- Love doesn’t listen to rumors. Ghanaian Proverbs
- Love, like rain, does not choose the grass on which it falls. South African Proverb
- The archer loves the arrow that flies, as much as he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands. Nigerian Proverb
- Don’t be so in love that you can’t tell when it’s raining. Madagascan Proverb
- Love is a painkiller. African Traditional Proverb
- Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle. – Ashanti Ghanaian Proverb
- One who loves you, warns you. – Ugandan Proverb
- Bread without sauce and a home without a wife are meaningless. – Ethiopian Proverb
- It is better to be loved than feared. – Sierra Leonean Proverb
- A married couple is neither enemies nor friends. – Somali Proverb
20 Ancient Proverbs about Sex and Cheating:
Here is a list of 20 African Proverbs and Wise Sayings about Sex and Cheating:Some girls are like mangoes, while you are waiting for them to be ripe, others are chewing them raw with salt. – #TeamMafisi, Kenyan Proverb Click To Tweet
- When a girl has beauty without brains, it’s her private parts that suffer the most – Traditional African Proverb
- A man that does not lie shall never marry. – Zimbabwean Proverb
- You cannot convince a monkey that honey is sweeter than a banana. – Traditional African Proverb
- If you lose your girlfriend in a crowded bar, just start talking to a beautiful girl and she will reappear. Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- Men would not tell lies if women asked fewer questions. African Traditional Proverb
- He who swallows a complete coconut has absolute trust in his anus. Traditional African Proverb
- Some girls are like mangoes, while you are waiting for them to be ripe, others are chewing them raw with salt. – Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- He who is bitten by a snake fears a lizard. Ugandan Proverb
- Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight. Ghanaian Proverb
- Even without drum beats, banana leaves dance. – Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- When three girls are walking together and you want to talk to the pretty one, please greet the ugly one first, she’s the commander in chief. Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- If your mother-in-law does not know how to sit properly, you are probably the one who knows how to watch properly – Uganda Proverb
- A hungry man should never be left alone in the granary. Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- No matter how tall/long the neck is, there’s no day it will surpass the head. – Traditional African Proverb
- It is useless to convince a Dog that Honey is Sweeter than a Bone. Team Mafisi, Kenyan Proverb
- If the sun claims superiority over the moon, let it shine at night. – Traditional African Proverb
- A monkey that eats grass instead of banana is a goat. – Traditional African Proverb
- The monkey who tries to see the hunter clearly collects bullets in its eyes. – Traditional African Proverb
- A hen does not expect a warning to hide its chicks from the kite.
- An agama lizard in the village will always remain an agama in town. – Traditional African Proverb
Just a short break…
But there’s still more below on Life, Death, and Politics… (and we’ve saved the best for last!)
Here’s another article we know you would love! It is a look into the Destructive Myths about Virginity that need to be Forgotten Now. More about How Society uses the Concept of Virginity to control Women.
Make sure you read the comments too. Just to see how different people think when it comes to sexuality. Click here to open the article in a new tab.
African Proverbs are my Lifehacks | Mulenga Kapwepwe | TEDxLusakaProverbs are pure poetry in a sentence. Like coal into a diamond, proverbs are decades, centuries and even millenniums of wisdom, condensed into a few words. Click To Tweet
All this knowledge, maintained and passed down through oral tradition, has surprised historians and given insight into the intellectual supremacy of African cultures. Click To Tweet
How can we use African proverbs as lifehacks? Using a number of African proverbs as examples, Mulenga Kapwepwe outlines and explores in this light-hearted but insightful talk, how the collective wisdom of African proverbs has helped her hack the complexities of life and living.
Mulenga Kapwepwe graduated from the University of Zambia with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. Mulenga has a rich background in local traditions and arts and has worked as a cultural consultant with government agencies, international and local organizations, and private sector firms.
Throughout the years in this capacity, Mulenga has participated in the review and development of national cultural policies and legal frameworks, thus improving the conditions under which artists do their work. She currently serves as Chairperson of the National Arts Council of Zambia.
Mulenga has written a number of award-winning plays, a book and has received numerous commendations for her contributions to the Art and Culture. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedxA man who drives his father's car is not entitled to speak in a council of men who own bicycles. – Traditional African Proverb Click To Tweet
30 Ancient African Proverbs about the Meaning of Life and Wisdom:
Proverbs are pure poetry in a sentence. Like coal into diamond, proverbs are decades, centuries and even millenniums of wisdom, condensed into a few words.
All this knowledge, maintained and passed down through oral tradition, has surprised historians and given insight into the intellectual supremacy of African cultures.
These wise sayings from across the continent show just how intelligent African people were, even before the missionaries and white colonialists invaded Africa and labeled them as being barbaric and uneducated.
Here is a list of 30 ancient African Proverbs about the meaning of Life Teachings and Wisdom:
- Without fools there would be no wisdom. – Traditional African Proverb
- A man who drives his father’s car is not entitled to speak in a council of men who own bicycles. – Traditional African Proverb
- You may well have two legs, but you can’t climb two trees at the same time. — Ethiopian proverb
- Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. – Hema DRC Proverb
- If A Man Wants To Grow A Long Tooth, He Should Have The Lip To Cover it. – Traditional African Proverb
- A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb
- If the rhythm of the drum beat changes, the dance step must adapt. – Traditional African Proverb
- If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African Proverb
- Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan, Ghanaian Proverb
- The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian Proverb
- A man who defecates forgets but the one who steps never forgets. – Teso, Ugandan Proverb
- Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean Proverb
- Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan, Ghanaian Proverb
- The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water. ~ Cameroonian Proverb
- In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian Proverb
- Nobody is born wise. ~ African Traditional Proverb
- Without fools there would be no wisdom. – African Traditional Proverb
- He who fears fire cannot be a leader. African Traditional Proverb
- No one fights the lion without the lion’s claws getting to his body. – Kenyan Proverb
- The prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns. African Traditional Proverb
- He who solves a problem with a problem will always have another problem in waiting. African Traditional Proverb
- Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers – Ugandan Proverb
- It’s the fear of what tomorrow may bring that makes the tortoise carry its house along wherever it goes – Nigerian Proverb
- The okro plant never grows taller than the owner. African Traditional Proverb
- You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. Democratic Republic of the Congo
- It takes a village to raise a child. Nigerian Proverb
- No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yams. Nigerian Proverb
- When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby. – Traditional African Proverb
- The sparrow said that since the hunter has learnt how to shoot without missing, it has equally learnt to fly without perching. – Traditional African Proverb
- Snails don’t venture where horned animals gather. – Traditional African Proverb
Before you proceed with this detailed curation, here’s an article about African Presidents and how they use backward cultural beliefs to maintain power. We highly recommend you to read it too.
The bursts of controlled Anger in the post will definitely remind you of the greatness that is Africa! Click here to open it in a new tab.It's the fear of what tomorrow may bring that makes the tortoise carry its house along wherever it goes – Nigerian Proverb Click To Tweet
28 Ancient African Proverbs about the Meaning of Death:
God, morality and the possibility of life after death are very controversial topics. Just talking about death is considered taboo in many africans cultures:God, morality and the possibility of life after death are very controversial topics. Just talking about death is considered taboo in many africans cultures. Click To Tweet
Firstly, because it brings sorrow and steals the present joy of life.
Secondly, because most traditional African religious systems believed in the concept of Ancestors watching over them. If you speak ill of them, they can punish you and bring bad luck, which is not a good thing so it is better not to speak at all… Or you will die!!! (The Croods 🙂
This is the reason why Africans used sayings about dying to describe and define death as a normal part of life and help people mourning the dead. They used humour, jokes and funny phrases in a wise way to make the meaning of death more bearable.This is the reason why Africans used sayings about dying to describe and define death as a normal part of life and help people mourning the dead. Click To Tweet
Death is like a piece of clothing that we all have to wear. It is a thief. A ruined society is as depressed as a dog in the house of death. No matter how beautiful and perfectly crafted a coffin looks, it will not make anyone look forward to death.
Here is a list of 28 ancient African Proverbs about the meaning of Death & Dying:Death is the poor man’s best physician. – Traditional African Proverb Click To Tweet
- Death defies the doctor. – Traditional African Proverb
- Fear of death is worse than death itself. – Traditional African Proverb
- The first breath is the beginning of death. – Traditional African Proverb
- Nothing is certain but death and taxes. – Traditional African Proverb
- Death is the great leveler. – Traditional African Proverb
- The one who pleased everybody died before they were born. – Traditional African Proverb
- Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names. – Traditional African Proverb
- Death is blind. ~ Tanzanian Swahili Proverb
- The death that will kill a man begins as an appetite – Nigerian Proverb
- Fear is no obstacle to death. ~ West African Proverb
- The best way to eat the elephant standing in your path is to cut it up into little pieces. – Traditional African Proverb
- Death has the key to open the miser’s chest. – Ghanaian Proverb
- When a man is stung by a bee, he does not destroy all beehives – Kenya Proverb
- Exile is the brother of death. ~ Berber Proverb
- Even if Christ’s death could have been prevented, Judas would still be a traitor. – Ethiopian Proverb
- Death is the poor man’s best physician. – Traditional African Proverb
- Birth is the only remedy against death. ~ Nigerian Proverb
- As a child, is a man wrapped in his mother’s womb; as an adult, in tradition; comes death, and he is wrapped in earth. – Malawian Proverb
- After death the doctor. – Traditional African Proverb
- There are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree. ~ Cameroonian Proverb
- All monkeys cannot hang on the same branch. ~ Kenyan Proverb
- Death has no modesty. – South African Zulu Proverbs
- Those who are absent are always wrong. ~ Congolese Proverb
- God has created lands with lakes and rivers for man to live. And the desert so that he can find his soul. ~ Tuareg Proverb
- The big game often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day. ~ Igbo Proverb
- A clever king is the brother of peace. ~ South African Proverb
- Do not call a dog with a whip in your hand. ~ Sudanese Proverb
- Death is always news. – Traditional African Proverb
13 Ancient Proverbs about Politics and Leadership:
Here is a list of 13 Ancient African Proverbs about Politics and Leadership:If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a bodyguard. – Traditional African Proverb Click To Tweet
- If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a bodyguard. – Traditional African Proverb
- When the village chief himself goes around inviting people to a meeting, the system is broken. – Gambian Proverb
- No matter how far an eagle flies up the sky, it will definitely come down to look for food. – Traditional African Proverb
- The best way to eat the elephant standing in your path is to cut it up into little pieces. South African Proverb
- A wise person will always find away. ~ Tanzanian proverb
- Respect the fools to avoid noise. – Traditional African Proverb
- Rain beats the leopard’s skin but it does not wash out the spots. Ghanaian Proverb
- Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. Akan and Ewe tribes of West Africa
- A roaring lion kills no game. Ugandan Proverb
- The little opportunity given to a monkey to wear clothes does not guarantee it to join the dining table. – Traditional African Proverb
- Not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it, chased it. – South African Proverb
- When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled. East African Swahili Proverb
- Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. – Traditional African Proverb
Have you ever wondered about the genuine reason why Kenyatta Day was changed to Mashujaa Day? We dug out the real meaning, history, and reasons why Mashujaa day celebrations happen in Kenya, and what that means for the common Mwananchi.
This quest begun with questions: What is the significance of other holidays like Moi Day, Madaraka Day and Jamuhuri Day to the common mwananchi? Are some holidays in Kenya irrelevant? Click here to open this article in a new tab and understand the deeper, almost uncovered history of Mashujaa Day and a Look Into the Future: What Mashujaa Day will Look Like in 10 Years…
Akan Proverbs And Their Meaning
Chief Linguist Kwame Frimpong Manso Adakabre shares the wisdom and knowledge of the Akan Proverbs. Also, he explains the meanings, origins, and uses of proverbs.Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. – Traditional African Proverb Click To Tweet
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