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Modern Minds African Proverbs That Will Get You Thinking

Apr 28, 2024 10:00AM ● By Victoria Ezechukwu-Nwagwu


African proverbs have always stood out as timeless gems, and a repository of wisdom, offering invaluable insights that cut across borders and cultures, resonating with people of diverse backgrounds. These succinct expressions capture profound truths about life, relationships, and the human experience. Here are some of the best African proverbs that continue to inspire and enlighten people around the world.

1. "When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you." 

Self-awareness and inner peace are paramount; true strength comes from mastering our thoughts and emotions, making us resilient against external challenges.

2. “No one can pass twice between the thighs of an elephant.”

Certain opportunities or experiences are rare and cannot be repeated or recreated. 

3. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now” 

This proverb underscores the significance of taking action in the present moment. It encourages us to seize opportunities and start working towards our goals without delay.

4. “A bird will always use another bird's feathers to feather its own nest”

Here, we are reminded of the universal principle of resourcefulness. It suggests that individuals often rely on external resources and support to improve their circumstances. 

5. “The value of light is noticed when night falls”

We often take things for granted until we are deprived of them. This proverb serves as a reminder to appreciate what we have before it’s too late. 

Image: Legit.

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6. “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion”

The power of unity and solidarity cannot be underestimated, even the smallest and seemingly insignificant entities, when united, can overcome formidable obstacles.

7. “You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down”

True mastery is acquired through hands-on practice and perseverance, rather than theoretical knowledge alone.

8. “It is better to have a flat tyre on your Pajero than to have a troublesome friend”

This proverb emphasizes the importance of choosing one's companions wisely. It is better to face temporary setbacks or inconveniences in life than to endure the long-term difficulties and challenges posed by a problematic or unreliable friend.

9. “A family tie is like a tree it can bend but it cannot break”

Despite challenges and disagreements, family ties remain unbreakable.

10. “The axe forgets, but the tree remembers”

Reflecting on the consequences of past actions, this proverb suggests that while people may forgive and forget, the effects of one's actions can have lasting impacts.

11. “A Woman Holds the Knife at the Sharp End”

This proverb reminds us of the hardships that women and girls have to face in their lifetime, and the need to ensure their safety and dignity, around the world. 

12.  “No matter how tall your grandfather is, you have to do your own growing”

This conveys the idea of personal responsibility and self-reliance. Regardless of one's family background, heritage, or the achievements of previous generations, each individual is responsible for their growth, development, and success.

13. “A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest”

This proverb seeks to tell the listener that they should stop talking about what they want to do and do it.

14. “Good fortune doesn’t roar like a lion”

 Blessings or opportunities often come in subtle or unexpected ways, rather than through overt displays.

15. “A Person Is a Person Because of Other People” or “I am because you are”

This proverb reflects the African philosophy of ubuntu, which emphasizes the belief in a shared humanity and the interconnectedness of all individuals.

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 Victoria Ezechukwu-Nwagwu is the Executive Assistant to the Publisher of FunTimes Magazine. She is a communication enthusiast with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication. She is passionate about learning new things and influencing creative innovations.

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