A proverb is a brief, simple, traditional saying that gives advice based on practical experience. Proverbs and wise sayings played a significant role in ancient African traditional history.
In Africa, proverbs are seen as a treasure of wisdom from ancestors and are used to warn, teach, entertain and prevent tragedy by using wise examples through oral literature and wise sayings.
Below, we have compiled a list of 200 African proverbs with their meanings. Share with your loved ones and digest the deep meaning of the wisdom in the sayings of our ancestors.
You may also like to check out: 200 English Proverbs and Their Meanings
200 Best African Proverbs and Their Meanings
Meaning: If you don’t make an attempt to acquire knowledge, then you will not expect to have it and if you don’t put the knowledge you have to use, you cannot expect to benefit anything from it.
Meaning: You can only achieve your dream by taking action not talking about it.
Meaning: Always be watchful of an unfamiliar person that is too acquainted or be mindful when you are been made a jest of.
Meaning: This means that it is better to embrace peace because if two individuals wage war against each other, it is the innocent ones that will suffer the consequences.
Meaning: No matter what it may be, your real love will never kill you.
Meaning: You will always be tempted based on your good qualities
Meaning: Ignorance can lead to potential danger. It is important to be informed and alert.
Meaning: Don’t jump into a situation without first thinking about it.
Meaning: If you are humble, you will achieve great things in life.
Meaning: When you want someone to spend for you but you are stingy to spend.
Meaning: it will be foolish of you to insult the institution that you depend upon to survive. In another meaning; to disregard someone who is your helper in times of need.
Meaning: it is better that you should empower a man rather than help him with just stipends.
Meaning: It means, as the child grows, the bond between mother and child become stronger.
Meaning: Deal with your own real issues before you start poke-nosing into someone else’s.
Meaning: No matter how difficult things of this life may appear to get, in the end it is worth it.
Meaning: You can’t escape troubles in life because it is normal to everyone.
Meaning: If a great leader falls many will find their life difficult if there is no capable successor to replace the past leader.
Meaning: It means that you should not give up even when you failed to succeed in several times. You still need to be persistent.
Meaning: The Power of death is in one’s Chi. One who is at peace with his Chi is not afraid of death. He has conquered death.
Meaning: You will always be who you are no matter how hard you try to fake your personality.
Meaning: Mature behavior entitles even the young to sit beside kings.
Meaning: It is never enough to judge a situation or someone with just one man’s opinion.
Meaning: Avoid imitating someone else’s work; what works for someone else may not work for you.
Meaning: Be mindful of what makes you made a mistake not the mistake itself.
Meaning: Wicked people never relent on their evils so you have to be watchful.
Meaning: An unusual event will always be the reason for an unusual incidence.
Meaning: one should have started training his child from the early stage of his or her life.
Meaning: If you offend someone, apologize, and if someone else offends you forgive the person so that peace will rain.
Meaning: sometimes you have to deal with aggravating situations repeatedly to get to the prize at the end.
Meaning: The elders in a community and the society itself should support a good cause, not a bad one. Therefore, if you need their support, you should do good things that they will identify with and support.
Meaning: If you practice something frequently, you will master it gradually.
Meaning: If you don’t have experience on how to handle help rendered to you, it is as if it did not help.
Meaning: Don’t start your revenge until you are strong and sure enough that you will succeed, otherwise, you might pay with your life.
Meaning: If nobody cares about your achievement, never mind because you know your worth.
Meaning: The best method to give a solution to a problem is to handle it step by step; one after the other.
Meaning: If you destroy your own plan, expect others to do otherwise.
Meaning: When you are destined to die in a day, no matter how people advise you, you will face the fate as it is destined for you.
Meaning: In every situation that you find yourself, always remember that there is hope for prosperity.
Meaning: You can tell your real lovers by merely judging by the face alone.
Meaning: It is better for two or more people to deliberate on a subject matter rather than allowing only one person to decide on an issue.
Meaning: When in doubt always make sure.
Meaning: Children should do things that pertain to children and avoid those that concern the adults.
Meaning: To show that life is short and you will only live for once.
Meaning: Igbegulu is a palm stem in Nigeria or every other part it could be found; the adage means that some people abuse you even when they don’t know your real status.
Meaning: When you see a girl misbehaving, try and advise her because you don’t know if someone related to you will be the one to marry her.
Meaning: You should avoid interfering in other’s issues especially when you don’t know anything about them.
Meaning: it is easy for someone to get into trouble if does nothing or he or she is busy doing what does not concern them.
Meaning: Forget and forgive anything that your relative did to you.
Meaning: It is almost impossible to change a person’s character no matter how hard you try.
Meaning: Before you disregard other people’s difficulties, always remember the effect it has on them and the families.
Meaning: what you sow you shall reap. It can also mean what goes around comes around.
Meaning: it is good to do things in-group rather than trying to do it all alone.
Meaning: You cannot predict the beginning of greatness because they always look awkward and frustrating; therefore, it is not good to laugh at people or judge them based on their current status. Tomorrow, the great work they started may transform their life into greatness.
Meaning: The Universe is the best university. One should always learn from nature.
Meaning: the elderly ones are mostly more knowledgeable and experienced than the younger ones.
Meaning: The first step is always hard but as time goes, things become easier for you.
Meaning: You will find it difficult to get to the top without a good foundation.
Meaning: If you feel sorry always, it follows a foolish act.
Meaning: You must always think of all the possible consequences of your actions.
Meaning: we should respect our elders, obey them, and listen to their good advice because they have more experience with this life than we do.
Meaning: the day I needed something important, I didn’t get it.
Meaning: Nature abhors laziness. Killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which time kills us.
Meaning: In some societies, even in the absence of the biological parents of a child, the elders around will take care of him or her.
Meaning: If you don’t ask for assistance, you may never get one.
Meaning: A man cannot provide for you what he does not have.
Meaning: We attain heaven through the earth.
Meaning: a good person you helped do difficulties will never forget the help rendered to him or her.
Meaning: It means that no human has the knowledge of everything and that wisdom belongs to everyone.
Meaning: Experience is the best teacher.
Meaning: It is better to order a tiny wise person to communicate or deliver a message no matter how slow he is than to order a giant person who is faster and yet cannot deliver.
Meaning: There is strength in numbers.
Meaning: Don’t take extreme decisions over minor issues, it can turn around and hurt you.
Meaning: We learn and grow when times are tough.
Meaning: When people are in love, they don’t see things realistically.
Meaning: All fingers are not the same height; some are longer than the others. Same in the realm of humans; we are not all the same. Some are rich some are poor. Some are dark, some are light. Some are gentle and some are harsh.
Meaning: God is omnipotent. The nature of the world is His design.
Meaning: It is an action that drives our passion for something.
Meaning: To be fearful of experiencing a similar fate that has befallen you in the past. It can also be interpreted as being afraid of making an action that caused you pain in the past to repeat itself.
Meaning: You will destroy yourself if you don’t have someone that advises you or you refused to follow good advice.
Meaning: You can easily foretell the future of something based on the kind of character it possesses today.