Some African Proverbs and their meanings


African proverbs are rich in in-depth meaning, knowledge, and wisdom. They sound and seem simple but are pregnant with a lot of life’s lessons to teach, rebuke, advise, and correct. Others inspire you and push you out of your comfort zone.

These wise sayings until recently were handed down through oral tradition. Many new African proverbs are emerging daily and add up to the rich stock of proverbs.

African Proverbs and their meanings

Proverb 1: When your hand is in Somebody’s mouth you do not slap him/her

Meaning: When you need a favour or something from another, even if the-would be helper misbehaves towards you, you need not react negatively. Exercise patience when in need of smoothening from someone.

Proverb 2: Two kings cannot sit on one stool.


Meaning: When two people are strong, arrogant, and cannot live peacefully, they need to hear this proverb.

Proverb 3:Parents of a stubborn child are better off than those without a child.

Meaning: Your bad condition is better than someone.

Proverb 4: The beard cannot tell history to the eyelid.

Meaning: The eyelid existed before the beard grew, children cannot tell their father’s history of the past, it is the other way round. This proverb is for children who think they are wiser than their parents.


Proverb 5: The person who goes to the riverside to fetch water does not drink muddy water.

Meaning: An industrious person would always get what he/she wants. This proverb is to encourage people who are hard-working.

Read: Broken Heart Moments That Shake The Roots of Love (POEM)

African proverbs are used daily during official and unofficial gatherings and events such as marriage ceremonies, funerals, alternative dispute resolution among others.

Making good use of them in private and public conversations is a sign of maturity in many cultures. It is also a sign of being a man of letters in traditional certain.


Read: Be a Critical Thinker in Four (4) Steps

Chiefs and Kings, Queens and Queen mothers, elders and the aged, and many more people use African Proverbs that match the message they are communicating to drive home their message without using long winding sentences.

Do you agree with the African Proverbs and their meanings shared?



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