35 African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

One way to acquire wisdom!!

Jayashree R

10 months ago|14 min read


African proverbs can express sagacity, reality, and life experiences. Proverbs are an essential component of African culture. They help in explaining concepts, strengthen arguments, and convey messages of inspiration, joy, and encouragement. 

They also educate and instruct the audience. They are associated with the immensely deep psychological roots of humankind.

Here are some African proverbs to cheer you up and enhance your thought optimistically. 

1. “All errors are amendable.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Any mistake can be corrected. First, try to acknowledge your mistakes. Do not worry or lose your hope whenever you make mistakes that lead to your drawback. Making mistakes is human nature because no one is perfect.

Everybody does make mistakes. All you want to do is to find out the reasons behind your mistakes and get on track to ensure not to repeat them. Learn from the mistakes because they are great tutors.

2. “If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.”

You will learn via mishaps if you are not ready to accept through realities. If you do not learn from facts, then it leads to misfortune.

For example, it is an actuality that if you learn and work for your goals you will get satisfied in the future, but if you are not ready to accept this fact, then you will end up in tragedy.

3. “Nobody is born wise.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Nobody comes into this world knowing everything. Also, there is no one born with all of their knowledge. Every day, they learn things little by little. You become wise by upgrading yourself day by day during your lifetime. The wise one educates themselves, is aware of situations, being patient, experienced, and hopeful.

4. “What you learn is what you die with.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

When you learn something during your lifetime, you will keep remembering them till the last breath. What you learn is what you'll take with you when you die. The things and the place you live with no longer will be there with you. The kinds of stuff you learn in your lifetime via anything such as from books, teachers, mistakes, or experience will stay with you forever.

5. “You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win.”

Every time losing teaches you a lot more than winning. When you face failures, you realize the faults made by you. You will try to upgrade yourself to meet success. When you fail repeatedly, try it over and over.

Never lose hope in yourself, seek a lot of attempts to defeat your failures. The foremost thing about defeating failure is, first, to try to understand it and plan accordingly.

6. “A tree cannot stand without roots.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Without foundations, one cannot persist. One must build a strong foundation to ensure the steadiness of the construction. The fundamental or primary stuff plays a significant role than the top ones. 

7. “If you pick up one end of the stick you also pick up the other.”

Picking up one end of the stick also means picking up the other. When you involve or take responsibility in something, you can choose, but keep in mind that you will be held accountable for "both ends of the stick," meaning that your decisions will have natural repercussions. These consequences can be good and useful, or they can be negative and detrimental.

While we cannot foretell the future, with the help of skilled personnel, you may obtain a good idea of what the future holds for you and your loved ones as a result of the decisions you make. In other words, you can fairly accurately determine the type of "stick" you've chosen.

8. “A tree cannot stand without roots.”

A tree cannot exist without its roots. The roots would be the helping hand and the biggest hope for the trees to withstand in every circumstance. Those roots help the trees to hold out against adverse weather, such as cloudbursts, whirlwinds, for many more years.

Similarly, you should have the strength and a positive attitude in any sort of problems that you face in your life. Be hopeful, and never try to run away from the problems, try to face and overcome them.

9. “The fool speaks, the wise man listens.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

A wise person is someone who uses sound judgment, is informed of current events, and is well-versed in the subject matter. All three of these characteristics are related to listening to the individual with whom you are communicating. A wise individual understands when to remain silent.

The less one says, the more he or she talks. An idiot, on the other hand, is someone who acts foolishly or irresponsibly. To be foolish, they must lack information, sound judgment, and self-awareness. As a result, they would constantly converse.

10. “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.”

Most people believe that knowledge is derived from studying and schooling, but wisdom is derived from day-to-day events and is a quality of being wise. Knowledge is just the ability to recognize facts and truths, but wisdom is the practical ability to make consistently wise moral judgments in life.

Wisdom is like a baobab tree, one cannot embrace wisdom completely. Wisdom is the practical ability to incessantly make a sensible moral judgment, which more people lack in their life. 

11. “He who cannot dance will say, ‘The drum is bad!'”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

He who is unable to do a task will complain about it. Someone who is unaware of the work in which he is involved may offer excuses and explanations by blaming the work or others. 

One may only be involved in work if he is well-versed in it; alternatively, one should be willing to accept and learn if he is unfamiliar with the role.

12. “A brave man dies once, a coward a thousand times.”

A courageous man dies once, a coward a thousand times. A coward is always self-conscious of his behavior, second-guessing everything he does. You are impeding your development. Fear of recognizing your real self and not growing.

Nobody on this planet was born to be brave. All bravery is acquired via the simple act of confronting your fears. We can all learn to be brave. We may all become bold individuals who do what we know is right and will offer us the delight of achievement. 

13. “A leader who does not take advice is not a leader.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

When individuals in positions of authority fail to listen, the consequences may be destructive. A leader who refuses to listen to counsel is not a leader. Leaders who do not listen are like de-motivating their followers.

They will then have no idea how to keep their employees engaged. It is a chance to discover something new and insights that might help us be more efficient, which assists in making sense of situations.

14. “Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem.”

A wise person will simply choose the peaks that are worth climbing. The person has forethought and understands how to avoid the problem from occurring in the first place, rather than waiting for the problem to arise and then resolving it. Even then, if the person faces a difficult obstacle then, he is capable of overcoming it with his wisdom. 

15. “Every door has its own key.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Each door has a unique key. Throughout your journey, you will knock on numerous doors, and not all of them will be opened. The proper key, at the right time, will open the door.

16. “He who refuses to obey cannot command.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

He who refuses to obey is incapable of directing the followers. A genuine leader is willing to listen to and follow the advice of others and capable of taking guidance from others.

17. “Peace is costly but it is worth the expense.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

To live a peaceful life, you must be at peace with yourself and your environment. Peace begins inside, and once you have achieved it, you will perceive the advantages in everything around you. Being at ease does not imply that your life is without flaws. Yes, that is why peace is pricey, but it is well worth it.

18. “Traveling is learning.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Traveling teaches you a lot of things. It teaches people how to adapt to new situations, such as new people, cuisine, culture, and language. It allows a man to step beyond his comfort zone, and once there, he may learn and succeed.

It promotes the growth of character characteristics such as patience and humility. At home, you may be a careful planner, but traveling teaches you to relax and go with the flow. Your travel experience will not always go as planned, so embrace your spontaneous side when challenges arise.

19. “Unity is the real thing”

Being united is a great strength, a particular group of people and the place can have. When every person from the group is compatible with their group members, then their unity grows. 

Unity is a method of producing, connecting, and growing. Unity among the individuals could be established when there is mutual sharing within the group.

20. “A little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

A little rain each day will overwhelm the rivers. Similarly, a small contribution every day will help you achieve your objective. You may not realize the outcome of your contributions at the moment, but at the end of the day, you will recognize your success.

21. “Advice is a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day.”

Advice is a guest, if he is accepted, he stays the night. If he is not, he leaves the day. If you believe the advice is sound, don't dismiss it; instead, attempt to use it and improve yourself by rectifying them. If you ignore it, it will no longer be with you, and you will have passed up an opportunity to improve yourself.

22. “The words of the elders become sweet some day.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Someday, the words of the elderly become pleasant. Not respecting elders may seem illogical at the time, but the consequences will be devastating in the long run.

Those old individuals do not speak for the sake of speaking, but their life experience speaks for itself. Those are the recommendations for us to live a comfortable life.

23. “When your neighbor’s horse falls into a pit, you should not rejoice at it, for your own child may fall into it too.”

You should not celebrate when your neighbor is in pain because your child may fall victim to it as well. Whenever a neighbor is in a bad situation, desire to be a helping hand for them. If you can't assist them in any manner, then do not try to pleasure yourself over them, because the next turn may be yours

24. “Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.”

Where you will sit when you are old reflects where you stood when you were young. If you attempt to be optimistic while you are younger, you will develop it in later life. If you work hard towards your objective while you are younger, you would be placed in a significant role in the future.

So, everything is dependent on your actions when you were younger. What you do when you are younger has an impact on your future.

25. “He who does not seize opportunity today, will be unable to seize tomorrow’s opportunity.”

Whoever does not grasp today's opportunity will be unable to snatch tomorrow's opportunity. When you want to do something that is desperately needed by you, never wait for the chance to come to you; instead, create the opportunity.

Never pass up a chance. If you don't take advantage of the chance that is there in front of you and you put it off, you'll wind up skipping every opportunity in the future.

26. “Wisdom does not come overnight.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Intelligence and judiciousness do not appear overnight. Wisdom is something acquired through lots of experiences. An individual learns a lot from experience. An event that teaches a man how to analyze an issue and solve it, also teaches the repercussions of the decision.

It is not as simple as remembering stuff and throwing it away to become a wise person. Wisdom is something that requires the ability to analyze, understand, and apply. Towards becoming a wise man, one must be patient.

27. “The chameleon looks in all directions before moving.”

Before moving, the chameleon glances around. The same applies to all individuals. Be mindful of the repercussions from all angles whenever you perform any action.

The influence of the action has both productive and undesirable consequences. As a result, be mindful of the steps you take to protect yourself against negative consequences.

28. “If you carry the egg basket, do not dance.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Do not be reckless when carrying out or experiencing any key duty. When you are careless with your job, you will wind up ruining it on your own. Be attentive whenever you do something.

29. “Hope does not disappoint.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Hope never fails to deliver. Hope is something that inspires people at all times. Being optimistic demonstrates that you are dedicated to reaching your objective and will never be disappointed.

You may encounter many disappointments, grief, and frustrations when pursuing your long-term or short-term objective, but the only thing that may rejoice you is the hope in you. The hope that changes your fate from a state of perplexity to a state of pleasure.

30. “When I think of others' misfortunes, I forget mine.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

There is an upsurge of problems one after the other daily. Many people will think about and be upset about their issues, but the strange thing is that the other person will be dealing with a lot more than that individual. As a result, you should feel blessed and fortunate since you have fewer issues than others.

31. “Lack of knowledge is darker than night.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

Knowledge enables you to make decisions, solve issues, and comprehend your surroundings. Any intellect you have would be meaningless if you did not have information. 

Knowledge may help you excel in any area. Even the most complicated challenges may be resolved if you have the right knowledge.

32. “If you damage the character of another, you damage your own.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

When you damage another man's personality, you are destroying your own. The way you see and hold thoughts about them reveals your personality. If you have a positive attitude toward people, it may not reflect well on them, but rather on you as a person.

Similarly, when you have a negative attitude toward others, it is related to your thoughts. When you pass judgment on others, keep in mind that it is not about them, but about yourself.

33. “Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grains in a bag with a hole.”

Giving a secret to an unfit person is like airlifting grain in a bag with a hole. Never expose your secrets until you have achieved your goal; but, if you do choose to share them, you must be cautious about whom you share them with.

If you believe the person with whom you reveal your secret will no longer keep it hidden, or if the person performs a prank on it, it is useless and a waste of time and your work.

34. “He who does not know one thing knows another.”

He who is unaware of one thing is aware of another. Everyone is not flawless in every way. Some people may know a few facts that the other person does not.

Nobody understands everything; some individuals excel in one area while others excel in another. Never belittle a person for not knowing what you expect from him since you may not know what that person knows.

35. “One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.”

African Proverbs With Their English Meaning

One lie ruins a thousand truths. If you lie about something, the lie destroys hundreds of your truths. If you lie about something, the lie destroys hundreds of your truths. Your one major lie will cast a negative light on all of your other truths.

These African proverbs would surely have enlightened your thoughts and provided you with ideas on how to live a happy life. 

I hope these African proverbs gave you the pro tips to handle your life pleasantly!!!

Do like and share this article with your friends and let them know these African Proverbs as well.

Also, comment down your favorite African proverb below.

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Jayashree R

Hi, I'm Jayashree. Learn, Capture, Understand, Apply. Have a pleasant learning experience!!!



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