African Proverbs To Get Your Mojo Back
As kids, a lot of us were well-versed in proverbs way before we even grasped the basics of our mother tongues. As a result, this approach led to a lot of people who could drop pearls of wisdom at a moment’s notice, but near-incapable of booking an appointment by themselves.
As an Africa-based company, Digital Odyssey is committed to bringing the best of Africa to you. Our digital marketing agency works towards integrating African ethos and enterprise success in order to create marketing and design that inspires.
What better way to do that than some proverbs to remind ourselves of our rich culture?
Proverbs can be beautiful in their universality, where everyone can relate to them at some level. Most African proverbs are tied to the earth and animals, and their usage across the world can help dispel the stigma of uneducation surrounding Africa – in cultures without literature, proverbs provide a great deal of values and knowledge (and entertainment!).
Witty, abrupt, and often unforgettable, here are some of our top picks of African proverbs to get your mojo back and on track.
Until lions start writing their own stories, hunters will always be the heroes.
From: Kenya, Zimbabwe
Meaning: Unless you find your own voice to tell your story, other people will always tell it for you from their perspective.
Cattle eat pasture together, but have different price tags.
From: Côte D’Ivoire.
Meaning: Just because a group of people is seen together doesn’t mean they share the same history, stories, experiences, or ambitions. You may start a journey together, but everyone has their own race to run.
It takes a village to raise a child.
Meaning: A child’s upbringing is a joint effort – this proverb emphasises the importance of family (during a period pre-modernisation and of communal living). Everyone is one big family and equally responsible for a child regardless of blood relation.
Only an animal that uses its teeth for climbing knows which tree is bitter.
From: Igbo tribe, Nigeria.
Meaning: Some life experiences can only be truly appreciated and understood when it’s first-hand.
Sugarcane is sweetest at midpoint.
Meaning: Reaping the fruits of one’s labour is a slow and gradual process, but the most satisfying. There are matters we must attend prior to accessing our goals.
Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop.
From: West and Central Africa.
Meaning: Referring to acts of exploitation, this proverb talks about how one person does all the work and the other takes gains all the benefits and credit for it.
When the shepherd comes home in peace, the milk is sweet.
Meaning: A calm and peaceful mind creates the best work and the happiest environment.
Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.
From: Yoruba people.
Meaning: Your actions, thoughts and behaviour in youth will carry over to old age, and this later stage in life is a representation of who you were as a young person.
Do a good deed and throw it into the sea.
Meaning: Once you’ve done a good deed, forget about it. Don’t expect good to come to you just because you did good, it will find you anyway.
We desire to bequeath two things to our children; the first one is roots, and the other one is wings.
Meaning: Nearly self-explanatory, this proverb means that we want two things for our children; for them to have a solid foundation to survive any hardships, but also the strength and opportunities to move forward and be successful and happy.
African leaders, time and time again, have turned to proverbs to inspire themselves and acquire the respect of their people. After all, a couple of words that sum up a complicated situation has the ability to unify people across the world.
Everyone faces a lot of difficulties in life, but our agency knows that if one finger tries to pick something up from the ground, it can’t (by the Ashanti, Ghana). So let us help.
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