Monday, 23 January 2012

Proverbs brewed in the African pot !

Welcome to the Lane...!

Our elders say “a word to the wise is enough” I never understood this this statement until recently, it simply means that a fool does not heed to advise! How true….there is also a saying in Akan that goes like “akwa nyasafo ye bu nu b3 nye ka na asem(forgive me for my bad twi) this literally means that “a wise person is best advised through a proverb not a long sermon” ….no wonder many African languages are laced with  so many proverbs…from the Berber of north Africa, the Akans, Ewe, Gas, all of Ghana, the Ebo and the Yoruba of Nigeria and right down to the Zulu of south Africa, Africans employ this device to record history and pass on wisdom.

The use of proverbs in one’s speech shows ones level of command of a language. It is therefore not strange for an elder to start a conversation with a proverb pause with one and end the conversation with another. So the next time you speak with an elder pay close attention and don’t miss those snippets of wisdom brewed in the African pot.

Below is an index of proverbs taken from all over the continent…I will keep on updating this page till I get all of them here -on the lane-almost an impossibility but try I will!

Ghanaian proverbs    

  •  It is the fool's sheep that break loose twice.
  • It's a bad child who does not take advice.
  • Money is sharper than a sword.
  • No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
  • One cannot both feast and become rich.
  • One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.
  • Only when you have crossed the river, can you say the crocodile has a lump on his snout.
  • Rain beats a leopard's skin, but it does not wash out the spots. (Ashanti) Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.
  • Even though the old man is strong and hearty, he will not live forever.
  • Fire and gunpowder do not sleep together.
  • Hunger is felt by a slave and hunger is felt by a king.
  • If you are in hiding, don't light a fire.
  • It is Mr. Old-Man-Monkey who marries Mrs. Old-Woman-Monkey.
  • It is no shame at all to work for money.
  • It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man.
  • The moon moves slowly, but it crosses the town. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed.
  • The poor man and the rich man do not play together.
  • The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.
  • There is no medicine to cure hatred.
  • When the fool is told a proverb, its meaning has to be explained to him.
  • When you are rich, you are hated; when you are poor, you are despised.
  • When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.
  • Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight
  • Two small antelopes can beat a big one.
  • What is bad luck for one man is good luck for another.
  • When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful.
  • When a man is coming toward you, you need not say: "Come here."
  • When a man is wealthy, he may wear an old cloth.
  • When a woman is hungry, she says, "Roast something for the children that they might eat."
  • When the cock is drunk, he forgets about the hawk. 
  •  However long the night, the dawn will break.
  • A dog knows the places he is thrown food.
  • Blind belief is dangerous.  - Luyia , Western Kenya
  • Bad dancing does not brake an engagement.  - Luyia , Western Kenya
  • A messenger cannot be beaten .  - Luyia proverbs , Western Kenya
  • A Dog that steals sells its body.  - Luyia proverbs , Western Kenya
  • A Champion bull starts from birth.  - Luyia.Western Kenya
  • The pillar of the world is hope.  - Kanuri proverb, Nigeria
  • A tree not taller than an ant cannot shade you.  - Kanuri proverb, Nigeria
  • He who marries a real beauty is seeking trouble.  - Accra proverb, Ghana
  • The young can't teach traditions to the old.  - Yoruba proverb
  • There is no medicine against old age.    - Accra proverb, Ghana
  • That man's a fool whose sheep flees twice.    - Oji proverb
  • When your mouth stumbles, it's worse than feet.    - Oji proverb
  • Hold a true friend with both hands.  - Kanuri proverb, Nigeria
  • The pillar of the world is hope.  - Kanuri proverb, Nigeria
  • One does not love if one does not accept from others.  - Kanuri proverb, Nigeria
  • Rising early makes the road short.  - Wolof proverb, Senegal
  • It is better to walk than curse the road.  - Wolof proverb, Senegal
  • The teeth of a man serve as a fence.  - Wolof proverb, Senegal
  • We add wisdom to knowledge.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • A hyena cannot smell its own stench.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • Do not follow a person who is running a way.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • We should put out fire while it is still small.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • Water can not be forced uphill.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • The eye is a coward.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • We should talk while we are still alive.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • Even a friend can not rescue one from old age.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • You can not take away someone's luck.  - Kalenjin (Kenya)
  • There is no bad patience.  - (Knappert, p. 46, Swahili).
  • A low-class man will just talk; deeds are the hallmark of a gentleman.  - (Knappert, p. 84, Swahili)
  • God is our neighbour when our brother is absent.  - (Knappert, p. 33, Swahili)
  • A donkey knows no gratitude.  - (Knappert, p. 138, Swahili)
  • The climber of ladders will descend [the ambitious person will be brought back down].  - (Knappert, p. 93, Swahili)
  • The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long.   - Ethiopia (Ayele, p. 23, Amharic)
  • The haughty blind person picks a fight with his guide.   - Ethiopia
  • The best of mankind is a farmer; the best food is fruit.    - Ethiopia
  • Do not vacillate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing.  - Ethiopia
  • It is foolhardy to climb two trees at once just because one has two feet.  - Ethiopia
  • Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
  • When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you.    - Cape Coast, Ghana
  • A stranger does not skin a sheep that is paid as a fine at a chief's court.   - Cape Coast, Ghana
  • The orphan does not rejoice after a heavy breakfast.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
  • The chicken is never declared          in the court of hawks.  - Cape Coast, Ghana
  • He flees from the roaring lion to the crouching lion.    Sechuana
  • A crime eats its own child.  Sechuana
  • A sorcerer has no distinctive colour.  Sechuana
  • He has not married a woman; for she is [the equal of] a man.    Sechuana
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