« Sumu ɲuɔnliɛn kɔlɔn ye n banu kaa a na kai. » (Bozo-Djenaama)
The stranger has big eyes but he does not see anything.


« Jirikurun men o men ji la, a te ke bama ye. » (Bambara)
No matter how long a log stays in the water, it doesn’t become a crocodile.


« Akpa le tome gake menya tsi fe vevie nyenyeo. » (Ewe)
A fish is in water but does not know the importance of water. (literal translation)
A fish is the last to acknowledge the existence of water. (figurative translation)


« Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa. » (Yoruba Swahili)

One finger cannot kill a louse.


These proverbs will be part of my first teaching session tomorrow. Can you guess what the topic will be?

2 thoughts on “African Proverbs

  1. The citation identified as a ‘Yoruba proverb’ is actually a relatively prosaic commentary in Swahili: “One person alone cannot accomplish much. Unity is strength and division is weakness.” Clearly we need other people, especially to understand our milieu and to generally to acculturate.

  2. Thanks, Douglas. I corrected it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found this inaccurate quote.

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