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Wisdom is Wealth: 265 African Wise Proverbs & Quotes About Life, Rich African Culture

African proverbs and wise sayings

Wisdom is wealth! One thing I respect deeply about Africa is the treasure of wisdom our ancestors have handed down to us. While some of our leaders may have forgotten them, the rest of us don’t need to. From prudent sayings on wisdom itself, to judicious encouragements, warnings and even quirky advice on learning, patience, unity, wealth, poverty, community, family, love and marriage, these quotes will inspire you to be the best you can possibly be.


african proverbs and sayings

African Quotes on Wisdom

  1. Wisdom is wealth. ~ Swahili
  2.  Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb
  3.  The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  4. Wisdom does not come overnight. ~ Somali proverb
  5. The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water. ~ Cameroon proverb
  6. Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ~ Hema (DRC) proverb
  7. Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb
  8. Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb
  9. In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb
  10. If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb
  11. A wise person will always find a way. ~ Tanzanian proverb
  12. Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb 
  13. A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb
  14. Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb

african proverbs

African Quotes on Learning

  1. Learning expands great souls. ~ Namibian proverb
  2. To get lost is to learn the way. ~ African proverb
  3. By crawling a child learns to stand. ~ African proverb
  4. If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents. ~ African proverb
  5. He who learns, teaches. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  6. Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases. ~ Swahili proverb
  7. By trying often, the monkey learns to jump from the tree. ~ Buganda proverb
  8. You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win. ~ African proverb
  9. You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
  10. The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat. ~ African proverb
  11. What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn. ~African proverb
  12. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed. ~Ashanti proverb
  13. One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom. ~ African proverb
  14. You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. ~Congolese proverb
  15. What you learn is what you die with. ~ African proverb
  16. Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone. ~Moroccan Proverb
  17. When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. ~Ashanti Proverb
  18. Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off. ~African Proverb
  19. Advice is a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day. ~Malagasy Proverb
  20. Traveling is learning. ~Kenyan Proverb
  21. Where there are experts there will be no lack of learners. ~Swahili Proverb

African proverbs on Peace and Leadership

  1. Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. ~Kenyan proverb
  2. War has no eyes ~ Swahili saying
  3. When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful. ~Ashanti proverb
  4. Peace does not make a good ruler. ~Botswana proverb
  5. A fight between grasshoppers is a joy to the crow. ~ Lesotho proverb
  6. There can be no peace without understanding. ~Senegalese proverb
  7. Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully. ~ African proverb
  8. If you can’t resolve your problems in peace, you can’t solve war. ~ Somalian proverb
  9. When there is peace in the country, the chief does not carry a shield. ~Ugandan proverb
  10. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.  ~ Swahili saying
  11. Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. ~ West African proverb
  12. He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk. ~ Malawian proverb
  13. An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. ~ Ghanaian proverb
  14. He who is destined for power does not have to fight for it. ~ Ugandan proverb
  15. Do not forget what is to be a sailor because of being a captain yourself. ~ Tanzanian proverb
  16. Without a leader, black ants are confused. ~Ugandan proverb
  17. He who refuses to obey cannot command. ~ Kenyan proverb
  18. He who fears the sun will not become chief. ~Ugandan proverb
  19. A large chair does not make a king. ~ Sudanese proverb
  20. Because he lost his reputation, he lost a kingdom. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  21. Where a woman rules, streams run uphill. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  22. A leader who does not take advice is not a leader. ~ Kenyan proverb
  23. If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a body-guard. ~ Sierra Leone proverb

african proverbs and sayings

African Quotes on Unity and Community

  1. Unity is strength, division is weakness. ~ Swahili proverb
  2. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~ Bondei proverb
  3. It takes a village to raise a child. ~ African proverb
  4. Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African proverb
  5. Many hands make light work. ~ Haya (Tanzania) proverb
  6. Where there are many, nothing goes wrong. ~ Swahili proverb
  7. Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper. ~ Tanzanian proverb
  8. A single bracelet does not jingle. ~ Congolese proverb
  9. A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn. ~ African proverb
  10. If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb

african proverbs

African Quotes on Family

  1. A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place. ~ African Proverb
  2. A united family eats from the same plate. ~ Baganda proverb
  3. A family tie is like a tree, it can bend but it cannot break. ~ African proverb
  4. If I am in harmony with my family, that’s success. ~ Ute proverb
  5. Brothers love each other when they are equally rich. ~ African proverb
  6. Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  7. There is no fool who is disowned by his family. ~ African proverb
  8. Home affairs are not talked about on the public square. ~ African proverb
  9. If relatives help each other, what evil can hurt them? ~ African proverb
  10. He who earns calamity, eats it with his family. ~ African proverb
  11. Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  12. The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth. ~ Akan (Ghana, Ivory Coast) proverb
  13. When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate. ~ Ibo proverb
  14. Children are the reward of life. ~ African proverb

african proverbs and sayings

African Proverbs on Friendship

  1. To be without a friend is to be poor indeed.  ~ Tanzanian proverb
  2. Hold a true friend with both hands. ~ African proverb
  3. The friends of our friends are our friends.  ~ Congolese proverb
  4. A friend is someone you share the path with. ~ African proverb
  5. Show me your friend and I will show you your character. ~ African proverb
  6. Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you. ~ African proverb
  7. Between true friends even water drunk together is sweet enough. ~ African proverb
  8. A small house will hold a hundred friends. ~ African proverb
  9. A close friend can become a close enemy.~ African proverb
  10. Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends.  ~ Gabon proverb

african sayings and proverbs

African Proverbs on Money, Wealth, Riches and Poverty

  1.  Make some money but don’t let money make you. ~ Tanzania
  2. It is no shame at all to work for money. ~ Africa
  3. He who loves money must labor. ~ Mauritania
  4. By labor comes wealth. ~ Yoruba
  5. Poverty is slavery. ~Somalia
  6. One cannot both feast and become rich. ~ Ashanti
  7. One cannot count on riches. ~ Somalia
  8. Money is sharper than the sword. – Ashanti
  9. A man’s wealth may be superior to him. ~ Cameroon
  10. The rich are always complaining. ~ Zulu
  11. The wealth which enslaves the owner isn’t wealth. ~ Yoruba
  12. The poor man and the rich man do not play together. ~ Ashanti
  13. Lack of money is lack of friends; if you have money at your disposal, every dog and goat will claim to be related to you. ~ Yoruba
  14. With wealth one wins a woman. ~ Uganda
  15. Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat; it is just that no one ever gives them meat. ~ Akan
  16. A real family eats the same cornmeal. ~ Bayombe
  17. If your cornfield is far from your house, the birds will eat your corn. ~ Congo
  18. Money can’t talk, yet it can make lies look true. ~ South Africa
  19. One cannot count on riches. ~ Somalia
  20. Money is not the medicine against death. ~ Ghana
  21. He who receives a gift does not measure. ~ Africa
  22. Much wealth brings many enemies. – Swahili
  23. There is no one who became rich because he broke a holiday, no one became fat because he broke a fast. ~ Ethiopia
  24. What you give you get, ten times over. ~ Yoruba
  25. Greed loses what it has gained. ~ Africa
  26. You become wise when you begin to run out of money. ~ Ghana
  27. If ten cents does not go out, it does not bring in one thousand dollars. ~ Ghana
  28. You should not hoard your money and die of hunger. – Ghana
  29. Wealth diminishes with usage; learning increases with use. ~ Nigeria
  30. Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan
  31. Having a good discussion is like having riches ~ Kenya
  32. Knowledge is better than riches. ~ Cameroon
  33. You must act as if it is impossible to fail. ~ Ashanti
  34. Do not let what you cannot do tear from your hands what you can. ~ Ashanti

african proverbs


African Proverbs on Beauty

  1. One who plants grapes by the road side, and one who marries a pretty woman, share the same problem. ~Ethiopian Proverb
  2. Beautiful from behind, ugly in front. ~Uganda Proverb
  3. The skin of the leopard is beautiful, but not his heart. ~Baluba proverb
  4. Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty. ~Nigerian Proverb
  5. A beautiful one hurts the heart. ~African Proverb
  6. Anyone who sees beauty and does not look at it will soon be poor. ~Yoruba Proverb
  7. The surface of the water is beautiful, but it is no good to sleep on. ~Ghanaian Proverb
  8. If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. ~Nigerian Proverb
  9. You are beautiful, but learn to work, for you cannot eat your beauty. ~Congolese Proverb
  10. The one who loves an unsightly person is the one who makes him beautiful. ~Ganda Proverb
  11. Having beauty doesn’t mean understanding the perseverance of marriage. ~African Proverb
  12. You are beautiful because of your possessions. ~Baguirmi Proverb
  13. Every woman is beautiful until she speaks. ~Zimbabwean Proverb
  14. Three things cause sorrow to flee; water, green trees, and a beautiful face. ~Moroccan Proverb
  15. A beautiful thing is never perfect. ~Egyptian Proverb
  16. Patience is the mother of a beautiful child. ~Bantu Proverb
  17. There is no beauty but the beauty of action. ~Moroccan Proverb
  18. Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you. ~African Proverb
  19. A pretty face and fine clothes do not make character. ~Congolese Proverb
  20. Youth is beauty, even in cattle. ~Egyptian Proverb
  21. A pretty basket does not prevent worries. ~Congolese Proverb
  22. It’s those ugly caterpillars that turn into beautiful butterflies after seasons. ~African Proverb
  23. The most beautiful fig may contain a worm. ~Zulu Proverb
  24. It is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir. ~African Proverb
  25. A woman who pursues a man for sex loses her spiritual beauty. ~African Proverb
  26. A chicken with beautiful plumage does not sit in a corner. ~African Proverb
  27. The cook does not have to be a beautiful woman. ~Shona Proverb
  28. Beautiful words don’t put porridge in the pot. ~Botswana Proverb
  29. She is beautiful; she has love, understands; she respects herself and others; everyone likes, loves and honors her; she is a goddess. ~African Proverb
  30. There is always a winner even in a monkey’s beauty contest. ~African Proverb
  31. Dress up a stick and it’ll be a beautiful bride. ~Egyptian Proverb
  32. An ugly child of your own is more to you than a beautiful one belonging to your neighbor. ~Ganda Proverb
  33. Even the colors of a chameleon are for survival not beauty. ~African Proverb
  34. Beautiful discourse is rarer than emerald ~ yet it can be found among the servant girls at the grindstones. ~Egyptian Proverb
  35. When a once-beautiful piece of cloth has turned into rags, no one remembers that it was woven by Ukwa master weavers. ~Igbo Proverb
  36. A woman’s polite devotion is her greatest beauty. ~African Proverb
  37. There are many colorful flowers on the path of life, but the prettiest have the sharpest thorns. ~African Proverb
  38. He who marries a beauty marries trouble. ~Nigerian Proverb
  39. Despite the beauty of the moon, sun and the stars, the sky also has a threatening thunder and striking lightening. ~African Proverb
  40. Getting only a beautiful woman is like planting a vine on the roadside everyone feeds on it. ~African Proverb
  41. Greatness and beauty do not belong to the gods alone. ~Nigerian Proverb
  42. Roosters’ tail feathers: pretty but always behind. ~Malagasy Proverb
  43. Beauty is not sold and eaten. ~Nigerian Proverb
  44. She is like a road – pretty, but crooked. ~Cameroonian Proverb
  45. Why they like an ugly person takes long for a beautiful person to know. ~African Proverb
  46. If you find “Miss This Year” beautiful, then you’ll find “Miss Next Year” even more so. ~Nigerian Proverb
  47. The beauty of a woman becomes useless if there is no one to admire it. ~African Proverb

african proverbs

African Love and Marriage Quotes

  1. He who loves the vase loves also what is inside. ~ African proverb
  2. It’s much easier to fall in love than to stay in love. ~ African proverb
  3. Coffee and love taste best when hot. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  4. Where there is love there is no darkness. ~Burundian proverb
  5. If you are ugly you must either learn to dance or make love. ~ Zimbabwean Proverp
  6. Pretend you are dead and you will see who really loves you. ~ African proverb
  7. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better. ~ Wolof proverb
  8. A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries. ~ African proverb
  9. If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is. ~ Egyptian proverb
  10. Love never gets lost it’s only kept. ~ African proverb
  11. Never marry a woman who has bigger feet than you. ~ Mozambique proverb
  12. One thread for the needle, one love for the heart. ~ Sudanese proverb
  13. Love has to be shown by deeds not words. ~ Swahili proverb
  14. Love is a despot who spares no one. ~Namibian proverb
  15. Marriage is like a groundnut; you have to crack it to see what is inside. ~ Ghanaian proverb

ndebele house

African Quotes on Patience

  1. Patience is the key which solves all problems. ~ Sudanese proverb
  2. Hurry, hurry has no blessings. ~ Swahili proverb
  3. Patience is the mother of a beautiful child. ~ Bantu proverb
  4. To run is not necessarily to arrive. ~ Swahili proverb
  5. Patience can cook a stone. ~ African proverb
  6. A patient man will eat ripe fruit. ~ African proverb
  7. At the bottom of patience one finds heaven. ~ African proverb
  8. A patient person never misses a thing. ~ Swahili proverb
  9. Patience puts a crown on the head. ~ Ugandan proverb
  10. Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far. ~ Swahili proverb
  11. Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living. ~ Ibo proverb
  12. However long the night, the dawn will break. ~ African proverb (personal favourite!)

traditional food

African Quotes on Food

  1. As porridge benefits those who heat and eat it, so does a child benefit those that rear it. ~Amharic Proverb
  2. The forest not only hides man’s enemies but its full of man’s medicine, healing power and food. ~African Proverb
  3. One person is a thin porridge; two or three people are a lump of ugali. ~Kuria Proverb
  4. The man who counts the bits of food he swallows is never satisfied. ~African Proverb
  5. Wine, women and food give gladness to the heart. ~Ancient Egyptian Proverb
  6. The food that is in the mouth is not yet in the belly. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  7. You cannot work for food when there is no food for work. ~African Proverb
  8. The chicken that digs for food will not sleep hungry. ~Bayombe Proverb
  9. He who eats another mans food will have his own food eaten by others. ~Swahili Proverb
  10. Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with gravel in his mouth. ~African Proverb
  11. No partridge scratches the ground in search of food for another. ~Xhosa Proverb
  12. The grasshopper which is always near its mother eats the best food. ~Ghanaian Proverb
  13. Don’t take another mouthful before you have swallowed what is in your mouth. ~Malagasy Proverb
  14. Rich people sometimes eat bad food. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  15. The impotent man does not eat spicy foods. ~Congolese Proverb
  16. You should know what’s being cooked in the kitchen otherwise you might eat a forbidden food. ~African Proverb
  17. When the leg does not walk, the stomach does not eat. ~Mongo (Congolese) Proverb
  18. A healthy person who begs for food is an insult to a generous farmer. ~Ghanaian Proverb
  19. One spoon of soup in need has more value than a pot of soup when we have an abundance of food. ~Angolan Proverb
  20. Cooked food is not sold for goats. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  21. The mouth is stupid after eating it forgets who gave it the food. ~African Proverb
  22. A dog knows the places he is thrown food. ~Acholi Proverb
  23. One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of the food with others. ~African Proverb
  24. Words are sweet, but they never take the place of food. ~Ibo Proverb
  25. The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine. ~Yoruba Proverb
  26. He who doesn’t clean his mouth before breakfast always complains that the food is sour. ~African Proverb
  27. The hyena with a cub does not consume all the available food. ~Akamba Proverb
  28. When the food is cooked there is no need to wait before eating it. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  29. What one won’t eat by itself, one will eat when mixed with other food. ~Bantu & Lamba Proverb
  30. Man is like a pepper, till you have chewed it you do not know how hot it is. ~Haussa Proverb
  31. No one gets a mouthful of food by picking between another person’s teeth. ~Igbo Proverb
  32. It is not the cook’s fault when the cassava turns out to be hard and tasteless. ~Ewe Proverb
  33. A housewife who complains that there is not enough foodstuff in the market should remember that if her husband adds to what is already available, there would be more for everyone. ~Nigerian Proverb
  34. A spider’s cobweb isn’t only its sleeping spring but also its food trap. ~African Proverb
  35. If you watch your pot, your food will not burn. ~Mauritanian, Nigerian, and Niger Proverb
  36. Those who are at one regarding food are at one in life. ~Malawian Proverb
  37. Fine words do not produce food. ~Nigerian Proverb
  38. Even the best cooking pot will not produce food. ~African Proverb
  39. If I could see your face, I would not need food. ~Amharic Proverb
  40. If you find no fish, you have to eat bread. ~Ghanaian Proverb
  41. War is not porridge. ~Gikuyu Proverb
  42. The best of mankind is a farmer; the best food is fruit. ~Ethiopian Proverb
  43. Slowly, slowly, porridge goes into the gourd. ~Kuria People of Kenyan & Tanzania
  44. One shares food not words. ~Somali Proverb
  45. If you are looking for a fly in your food it means that you are full. ~South African Proverb
  46. Nature gave us two cheeks instead of one to make it easier to eat hot food. ~Ghanaian Proverb
  47. A patient that can swallow food makes the nurse doubtful. ~Malagasy Proverb
  48. If you give bad food to your stomach, it drums for you to dance. ~African Proverb
  49. A bad cook also has his/her share of the bad food. ~African Proverb
  50. The forest provides food to the hunter after he is utterly exhausted. ~Zimbabwean Proverb
  51. Things are to be tried, an old lady cooked stones and they produced soup. ~Zimbabwean Proverb
  52. You cannot tell a hungry child that you gave him food yesterday. ~Zimbabwean Proverb
  53. Good music goes with good food. ~African Proverb
  54. Rich people cook their food in a potsherd. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  55. However little food we have, we’ll share it even if it’s only one locust. ~Malagasy Proverb
  56. Water is colourless and tasteless but you can live on it longer than eating food. ~African Proverb
  57. Eat when the food is ready; speak when the time is right. ~Ethiopian Proverb
  58. The food eaten first lasts longest in the stomach. ~Kikuyu Proverb
  59. When your luck deserts you, even cold food burns. ~Zambian Proverb
  60. Happiness is as good as food. ~Maasai Proverb
  61. Good words are food, bad words poison. ~Malagasy Proverb
  62. The goat says: “Where there is blood, there is plenty of food.” ~Ghanaian Proverb
  63. If you see a man in a gown eating with a man in rags, the food belongs to the latter. ~Fulani Proverb
  64. They ate our food, and forgot our names. ~Tunisian Proverb
  65. An abundance of food at your neighbour’s will not satisfy your hunger. ~Bayaka Proverb
  66. Food you will not eat you do not boil. ~African Proverb



Written by PH


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  1. I’m quiet thrilled with this collection – Indeed our people have existed for far longer than it is made known – I cannot explain my joy in words but can only try – I will continue to reintegrate this way of life in my daily life sum more.

    Thank you

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