Africa

Africa's proverb of the day

A woman and her child in Casamance, Senegal Photo: Manuel Toledo
Image caption "A baby on its mother's back does not know the way is long"

Proverbs are an integral part of African culture. Passed on from generation to generation for centuries, they are still in wide use today and are very much part of everyday speech.

Proverbs are used to illustrate ideas, reinforce arguments and deliver messages of inspiration, consolation, celebration and advice.

The great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe once wrote: "Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten."

Use this form to send in your wise words. Under the form you can see some of the proverbs we have published recently.

Your proverbs from the last few months:

Monday 31 December

Bad dancing does not break an engagement. A Luyia / Gisu proverb sent by Sheila Oder, Kampala, Uganda

Friday 28 December

When the leopard has a toothache, then the goat can go and collect a debt. A Krio proverb from Sierra Leone sent by Sigismond Wilson, Oklahoma, United States

Thursday 27 December

When one finger touches palm oil, it soils the others. Sent by Samuel Amayo, Benin City, Nigeria

Wednesday 26 December

No matter how thorough a crow bathes, it is still black. Sent by Smith Moyo, Salima, Malawi

Tuesday 25 December

A man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot know where he dried his body. An Igbo proverb sent by Chrys Nnabuife, London, UK

Monday 24 December

Those who die as the result of their folly are many; those who die as the result of their wisdom are few. Sent by Amos Faleye, Ogun State, Nigeria

Friday 21 December

Despise not a snail for its slow and struggling movement; it has a destination and with time it shall arrive. Sent by Alfred Jah Johnson, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday 20 December

One whose house is on fire does not hunt rats. An Igbo proverb sent by Azu Joyce Okwuchi, Isuochi, Abia, Nigeria

Wednesday 19 December

A child does not teach how to breastfeed. Sent by Moses Mayen Mayen, South Sudan

Tuesday 18 December

Work is the antidote for poverty. A Yoruba proverb sent by Collins Adelakun Tope, Osun State, Nigeria

Monday 17 December

Deep down the cat is a beast. Sent by Tadele Teferra, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Friday 14 December

One does not learn how to use the left hand in old age. An Igbo proverb sent by Igedu Stephen, Delta State, Nigeria

Thursday 13 December

A cooking pot for the chameleon is a cooking pot for the lizard. A Nigerian proverb sent by Michael Okorie, Tromso, Norway

Wednesday 12 December

In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins a case. A proverb from Rwanda and Burundi sent by Imonitie C. Imoisili, Lagos, Nigeria

Tuesday 11 December

The rambling pole-cat leaves its house when there is banquet. A Kikuyu proverb sent by Dan Kamotho, Nairobi, Kenya

Monday 10 December

Better to stumble with the foot than with the tongue. A Swahili proverb sent by Meg Burley, London, UK

Friday 7 December

When the head is present, the knee should not pretend to wear the hat. A Baoule proverb from Ivory Coast, sent by Moysekou, Kuwait

Thursday 6 December

The hunter who is never satisfied with small game, may be obliged to carry home an elephant one day. Sent by Ayo Howard, in Uganda, and Uzodinma Collins, in Nigeria

Wednesday 5 December

The talk coming out of your mouth is not something you can carry on your head. A Pidgin proverb from Cameroon, sent by Leonora Orr, Hanalei, Hawaii, United States

Tuesday 4 December

Only a foolish child points to his father's house with the left hand. An Igbo proverb sent by Ndidi Nwaulu, Aba, Nigeria

Monday 3 December

No one tests the depth of the river with both feet. Sent by Nana Kwame, Ghana

Friday 30 November

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. Sent by Fisum T, Ethiopia

Thursday 29 November

If you want to speak to God, tell it to the wind. Sent by Jason Mills Lamptey, in Accra, Ghana, and Johnny Asare, in Chigasaki, Japan

Wednesday 28 November

Do not depend on a dead man's shoes when you do not know their size. A Krio proverb sent by Joyce Sowa, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Christopher Okwedy, in Wilmington, United States

Tuesday 27 November

A cow dies with grass in its mouth. A Kenyan (Luo) proverb sent by Irene Agwa, Vienna, Austria

Monday 26 November

The chicken does not forget the person who plucked its tail feathers during the rainy season. An Igbo proverb sent by Nnabuife N Orji, Festac, Nigeria

Friday 23 November

When in the middle of a river, do not insult the crocodile. A Baoule proverb sent by Bosco Kouassi Attoungbre, in Ivory Coast, Tendai Magadu, in the UK, and Kris Kaswaya, in Zambia

Thursday 22 November

The death that kills a man begins as an appetite. Sent by Kevwe, Lagos, Nigeria

Wednesday 21 November

Marriage is not palm wine to be tasted. An Akan proverb sent by Jonathan Castel Djietror, Tema, Ghana

Tuesday 20 November

The dead man does not know the value of his coffin. Sent by Francis Kabika, Senanga, Zambia

Monday 19 November

A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing. An Igbo proverb sent by Ugwu Solomon Ikechukwu, Ankpan, Nigeria

Friday 16 November

To pick something up from under a bed, you must bend down. A Swahili proverb sent by Stephen Iworete, Chwele, Kenya

Thursday 15 November

Knowledge is like a baobab tree; no one person can embrace it. An Akan and Ewe proverb sent by Deletsu Dennis Selase, Accra, Ghana

Wednesday 14 November

He who fetches firewood infected with ants invites lizards to his house. Sent by Chrys Nnabuife, London, UK

Tuesday 13 November

He who has not travelled widely thinks his mother is the best cook. Sent by Terry Musonda, Lusaka, Zambia

Monday 12 November

A butterfly thinks itself a bird because it can fly. Sent by Esther Odame Yirenkyiwaa, Accra, Ghana

Friday 9 November

It takes the whole village to raise a child. Sent by Martin Manyiel Wugol, Rumbek, South Sudan, and Kisambira Kis Hasan, Uganda

Thursday 8 November

Everybody loves a fool but nobody wants him for a son. Sent by Peyechu Delphine Shiyghan, Bamenda, Cameroon

Wednesday 7 November

The child who knows how to wash his hands, eats with the elders. Sent by Abdulai Banguranin and Mohamed Ahmed Mansour, both in Sierra Leone, and Abdul Ghanee Saeed in Ghana

Tuesday 6 November

A tree which is shorter than an ant cannot shade you. A Kanuri proverb sent by Pax Nvani, Eket, Nigeria

Monday 5 November

A big goat does not sneeze without a reason. Sent by Upile Nytslayer Chikopa, Mzuzu, Malawi

Friday 2 November

Quarrels end but words once spoken never die. Sent by Malueth Jacob Gueet, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Thursday 1 November

The crab does not give birth to a bird. Sent by David Mario Toroo and Stanley Yaidoo, both from Ghana

Wednesday 31 October

The fall of a dead leaf is a warning to the green ones. Sent by Alex Wewele, Delta State, Nigeria

Tuesday 30 October

If a bird is dancing in the road, the thing that is drumming for him is in the bush. An Igbo proverb sent by Uchenna Osigwe, Canada

Monday 29 October

By trying often, the monkey learns to jump from the tree. Sent by Geoffrey Chibuzor Nwuruku, Havana, Cuba

Friday 26 October

A dead donkey does not fear the hyena. Sent by Girmaye Kebede, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Thursday 25 October

A straight tree never lasts in the forest. Sent by Adebayo Olabode, Akure, Nigeria

Wednesday 24 October

The pot of water falls from your head when you have just reached the door of your homestead. Sent by Nicholas P'Laker in Juba, South Sudan, and Justus Matende in Missouri, United States

Tuesday 23 October

The higher a baboon climbs a tree, the more undesirable are the parts exposed. Sent by Kankiriho Rogers, Bushenyi, Mbarara, Uganda

Monday 22 October

The man whose house is on fire does not go around chasing rats. Sent by Edith Ugwu, Abuja, Nigeria

Friday 19 October

Rain does not fall on one roof alone. Sent by Peyechu Delphine Shiyghan, in Bamenda, Cameroon, and Ezeh Raphael, in Abuja, Nigeria

Thursday 18 October

What made the vulture bald is enough to kill the crow. Sent by Francis Kennedy Ocloo and Kramxx Walker, both in Ghana

Wednesday 17 October

If you don't want a monkey's tail to touch you, don't go to a monkey dance. Sent by Amodoi Derrick, Kampala, Uganda

Tuesday 16 October

When an old woman falls down twice, people should check what is in her basket. Sent by Dunmoye Femi and Nnaemena James Chukwunweike, both from Nigeria

Monday 15 October

Be careful when you are sharing a calabash of porridge with a toothless man. Sent by Mayen Imen, Perth, Australia

Friday 12 October

Kola nuts last longer in the mouth of those who value them. Sent by Bonti Benjamin, in Ghana, and Okeke James in Nigeria

Thursday 11 October

When a cock invites a cockroach for a birthday party, he has prepared dinner for himself. Sent by Alfred Jah Johnson, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday 10 October

A cat in her house has the teeth of a lion. A Somali proverb sent by Fysal Mohamed

Tuesday 9 October

A wicked elder sows suffering for his children. A Yoruba proverb sent by Kunle Esho, London, UK

Monday 8 October

Ears that do not listen to advice accompany the head when it is chopped off. Sent by Michael Ebong in Lagos, Nigeria, and Chea Wesseh in Saclepea, Liberia

Friday 5 October

When you see an old man running in a thorn forest, if he is not running after something then something is running after him. A Yoruba proverb sent by Yomi, from Porto, Portugal

Thursday 4 October

All lizards lie flat on their stomach and it is difficult to determine which one has a stomach ache. A Yoruba proverb sent by Gardea Gad Peters, in Monrovia, Liberia, and Geoffrey Chibuzor Nwuruku, in Havana, Cuba

Wednesday 3 October

If you are bitten by a black thing, then you will even fear a piece of charcoal. A Chewa proverb sent by Nalideni Kautemba and Fraser Nyale, both from Malawi

Tuesday 2 October

One does not lay hands on a load one cannot lift. A Yoruba proverb sent by Ibhalu Obayendo, Lagos, Nigeria

Monday 1 October

The chick that gets closer to its mother gets the thigh of the grasshopper. An Akan proverb sent by Kofi Nak, Ghana

Your African proverb

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