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Student Handout African Proverbs
Submitted by Christine Romeo, Bridgewater-Raritan High School

  1. The house-roof fights with the rain, but he who is sheltered ignores it. (Wolof)
  2. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better. (Wolof)
  3. Allah does not destroy the men whom one hates. (Wolof)
  4. If nothing touches the palm-leaves they do not rustle. (Ashanti)
  5. He is a fool whose sheep runs away twice. (Ashanti)
  6. The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine. (Yoruba)
  7. Because friendship is pleasant, we partake of our friend's entertainment; not because we have not enough to eat in our own house. (Yoruba)
  8. When your neighbor's horse falls into a pit, you should not rejoice at it, for your own child may fall into it too. (Yoruba)
  9. The pot-lid is always badly off: the pot gets all the sweet, the lid nothing but steam. (Yoruba)
  10. Don't remember the evil things only while forgetting to be thankful for the good deeds. (Swahili)
  11. Hate me, but I won't stop telling you the truth. (Swahili)
  12. He/she who doesn't know you, doesn't value you. (Swahili)
  13. A comb becomes bad when it hurts you. (Swahili)
  14. He/she who relies on his/her relative's property, dies poor. (Swahili)
  15. Don't set sail using someone else's star. (Swahili)
  16. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed. (Ashanti)
  17. Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle. (Ashanti)
  18. Fire and gunpowder do not sleep together. (Ashanti)
  19. Hunger is felt by a slave and hunger is felt by a king. (Ashanti)
  20. It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man. (Ashanti)
  21. It is the fool's sheep that break loose twice. (Ashanti)
  22. One cannot both feast and become rich. (Ashanti)
  23. One falsehood spoils a thousand truths. (Ashanti)
  24. The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people. (Ashanti)
  25. There is no medicine to cure hatred. (Ashanti)
  26. What is bad luck for one man is good luck for another. (Ashanti)
  27. When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful. (Ashanti)
  28. When the fool is told a proverb, its meaning has to be explained to him. (Ashanti)
  29. It is the fool whose own tomatoes are sold to him. (Akan)
  30. Because friendship is pleasant, we partake of our friend's entertainment; not because we have not enough to eat in our own house. (Yoruba )
  31. Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. (Kikuyu)
  32. If you want sex while traveling, travel with your wife. (Minyanka)
  33. The way you bring up a child is the way it grows up. (Swahili)
  34. One who damages the character of another damages his own. (Yoruba)
  35. He who loves money must labor. (Mauritania)
  36. Poverty is slavery. (Somalia)
  37. Knowledge is better than riches. (Cameroon)
  38. The rich are always complaining. (Zululand)


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