11+ African Proverbs About Life to Liveby (with Meaning)

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We all have gone through that stage where we have felt overwhelmed with our lives. To help you with this, we have come up with African proverbs about life which will help you move ahead in life with a lot of motivation. These proverbs are not just short sayings but rather profound guidance towards a better living. They will be of great help in your learning, especially if you are an English language enthusiast. Read this blog to understand some of the best African proverbs about life and how they can be implemented in your life. 

Must Read: 100+ Common Proverbs with Meaning and Examples

What are African Proverbs?

African proverbs are traditional sayings that have been passed down orally through generations within various African cultures. In short, they are words of wisdom and morals which offer guidance to the reader. They are not just phrases but carry the collective wisdom and experience of the community and their way of living.

5+ Famous African Proverbs about Life with Meanings

By now, you must be aware that proverbs are short, well-known sayings that have been passed down from generation to generation. They are rich in wisdom and cultural insights. For instance, go through some of the famous African proverbs about life along with their meanings in the table below.

African ProverbsEnglish Meaning
One tree cannot be a forestIt emphasises the importance of community, unity, and collaboration. It suggests that individual efforts, no matter how significant, are not sufficient on their own to achieve a larger goal.
Knowledge is a gardenThis proverb is a metaphorical way of expressing the idea that knowledge, like a garden, requires cultivation and nurturing to grow and flourish. 
Wisdom is like a baobab treeThis is a common saying in the African culture. It emphasizes the enduring and expansive nature of wisdom, likening it to the baobab tree, which is known for its massive size, longevity, and resilience. 
A strong disease needs strong medicineIt suggests that when faced with significant challenges or obstacles, it’s essential to employ powerful solutions or efforts to overcome them. 
Better little than too littleIt implies that having a small amount of something is preferable to having an excess that one cannot handle effectively. 
Teeth do not see povertyIs an African saying of the idea that regardless of one’s financial situation or social status, everyone can smile. 

7+ Best African Proverbs About Life You Must Know

Now, that you have a fair idea of some of the famous African proverbs about life which will help you transform your life for the greater good. 

Only a Fool Tests the Depth of a River with No Feet

This African proverb essentially warns against reckless behaviour or making decisions without adequate preparation or understanding. It suggests that only a fool would attempt to gauge the depth of a river without first ensuring their safety, such as by testing it with their feet. 

Only a fool tests the depth of a river with no feet

Knowledge is a Garden. If it isn’t Cultivated, You can’t Harvest it

This African proverb beautifully illustrates the importance of nurturing knowledge and continuous learning. Just like a garden requires care, attention, and cultivation to yield a fruitful harvest, knowledge also needs to be cultivated through education, exploration, and practice. 

Knowledge is a garden if it is not cultivated you cannot harvest it

Read More: Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining Meaning & Examples

Do not Look Where You Feel. Look Where You Slipped

This proverb is attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, though there isn’t concrete evidence that he said it. It implies instead of focusing solely on the immediate emotions or consequences of a mistake or failure, it advises looking back to the point where the error occurred.

No Shortcuts Exist to the Top of a Palm Tree

It suggests that success or achievement requires hard work, patience, and perseverance. Just like one cannot easily climb a palm tree without effort, there are no quick or easy paths to reaching one’s goals or aspirations.

Tomorrow Belongs to People Who Prepare for It Today

It means that those who take proactive steps and make necessary preparations today are more likely to be successful or have a better tomorrow.  It encourages foresight, strategic thinking, and disciplined action as key ingredients for achieving long-term success and fulfilment.

African proverbs on life

If You Think You’re too Small to Make a Difference, Try Spending the Night with a Mosquito

This proverb implies the power of persistence and determination, regardless of one’s size or perceived influence. We all know that mosquitoes are tiny creatures, but their presence can have a significant impact, causing irritation and discomfort.

When an Old Man Dies, a Library is Burned with Him

This is a powerful African proverb that emphasises the value of knowledge and wisdom accumulated by elders. It suggests that with the passing of an elderly person, a vast amount of knowledge, experience, and wisdom is lost—comparable to a library burning down, where countless books and valuable information are destroyed. 

African proverbs on life
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We hope this blog has provided you with all the necessary information on “African proverbs about life.” To advance your grammar knowledge and read more informative blogs, check out our Learn English page and don’t forget to follow Leverage Edu.

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