32 Wise African Proverbs About Life (with Meaning)

There is a lot of wisdom that is often hidden in age-old proverbs, sayings and maxims passed on from generation to generation. In this article lets have a look at 32 powerful African proverbs on life that are filled with wisdom and teach you some really insightful life lessons. Let’s have a look.

Table of Contents

1. It is not necessary to blow out the other people’s lantern to let yours shine.

It is not necessary to blow out the other people's lantern to let yours shine
Meaning: Do not waste your time and energy by focusing on what other people are doing or accomplishing. Instead make it a point to consciously re-focus your attention on your goals and things that matter to you and you are sure to succeed and reach your highest potential.

2. A lot of people struggle with sleep because sleep requires peace.

Meaning: The secret to sleep is a relaxed mind and body. If your mind is filled with thoughts and your attention is unconsciously focused on these thoughts, then sleep is bound to evade you. So if you ever struggle with sleep, shift your attention from your thoughts into your body. This act of consciously feeling your body will lull you to sleep.

3. What an old man sees from the ground, a boy cannot see even if he stands on top of the mountain.

Meaning: True wisdom comes only with experience and years of self reflection.

4. However long the night, the dawn will break.

Meaning: The very essence of life is change. Things are changing every single moment whether we realize it or not. This is why patience is such a powerful virtue. Good things always come to those who wait.

5. Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.

Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.

Meaning: The only way to change the existing narrative is to put yourself out there and let your story be known.

6. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Meaning: The way to success is through collaboration with likeminded people.

7. When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.

Meaning: When people in power fight to satisfy their own ego, it’s the general population that gets hit the most.

8. A child who’s unloved by his village will burn it down just to feel the warmth.

Meaning: A lack of love from outside leads to a lack of love from within. And a love deficit often manifests itself in hate. Practicing self love is the way to liberate yourself from these negative emotions so you can bring out the good within you instead of the bad.

9. When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

Meaning: When you become conscious of your limiting thoughts and beliefs, other people can no longer impact you negatively. So keep working on understanding yourself ‘cause that’s the secret to liberation.

10. Fire devours the grass, but not the roots.

Meaning: Remember, that you always have the power within to start over and accomplish everything that your heart desires.

11. The one who asks Questions doesn’t lose his way.

The one who asks Questions doesn't lose his way.

Meaning: Always keep your sense of wonder and curiosity alive. Because that’s the only way to grow in life.

12. Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

Meaning: Every small action you do today has the potential to reap huge benefits in the future.

13. The sun does not forget a village just because it is small.

Meaning: We must try to be like the Sun and treat everyone equally and justly.

14. Only a fool tests the depth of water with both feet.

Meaning: Always test out a situation or venture by starting small and knowing the ins and outs before fully investing yourself in it.

15. If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today.

Meaning: Focus on the small things or what needs to be done at this moment and slowly but surely you will be able to achieve big results.

16. A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.

Meaning: It’s the obstacles and failures in your life that lead you to new insights, make you more knowledgeable and skillful.

17. An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet.

Meaning: Do not judge a person from their external appearance. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

18. The forest was shrinking but the trees kept voting for the axe as its handle was made of wood and they thought it was one of them.

Meaning: Become conscious of your limiting beliefs. These beliefs may look like they are yours, but they are just conditioned ideas (that you acquired from your surroundings) that keep you from reaching your truest potential.

19. He who does not know one thing knows another.

He who does not know one thing knows another.

Meaning: Nobody knows everything and nobody is good at everything. If you are good at something, you are bad at something else. So stop worrying about the expertise or knowledge that other people have and instead focus on your own innate strengths.

20. Rain beats the leopard’s skin but it does not wash out the spots.

Meaning: It’s hard to change someone of their core personality.

21. A roaring lion kills no game.

A roaring lion kills no game.
Meaning: Focus your energy not on talking/bragging or trying to impress others but on silently working on your goals. Let the results of your actions speak for themselves.

22. The young bird does not crow until it hears the old ones.

Meaning: Every belief you hold in your mind came from your surroundings (or the people you grew up with). Become conscious of these beliefs so you are in a position to let go of beliefs that do not serve you and hold on to beliefs that do.

23. One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold.

Meaning: Involve yourself a 100 percent to the work at hand and you will not feel the associated negatives but only the positives.

24. Knowledge is like a garden: If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.

Meaning: Keep an open mind and always be open to learning and growing. Do not become rigid in your beliefs.

25. Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.

Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.

Meaning: Learn from your mistakes by introspecting on what made you fail instead of focusing on the failure itself. When you learn from your failures, your failures become the stepping stones to success.

26. If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?

Meaning: Focus your attention on the positives instead of the negatives.

27. An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.

Meaning: Irrespective of your talents, if you hold a lot of limiting beliefs in your mind, you will find it hard to reach your true potential. Instead, when you are driven by uplifting beliefs, you will reach success a lot easily.

28. You can’t fatten a pig on the market day.

Meaning: It’s important to follow a plan to achieve big goals. One should avoid putting off things till the last minute.

29. A lot of people have fancy watches but no time.

A lot of people have fancy watches but no time.

Meaning: Come to the present moment to experience and enjoy the simple joys of life. Fast paced living robs you of these joys which is the very essence of living.

30. Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every drop.

Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every drop.

Meaning: Everything is perception and your perspective changes with every experience. It takes one to know one.

31. Be wary of the naked man that offers you a shirt.

Meaning: Only take advice from someone who has real life experience and knows what they are talking about.

32. Patience is the key that solves all problems.

Meaning: Good things always come to those who wait.

Do you know a quote that needs to be added to this list? Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

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About the Author
Mukesh is the founder of Outofstress.com. He is a writer, author and meditation teacher. Having suffered from anxiety and depression for a good part of his adult life, he used meditation, attention training and self awareness to break free from these limiting mind patterns. You can learn more on his personal blog - ConsciousReset.com
About Outofstress
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