54 African Proverbs as collected by Carter G. Woodson

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“Not the greatest Master can go even one step for his disciple; in himself he must experience each stage of developing consciousness. Therefore he will know nothing for which he is not ripe.” — African Proverb

Critical for all of us is to internally develop our consciousness.  African Proverbs assist thusly.  In 1928, Carter G. Woodson wrote, “AFRICAN MYTHS TOGETHER WITH PROVERBS: A SUPPLEMENTARY READER COMPOSED OF FOLK TALES FROM VARIOUS PARTS OF AFRICA.”  In 2009, Dover republished the book.  Though the book has much more than 54 African Proverbs, Chancellor Williams in “The Re-Birth of African Civilization” (1993) republished these

54 African Proverbs
as collected by Carter G. Woodson

  1. “A man with wisdom is better off than a stupid man with any amount of charm and superstition.”
  2. “No man puts new cloth into an old garment.”
  3. “Regret causes an aching which is worse than pain.”
  4. “Remorse weeps tears of blood and gives the echo of what is lost forever.”
  5. “After a foolish action comes remorse.”
  6. “Hold a true friend with both hands.”
  7. “A counsellor who understands proverbs soon sets difficult matters aright.”
  8. “Nobody is twice a dunce.”
  9. “Remember that all flowers of a tree do not bear fruit.”
  10. “It is better to be poor and live long than rich and die young.”
  11. “A man may be born to wealth but wisdom comes only with the length of days.”
  12. “Boasting is not courage. He who boasts much cannot do much.”
  13. “Be courageous if you would be true. Truth and courage go together.”
  14. “Lies, however numerous, will be caught by truth when it rises up. The voice of truth is easily known.”
  15. “The laborer is always in the sun; the landowner is always in the shade.”
  16. “To love a king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better.”
  17. “He who marries a beauty marries trouble.”
  18. “Quick loving a woman means quick not loving a woman”” (a version of ‘marry in haste and repent at leisure.’)
  19. “The hawk, having caught my chicken, will not stay because it knows it has done wrong.” (An innate sense of what is right and what is wrong is not the exclusive possession of man.)
  20. “Hawks go away for the nesting season and fools think they have gone forever.”
  21. “A bird walking nevertheless has wings.” (One may have abilities not evident from what you see.)
  22. “Ordinary people are as common as grass, but good people are dearer to the eye.”
  23. “A matter dealt with gently is sure to prosper, but a matter dealt with violently causes vexation.”
  24. “Anger does nobody good, but patience is the father of kindness. Anger draws arrows from the quiver, but good words draw Kola-nuts from the bad.” (Brings out the best instead of the worst in an individual.)
  25. “A fruitful woman is the enemy of the barren, an an industrious man is the foe of the lazy.”
  26. “Beg for help, and you will meet with refusals; ask for alms and you will meet with misers.”
  27. “Birth does not differ from birth, as the free man was born so was the slave.”
  28. “My badness is more manifest than my goodness (because) you lock up my goodness in the room and you sell my badness in the market place.”
  29. “Know thyself better than he who speaks of thee. Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is worse.”
  30. “Ashes fly back in the face of him that throws them.”
  31. “Faults are like a hill; you stand on your own and you talk about those of other people.”
  32. “There is no medicine for hate; he is a heathen who bears malice.”
  33. “Men despise what they do not understand.”
  34. “He who injures another brings injury upon himself.”
  35. “Hate the evil which a man does, but do not hate the man himself.”
  36. “The evil doer is ever anxious.”
  37. “If you love yourself others will hate you; if you humble yourself others will love you.”
  38. “There is no wealth without children.”
  39. “It is the duty of children to wait on elders, not elders on children.”
  40. “If you love the children of others, you will love your own even better.”
  41. “Bowing to a dwarf will not prevent you from standing erect again.”
  42. “Wherever a man goes to dwell his character goes with him.”
  43. “Every man’s character is good to his own eyes.”
  44. “Charity is the father of sacrifice.”
  45. “He who waits for a chance may wait for a year.”
  46. “He who forgives ends the quarrel.”
  47. “At the bottom of patience lies heaven.”
  48. “Patience is the best of qualities; he who posesses it has all things.”
  49. “If one does good, God will interpret it to him for good.”
  50. “A person prepared before hand is better than after reflection.”
  51. “Lack of knowledge is darker than night.”
  52. “An ignorant man is always a slave.”
  53. “Whoever works without knowledge works uselessly.”
  54. “Today is elder brother of tomorrow, and a heavy dew is the elder brother of the rain.”

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