African proverbs: sayings and idioms

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Collection of African proverbs, sayings and popular sayings in Africa translated into Italian, as testimony to the wisdom of the various peoples present in this varied continent.


African idioms

- The woman God has destined you is better than the one chosen by the eye.

- Ambiguous as the bat, half animal and half bird.


- The path through the forest is long only if you don't love the person who visits you.

- Where the traces of a cat are seen, those of the mouse are not seen.

- If you want to be despised, get married; if you want to be appreciated, die.


- A prudent and prudent visitor opens his eyes, but not his mouth.

- When you see the moon surrounded by a halo, there is a king who travels somewhere in that light.

- Whoever has no fence around his land has no enemies.


- The beautiful girl is not without flaws.

- Don't get rid of the oars until the pirogue is on the shore.

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- Life is a palm branch bent by the winds.

- If someone gives you the white part of the chicken, don't ask for the paw too.

- It is not the hand that gives, but the heart.

- The carp dies where its eggs are found.

- There is no need to show the elephant with your finger.

- Knowing how to swim and ride a horse is good, but knowing yourself is better.

- When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.


- Two fingers are not introduced into a nostril.

- The leopard does not sleep on a dry branch.

- Children are the moon that shines.

- As long as you are fooled, it means that you are alive; when you cry, it means you're dead.

- The enemy of man is his language.

- Lying gives flowers but no fruit.


- Whoever thinks about what people say does not fill their plates.

- We will judge you by following the color of your tracks.

- The calm sea does not make the sailor good.

- The sun and moon are the best lamps.

- Each stream has its source.

- The owl has had ugly eyes since it was in the egg.

- If the knife is well sharpened, you must walk carefully.

- The wealth above the daughter's head does not satisfy anyone: it only satisfies what you find with your hand.

- On the bank of hippos there is neither pirogue, nor oar.

- Those who do not travel do not know the value of men.

- Anyone who does not know one thing knows another.

- It is better to help someone who struggles, and not to starve, because you don't find gratitude in this.


- The sun crosses the boundaries of time and there no evil man's arrow can reach it.

- If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow will come; if you don't wait for tomorrow, tomorrow will come.

- Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like having a laundry bag of wheat in your hands.

- The hen does not sing in front of the rooster.

African sayings

- Even if nobody loves you, you will always find someone willing to cut your hair.

- The path through the forest is long only if you do not love the person you are visiting.

- Shaking the head does not deprive the donkey of the ears.

- When the heart is full of anger, it comes out of the mouth.

- A wise man never knows everything, only stupid people know everything.

- The oasis is made for the body, the desert for the soul.

- In the womb of the mother the baby lacks nothing.

- The sun and moon are the best lamps.


- To love those who do not love you is to love the rain that falls in the forest.

- Who has not suffered, cannot share the sufferings of others.

- Those who go up in the same pirogue, have the same aspirations.

- If you refuse to be straightened when you are green, you will not be straightened when you are dry.

- The remedy for cold is fire; the remedy for sadness is goodness.

- Those who live near water can swim.

- It is never night where people love each other.

- The young man walks faster than the elderly, but the elderly knows the way.

- The dog does not forget the owner.

- You can't avoid suffering, only death can free you.

- Whoever comes first to the source drinks the purest water.

- The works of women are as numerous as the stars in the sky.


- If you can rejoice in the joys of others, you are the most worthy inhabitant of the village.

- Even an elephant needs only one day to die.

- Whoever hits the skin, wounds the flesh.

- The water of the river always flows downwards.

- If you want to keep a secret, entrust it to the passing wind, but not to a woman.

- Even the lion must defend himself against flies.

- Where everything is burned the fire never comes back.

- He who always runs will know fewer and fewer things than he who remains calm and reflects.

- The river wanted to do its own thing and got lost.

- Get going even if you don't like the hour. When you arrive, the hour will still be appreciated.

- When an old man dies, a library is burned.

- If you want to get there first, run alone. If you want to go far, walk together.


- A man is generated, not his heart.

- Kiss the hand you can't cut.

- Only when the lions start writing the story will the hunters stop being heroes.

- What is not done to a demijohn is not done to a water bottle.

- The hyena does not sleep with sheep.

- When one has eaten salty, one can no longer eat without salt.

- A beautiful body can hide a bad heart.

African proverbs

- Even if the elephant has lost weight, he will not dare cross a lianas bridge.

- Why are a lazy man's nails long? To scratch the belly when hungry.

- The individual dies, the family continues.

- The family matures with dialogue.

- You can distance what runs behind you but not what runs inside you.

- A hen on the ground does not sleep hungry.

- The human heart is not a lot where anyone can put their hand.

- Friendship is a road that disappears in the sand if it is never repeated.

- Hold on to a real friend with both hands.

- The ant cannot cross a stream without a bridge.

- Fish is strong only in water.

- Wise men speak simple words.

- The stranger is like a brother you have never met.

- Anyone who wants coal can stand the smoke.

- The miser mice are fatter than he is.

- A dog does not trip twice against the same stone.

- Whoever walks on the dunghill will have to wash their feet.

- The sorcerer dies, but his medicines retain their strength.

- The past lives again every day because it has never passed.

- The human heart is not a lot where anyone can put their hand.

- The butterfly does not count the years, but the moments: this is why its short time is enough for it.

- The squirrel is small, but is not a slave to the elephant.

- One ring on the arm makes no noise.

- Time is like a bird; if you don't take it, fly away.

- Beautiful words are like flowers, beautiful actions like fruits.

- The dog's dreams remain within him.

- The day does not come back.

- To raise a child requires an entire village.

- Soul storms are worse than sandstorms.

- Only the owner can recover the bone from the dog's throat.

- Youth does not leave you empty-handed.

- The opinion of the intelligent is better than the certainty of the ignorant.

- The stranger has big eyes, but does not see what is happening in the village.

- The eye does not eat orange, but knows that it is sweet.

- Mushrooms do not grow under the tree that is not rotten.

- The moon shows the path, but not the dangers of the road.

- In the dark, all cats are leopards.

- Whoever watches two termite mounds returns empty-handed.

- The only benefit of flattery is that, by feeling what we are not, we can educate ourselves on what we should be.

- Unattended bananas belong to everyone.

✔ Top African Proverbs & Sayings (March 2021)


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