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BBC’s Best African Proverbs of 2013


As far as we at African Language Solutions know, every language in the world makes use of proverbs. These are often very creative and interesting sayings, so it is a shame we are usually unaware of the proverbs used in foreign languages.

However, in 2013, the BBC asked their readers to send them their favourite proverb from African languages, and their request was granted by many! This was a reason for the BBC to publish a list of the best African proverbs from every month of 2013.

From this list, we picked the best ones!

When looking at the list, we felt African proverbs that were stated could more or less be divided into two categories: proverbs that were so funny that we just had to share them with you and proverbs that we believe they would be a great addition to the English language as they are simply very, very true.

Here is our top five in both categories:

Funny proverbs:

1.    A person who sells eggs should not start a fight in the market – Zambia
2.    Don’t set out on a journey using someone else’s donkey – Somalia
3.    The day the monkey is destined to die all the trees get slippery – Kenya
4.    No matter how good you are to a goat it will still eat your yam – Nigeria
5.    Do not beat a drum with an axe – Ghana

True proverbs:

1.    Leading a race does not mean that you will win it – Zambia
2.    The hands that make mistakes belong to those who work – Lesotho
3.    The eyes do not carry the load but they know what the head can carry – The Gambia
4.    Those who want rain must also accept the mud – Malawi and Ghana
5.    One cannot stop sleeping because of a fear of bad dreams – Ethiopia

Do you have any funny or accurate proverbs in your own language your own language?  Share them with us!

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