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Unclassified African Proverbs

African proverbs, whose community of origin has not (yet) been established. … Feel free to suggest or submit more via the forum, which will then be added to the list.

        1. Corn cannot expect justice from a court composed of chickens.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        2. Beware of the naked man who offers you clothes!
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        3. A child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which his mother puts into his palm.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        4. Smooth seas do not make a skillful sailor.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        5. He who who asks questions does not lose his way.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        6. When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        7. A tree that is not taller than you cannot give you a shade.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        8. Looking at a king’s mouth one would never think he sucked his mother’s breast.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        9. An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        10. Only a fool tests the depth of water with both feet.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        11. A borrowed ax does not take long to get broken.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        12. If a blind man threatens to stone you, he must be having one under his foot.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        13. To circumcise an elephant is not the problem. The problem is how to open its legs.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        14. If you eat all your harvest, you will not have seed for tomorrow.
          [In your good times, prepare for bad times and in your bad times, prepare for good times.]
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        15. A big head without big knowledge is a heavy load on the neck.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        16. Even the biggest cock that crows the loudest was once just an egg.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        17. Even a friend cannot rescue you from old age.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Kenya
        18. If a snake bites your neighbor, you yourself are also in danger.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        19. It is not good setting up a trap when the bird to be caught is watching
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        20. He who talks to you about others will talk to others about you.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        21. A dog with a bone in its mouth can’t bite.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        22. A man does not run among thorns for no reason; either he is chasing a snake or a snake is chasing him.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        23. The rope that hangs a monkey, hangs a baboon as well.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        24. An anthill that does not want to be trodden on must not grow edible mushrooms.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        25. He who hides his secrets from his son exposes him to his enemies.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        26. An empty sack cannot stand.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        27. If you ever see a rat laughing at a cat, you know there is a hole nearby.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        28. He who thinks they are too small to make change has never shared a bed with a mosquito.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        29. Whether the cock crows or not, the day will dawn.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        30. The quickest way to find long lost friends is to make a fortune.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        31. When a lion chooses grass over meat at a festival, it’s time to go home.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        32. The hyena chasing two gazelles at the same will go to bed hungry.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        33. Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        34. If you run after two hares you will catch none of them.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        35. Whoever talks unceasingly, talks nonsense.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        36. The whip that was used to flog the first wife into shape is waiting in the corner to flog the second into better shape.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown
        37. Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.
          Community/language of origin: Unknown
          Country: Unknown

Do you have any proverbs you would like to share?

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      • If possible the proverb not only in English but original language as well
      • A short explanation of its meaning
      • Please include the community or tribe where this proverb is from
      • country

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