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West African Proverbs 1

West African Proverbs Part 1 – Proverbs from around West Africa, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia. Use the page links at the bottom to navigate.

Nigerian Proverbs

  1. It is the head that disturbs the wasp that the wasp stings.
    Community/language of origin: Igbo
    Country: Nigeria
  2. A spider web that gets in the way of an elephant entering the stream will get pulled along.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  3. If there are no cracks in the wall, the lizard won’t be able to get in.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  4. No matter how good you are to a goat it will still eat your yam.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  5. When a child is cutting a tree in the forest, it is the elders who know in what direction it will fall.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  6. No amount of trouble can prevent daybreak.
    Community/language of origin: Ishan/Esan
    Country: Nigeria
  7. If a toad jumps around in the daytime, it is either chasing something or something is chasing it.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  8. He who is patient enough to wait will eat well.
    In original language: A pe ki’o to jeun, kii je ibaje.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country:
    Nigeria
  9. Whoever thinks the moon is in the wrong location should go there and place it the right place.
    Community/language of origin: Hausa
    Country: Nigeria
  10. A woman is never old when it comes to the dance she knows.
    Community/language of origin: Igbo
    Country: Nigeria
  11. The frown on the face of the goat will not stop it from being taken to the market.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  12. A child only goes to sleep after eating what kept it awake.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  13. The moon moves slowly but by daybreak it has crossed the sky.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  14. Give a stammerer enough time and he will pronounce his father’s name.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  15. One who throws away the seed pod does not realize that he has thrown away a basket of vegetables.
    Community/language of origin: Igbo
    Country: Nigeria
  16. Those who die as the result of their folly are many; those who die as the result of their wisdom are few.
    Community/language of origin: Ogun state
    Country: Nigeria
  17. One does not learn how to use the left hand in old age.
    Community/language of origin: Igbo
    Country: Nigeria
  18. However far a stream flows, it never forgets its origin.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  19. A good dog never gets a good bone.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  20. If a lizard was good to eat you would never find him under the tub.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  21. It is the old pot that makes the good soup.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  22. Kola nuts last longer in the mouths of those who value them.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Ghana / Nigeria
  23. A wicked elder sows suffering for his children.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  24. If a beard where to signify wisdom, a he goat would be a genius.
    Community/language of origin: Jos
    Country: Nigeria
  25. Do not befriend a goat if your cover cloth is made from plantain leaves.
    Community/language of origin: Enugu
    Country: Nigeria
  26. Only a madman would go to sleep with his roof on fire.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  27. Only a goat that is tired of life, invites a lion to dinner.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  28. When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their fathers estate.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  29. Those who live near a river bank have more than enough water to wash their hands.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  30. A river that forgets its source will run dry.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  31. If Friday is going to be sweet, you will know by Thursday.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  32. Secrets are like sharp tools, they must be kept away from children and fools.
    Community/language of origin: Unknown
    Country: Nigeria
  33. If you see a man in a gown eating with a man in rags, the food belongs to the latter.
    Community/language of origin: Fulani
    Country: Nigeria
  34. An elder who wears a string of corn around his waist makes himself a playmate of angry chickens.
    Community/language of origin: Yoruba
    Country: Nigeria
  35. Don’t expect to find a healthy tooth in a rotten mouth.
    Community/language of origin: unknown
    Country: Nigeria
    Source: BBC Africa
  36. When the ear hears, the body is safe.
    Community/language of origin: Hausa
    Country: Nigeria

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