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Proverbs, Sayings, Symbols and Storytelling


Proverbs, sayings, symbols and storytelling influenced the African people and their communities therefore affected the Artists living within these communities.

Proverbs can be described as traditional saying in common use, well known wise saying, byword, and adage.

Proverbs was and is still in common use in Africa. The were used to give discussions and communications directive. They gave in depth meaning to words.  Also, during decision making they can be used to give authority and encouragement.

There are similarities in proverbs across the African continent and some are not dissimilar to wise say around the world.

When a lizard falls from great heights it nods its head to praise itself (Nigeria)

 (It can be interpreted to mean, praise yourself for your good deed).

When an old man reaches the zenith of his height a young man grows to meet him.

He who wants to fly must first learn to stand. (Nigeria)

Tolerance cannot be considered a weakness. (Ethiopia)

An antelope does not wear the shoes of an elephant. (Ghana)

One finger alone cannot carry a load. (Sierra-Leone)

A person who uses a sieve to collect rainwater is deceiving himself. (Nigeria)

It is he who begs for something that has the longer hand. (Nigeria)

If you do not cry out, you will die unheard. (Swaziland)

We want to share our collection with you and update them regularly. Please send us some proverbs to share. They do not have to be only African, but we will appreciate if you can tell us which country it is from if you have the information and suggested interpretation.

 Write up by Edion (Elder) Chief Mrs Josephine Oboh-Macleod

The Adonor of Emu Kingdom, Ishan, Edo State, Nigeria.

The Atayese of Ikateland, Elegusi, Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Edion of Akhiophen, Emu Kingdom, Ishan, Edo State, Nigeria.