Proverbs are the distilled genius of cultures. They identify and dignify a culture, bringing life into wisdom and wisdom into life. The purpose of African proverbs, just like any others, is to give people a sense of what’s right and wrong and teach them how to behave in a society. Proverbs have many uses in African societies. They may express an eternal truth. They may be a warning against foolish acts or a guide to good conduct. They may also bring special meaning to certain situations and may even solve particular problems. All of them share common ground because they are here to teach us the same values and to help us have judgment. Even though some proverbs might seem as though they have absolutely nothing in common, in the end, they are all trying to achieve the aforementioned purpose. Both the “individual psychology” and the “community” code of conduct talk about how individuals or groups should act toward each other are expressed in proverbs. African proverbs express the wisdom of the African people and are a key to the understanding ways of life in the past and in the present.
There is strength in unity, but weakness in division.
Explanation: Unity is strength, division is weakness.
If you borrow a man’s legs, you will go where he directs you.
Explanation: If one is too heavily indebted to someone, one will lose one’s independence.
Collective Work and Responsibility
A bundle cannot be fastened with one hand.
Explanation: No person is completely self-sufficient. We have need of each other.
A bird builds with the feathers of others.
Explanation: No-one can be totally self-sufficient.
The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.
Explanation: The destruction of the community nation starts in home. Therefore, develop strong and productive families.
To stumble is not to fall, but to go forward faster.
Explanation: Mistakes are a part of the learning and creative process. If you learned from your mistakes, you will achieve at a faster pace.
Hope is the pillar of the world.
Explanation: Hope is a stronghold in a world of fluctuating circumstances.