Top 7 Humorous African Proverbs and Their Meanings

There are so many proverbs of African origin but they are often taken literally. Here are the most humorous and their respective meanings:

  1. It requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum (Ghana).

Some things are not as easy as they look. With hindsight, you may end up regretting your approaches and responses to certain situations. Always think of how your choices will affect you before making them.

  1. A child can play with its mother’s breasts, but not its father’s testicles (Guinea).

This proverb is often used to challenge people to consider the upshot(s) of whatever activity they are about to engage in. Shoplifting, sexual assault, and drug trafficking are examples of extremely dangerous activities one should shun. It is prudent to abide by the law and take part in the noble course of nation-building.

  1. A person who sells eggs should not start a fight in the market (Nigeria)

They say choices have consequences. As such, your negligence might hurt you or the people close to you. To avoid regret and self-reproach, always take into account all the possible consequences of whatever you’re about to do.

  1. If the throat can grant passage to a knife, the anus should wonder how to expel it (Seychelles).

You owe it to yourself to think before you act. Always weigh the outcomes of your actions lest you regret in the end. This proverb has the same meaning as “He who swallows a complete coconut have absolute trust in his anus.”

  1. You cannot run and scratch your anus at the same time (Ethiopia).

Sometimes it is prudent to do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is prone to grave consequences.

  1. However much the buttocks are in a hurry, they will always remain behind (popular African saying).

This proverb is often used to define different people’s statuses and classes in the society. For example, a minor should not try to challenge an old man’s wisdom. Similarly, the sheeple will always remain under aristocrats.

  1. One who plants grapes by the roadside, and one who marries a pretty woman, share the same problem (Ethiopian).

All good things have negatives. The same way many people would crave grapes planted by the roadside, beautiful married women can also be subject to sexual harassment like ogling, catcalling, wolf-whistling, and even rape!

Other Humorous African Sayings

  1. Botswana – A fool and water will go the way they are diverted.
  2. Burkina Faso – Hunger is better than shame.
  3. Burundi – A mother’s behind sins when it sits down.
  4. Cameroon – If the panther knew how much he is feared, he would do much more harm.
  5. Chad – If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a body-guard.
  6. Congo – You are beautiful; but learn to work, for you cannot eat your beauty.

The list is subjective. Can you think of any other?

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