Terra Kulture – 10 Original African Nigerian Proverbs

by | Jul 12, 2021 | 0 comments

Terra Kulture Presents 10 Original African Nigerian Proverbs – Words of Wisdom

Proverbs are a huge part of the African culture. And Nigeria as the giant of Africa takes utmost pride in its words of wisdom. These proverbs are witty, funny, and sometimes, may sound offensive. But at the end of the day, they’re wise words that pass meaningful messages to those who can decipher them.

There are about 2,000 languages spoken in Africa and over 500 spoken in Nigeria, and the fact is that most of the proverbs were initially spoken in one local language or the other. But we have translated a lot of them to English for ease of understanding. Here are some African/Nigerian proverbs and their meanings.

1. When the music changes, the dance also changes.

Meaning: With old age comes wisdom. So when an elder gives advice, they speak from experience and wisdom even though a youngling may not understand.

2. What an elder sees while sitting down, a youngling can never see even though he climbs the tallest tree

Meaning:When you find yourself in different situations, know how to adjust accordingly.

3. A lion will not give birth to a goat

Meaning: You only produce/beget your own kind.

3. A lion will not give birth to a goat

Meaning: You only produce/beget your own kind.

4. The Stubborn fly will follow the corpse to the grave

Meaning: He who does not listen to reasonable advice will find themselves in treacherous situations that they might be unable to get out of.

5. Even if a goat frowns its face, someone will buy it at the market.

Meaning: A particular condition does not determine one’s success. A person who seems like they won’t succeed has all it takes to achieve success at any given time.

6. The same sun that hardens clay, melts clay

Meaning: The same factor that causes hardship or suffering is capable of bringing ease. It is all a matter of determination and perception.

7. No matter how hot one’s anger is, it cannot cook beans

Meaning: It does not matter how angry you may seem to be at the present. With time, that hot anger will cool down. So forgive when you can because there is no use being angry, especially for a long time.

8. He who sleeps with an itchy anus will wake up with their hands smelling

Meaning: The dirty things you do in private will one day come out in the open. This proverb advocates for right living because whatever wrong a person commits, someday soon, they will be exposed.

9. Only God can chase flies from a tail-less cow

Meaning: Those who have no helpers, caretakers, or aids, are only helped by God.

10. He who has no helpers must be sensible

Meaning: A person who does not have any type of backing must rely on wisdom. It is wisdom that will help them not to act the same way as those that have helpers. Because when push comes to shove, the privileged will be rescued and the helpless will be abandoned.


Nigeria and Africa as a whole are blessed with a rich culture, and proverbs are one of the manifestations of that richness. Not only are they pleasant to the ears, but offer age-long wisdom. With a simple sentence, one can learn several life lessons that will stick with them for a lifetime.


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