African Quotes: 108 Popular African Sayings that Will Get You Thinking

Africa is known to have a very rich culture and part of it can easily be seen in African quotes. Some of the African quotes which are usually regarded to as the sayings of the wise have been around for more than 500 years when they were first coined by the wise ones and the heroes among our fathers. Many more are still being said by some of our present day influential figures which includes the likes of Nelson Mandela.

African quotes have so many uses in African culture and beyond. From admonishment to portraying excellent communication skills, these African sayings of the wise come in handy and it pays to have a few of them right up your sleeve as it serves as a double-edged sword whose purpose is to drive your thoughts and words right through the minds of the least understanding souls. Answers Africa brings you some of the famous African sayings that will leave you inspired.


1. “I am an African, not because I was born in Africa but because Africa is born in me” – Kwame Nkrumah

2. Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living.

3. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

4. “I am a Negro: Black as the night is black, Black like the depths of my Africa.” – Langston Hughes, Negro

5. “A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself.”- Chinua Achebe.

6. When the elderly ones in a house travel, the younger ones quickly grow in experience.

7. Patience can cook a stone.

8. “You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.”- Steven Biko.

9. “Half education is more dangerous than no education” – Chris Ukaobasi

10. He who loves the vase loves also what is inside.

11. One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom.

12. If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.

13. “Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”- Ibn Battuta.

14. When the cock crows, it signals a new day… Good Morning.

15. Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African quote

16. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

17. Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.

18. “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” – African quote

19. When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate.

20. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” – Nelson Mandela

21. Marriage is like a groundnut; you have to crack it to see what is inside.

22. “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness”- Marcus Garvey.

23. Only the tortoise knows what is hidden in its shell

24. “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.” – Thomas Sankara

25. You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down.

26. To overfill the pot is to break it.

27. The sheep with a strong master sleeps with his tail outside the house.

28. The falling of dry leaves on top of a tree is a warning to other leaves on the tree…So be careful, never celebrate other people downfall.

29. Nobody is born wise. ~ African quote

30. “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work, then every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” – George Monbiot

31. “When the heart overflows, it comes out through the mouth.” ~ Ethiopian quote

32. To run is not necessarily to arrive.

33. “Power concedes nothing without a demand… It never did and it never will.” –Frederick Douglass

34. “Hold a true friend with both of your hands.” – Nigerian Quote

35. “For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” – Maya Angelou

36. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”- Desmond Tutu

37. A goat is never pronounced innocent if the judge is a leopard.

38. A man does not wander far from where his corn is roasting.

39. “Pretend you are dead and you will see who really loves you”. – African quote

40. Home affairs are not talked about on the public square.

41. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”. – Muhammad Ali

42. There is no better mirror than an old friend.

43. If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom.

44. “It always seems impossible until its done.” – Nelson Mandela

45. “It is much easier to show compassion to animals.They are never wicked.”- Haile Selassie.

46. A fool and water will go the way they are diverted.

47. Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper.

48. The remedy against bad times is to have patience with them.

49. Do not tell the man who is carrying you that he stinks.

50. Ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them.

51. Do not try to fight a lion if you are not one yourself.

52. A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place.

53. A good thing sells itself, a bad one advertises itself.

54. Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

55. To have a good enemy, choose a friend: he knows where to strike.

56. Everybody has been young before, but not everybody has been old before.

57. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better.

58. The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.

59. It is better to be loved than feared.

60. He who is carried on another’s back does not appreciate how far off the town is.

61. Patience puts a crown on the head.

62. Whether the knife falls on the melon or the melon on the knife, the melon suffers.

63. Wisdom does not come overnight.

64. If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.

65. The fool speaks, the wise man listens.

66. Quarrels end, but words once spoken never die.

67. He who earns calamity, eats it with his family.

68. It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man.

69. Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.

70. To get lost is to learn the way.

71. “Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.”- Wole Soyinka

72. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb” – Nelson Mandela

73. When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it.

74. Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.

75. By going and coming a bird weaves its nest.

76. “If we knew the meaning to everything that is happening to us, then there would be no meaning.” – Idi Amin

77. Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.

78. One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”- Chinua Achebe

79. You do not cut down the green trees when the dried ones are standing erect.

80. What the family talks about in the evening, the child will talk about in the morning.

81. Love never gets lost it’s only kept.

82. If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is.

83. The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth.

84. When the crocodile smiles, be extra careful.

85. The lion that kills is the one that does not roar.

86. “Rich man’s dog gets more in way of medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man’s wealth is built.”- Samora Machel.

87. No matter how acrobatic a masquerade may be, he trails behind the monkey.

88. The eye crosses the river before the body.

89. When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby.

90. A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries.

91. A single bracelet does not jingle.

92. The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat.

93. Brothers love each other when they are equally rich.

94. If your mother-in-law does not know how to sit properly, you should know how to watch properly.

95. If we stand tall it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.

96. “To be impartial…is indeed to have taken sides already…with the status quo.” – Desmond Tutu.

97. No matter how d wild howls, d mountain cannot bow to it.

98. If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.

99. If the dynamic display of power & strength of a Lion means nothing to you, then call cat to do the same in front of Lion.

100. By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed.

101. However hot the sun, it will never dry the sea.

102. If you close your eyes while cutting a tree, you are likely to cut human being with it.

103. “It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die.” – Onkgopotse Tiro

104. “We’re a sentimental people. We like a few kind words better than millions of dollars given in a humiliating way.”- Gamal Abdel Nasser.

105. If your mother-in-law does not know how to sit properly, you should know how to watch properly.

106. It is the child that died in the middle of the night that causes mammoth crowd in front of his mothers house.

107. “Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.”- Kwame Nkrumah.

108. If you sleep because you don’t want to die, you will die because you don’t sleep.

Emeka Chigozie
Emeka Chigozie
Emeka has a keen interest in tech, entertainment, and politics. He likes to stay up to date with global news when he is not thinking about future trends in tech.


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