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5 Old African Sayings That Are Forever Relevant

5 Old African Sayings That Are Forever Relevant

Sometimes the oldest advice can be the most helpful. A lot of us turn to elders, our parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and more, in times of need or difficulty. Oftentimes, all it can take is a piece of useful, well-timed advice to help set us back on our path.

These old phrases from around Africa have stood the test of time, and you may even find them useful. Here are 5 old African phrases that still make a lot of sense.

'If the vulture fulfils your desire, the guinea fowl will pass you by' - Hausa people, West Africa

In Hausa "Idan angulu ta bia maka maradi, zabua ta taffi da zanenta"

It might sound cryptic, but this Hausa saying makes a lot of sense. To this day a lot of us use the world vulture in a negative way, often to describe people's behavior. People who are dubbed vultures are considered to be unpleasant, predatory, and mean. The guinea fowl, by contrast, is a meek, flightless bird, a little like a turkey or a pheasant, and belongs to the same family of species.

This phrase is saying if you surround yourself with negative people, positive ones will pass you by. It's a little like 'be careful the company you keep', and it tells us to surround ourselves with the right influences if we aim to level up in life.


'One who tries hard, will profit' - Swahili people, East Africa

In Swahili "Anayejitahidi hufaidi"

This is one proverb everyone can relate to. Whether it's in your personal life, your career, or health, what you put in is what you get out. If you work hard, you'll see the results, if not, well, you'll see the reality. Let's all put in work to get to where we want to be!

'Don't forget the honeybird' - Xhosa people, South Africa

In Xhosa "Ungalibali intaka yobusi"

The honeybird, or honey guide as they are more commonly known, are a family of birds. They get their name from the fact that they seek out beeswax, and in doing so, inadvertently lead us to where bee colonies are. This saying talks about the importance of thanking those who have helped you on your journey. When you get to where you want to be, don't forget the people along the way who helped make your dreams a reality.

'The land where the stones know you is worth more than the land where the people know you' - Berber people, Morocco

This may sound like an odd proverb coming from a nomadic people such as the Berber, but it speaks to something we can all attest to. However you say it, 'home is where the heart is', 'there's no place like home', wherever we wander, wherever we roam, there's usually a compass point showing us where we really feel we belong. This saying reminds us that it's better to have a deep understanding of a place and our link to it, than be somewhere where connections, with people and the place itself, are fleeting.

'The heart is not a knee, it does not bend' - Fulani people, West Africa



This saying comes from the traditionally nomadic and pastorialist Fulani people of West Africa. What are you passionate about? What do you want most? What are your principles? If you hold these ideals steadfast in your being, you will never change or bend them to other people's will.

Do you have any old proverbs you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter. Let's share some pearls of wisdom!

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