African Proverbs Meanings

By Savannah Leonard

"If a child washes his hands he can eat with kings"

By this proverb I look at it as saying that you should clean your past and make way for better things in the future. A modern day quote that is similar to this proverb would be: " Sometimes the people with the worst past, creates the best future." No matter how bad your past is you can clean it up and start off fresh with the future.

"A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing"

Hearing this proverb immediately makes me think everything happens for a reason. There is a reason why things go the way they go, or why people do the things they do. Everything has a reason. This is kind of similar to this quote: "There's always a reason behind everything that has happened... It changes you into better a person."

"The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did"

"Pride is a personal commitment. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity." This quote that the famous English Poet William Blake said is very similar to the African proverb. I get from the both of these that even if no one recognizes your personal achievement, be proud of it anyway.  

"Those whose palm-kernels are cracked for him by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble"

If you are blessed with luck, do not forget to be humble. Do not criticize those who are not blessed; my own definition. It reminds me of the more modern day quote: "Don't ever forget where you came from. Always stay humble and pay it forward whenever the opportunity presents itself."

"When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth"

This is saying that children learn from their parents. Parents are practically the role models of their children until they become older. Similar to this saying "Becoming a dad means you have to be a role model for your son and be someone he can look up to."