African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase

Archive for the month “January, 2012”


A Collection of African Proverbs by Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, New York

I welcome you to my Web site, which showcases the result of my exploration of African proverbs as a reflection of some socio-cultural issues on Africa. This project discusses the significance of these proverbs to African literature as is evident in the numerous novels and other literary works produced by African intellectuals.

I began thinking of this project when I studied English 351 (Hypertext) in spring 2004 at the Illinois State University.

As envisaged, this project serves as a critical resource base for teachers who teach the works of African writers to non-Africans. Because the proverbs feature in these works of literature, it is important that they be understood within the context of African oral literature as a reflection of the worldviews of Africans in the various countries featured in this project.

I am of the opinion that without an understanding of these proverbs, the literature cannot be fully understood and appreciated in relationship to the socio-cultural, rhetorical, and linguistic attitudes and performances of Africans.

I was motivated by the pervasive presence of these proverbs in the literature produced by African writers, which suggests that proverbs are a significant aspect of what constitutes the mindsets of the people; hence, their use by these authors to reflect those mindsets. In fine, the proverbs encapsulate important aspects of the diverse cultures of their users and need to be understood as such.

To the uninitiated non-African reader, the inability to comprehend upfront the messages conveyed through these proverbs may create major problems and hinder comprehension of the deeper level issues couched in these proverbs. It is, therefore, important that a project of this sort be done for the benefit of such uninformed non-African readers.

These proverbs also reflect a major aspect of communication in Africa, which borders on non-Western rhetorical practices. Thus, these proverbs provide opportunities for comprehending the socio-cultural aspects of communication on the continent.


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