African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


CAMEROON [Capital City: Yaounde]

This country was formerly colonized by the French, although its northern half was influenced by the British, thus giving it two national languages (English and French).


1. If you do not step on the dog’s tail, he will not bite you.
[Interpretation: Whenever you do what is wrong, you must prepare for the consequences. This proverb is used in instances where someone invites trouble to himself or herself by disturbing the peace of others or by going beyond bounds.]

2. When the vine entwines your roof, it is time to cut it down.

3. He who asks questions cannot avoid the answers.

4. The flood takes him in, and the ebb takes him out.

5. She is like a road – pretty but crooked.

6. The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water.

7. The cricket cries, the year changes.

8. Thought breaks the heart.

9. Knowledge is better than riches.

10. Rain does not fall on one roof alone.
[Interpretation: It is important for you to remember that the consequences of your act will not affect you alone. If you do anything that brings good fortune, it will be shared by the entire community. In the same sense, if you bring down a misfortune, it will affect everybody in your community. This proverb indicates that you are not alone and shouldn’t do things as if no one else shares any attributes with you. It seeks to remind people of the need to see things beyond their noses so as not to be overbearing.]

11. An elephant will reach to the roof of the house.

12. A man’s wealth may be superior to him.

13. The tears of the orphan run inside.
[Interpretation: This proverb discloses what befalls an orphan or any helpless person who faces misfortune. Whenever the destitute faces any problem, no one comes forth to help him or her. It is difficult for such a person to come out of the desperate situation unscathed. Thus, whether he or she cries or not, it makes no difference because there will be no one to sympathize with him/her. Instead of becoming demonstrative, the destitute must learn to control his/her emotions because it will be pointless to cry out, knowing very well that there is no helper.]

14. Even if thin, the elephant still remains the king of the forest.

15. If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.

16. A chattering bird builds no nest.

17. An envious person requires no reason to practice envy.

18. He who throws a stone in the market will hit his relative.

19. One takes care of one’s own: when a bachelor roasts yam, he shares it with his sheep.

20. Whoever sees mucus in the nose of the king is the one who cleans it.

21. No sun sets without its histories.

22. Everybody loves a fool, but nobody wants him for a son.

23. A fool may chance to put something into a wise man’s head.

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

25. He who is born a fool is never cured.

26. When the big tree falls, the goat eats its leaves.

29. When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

30. Great events may stem from words of no importance.


The following links will take you to sources that have some important information on Africa:

English: Carriers at the train station in Yaou...

Image via Wikipedia


3 thoughts on “Cameroon

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  2. One of my favorite Cameroonian proverbs (Bamileke-Medumba): “If you see a mouse and do not kill it, tomorrow your house will be overrun.” (If you notice a problem in its early stages and don’t remedy it, it will become too big to fix.)

  3. おしゃれ 時計 メンズ 二つ折り財布 人気

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