African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


CHAD [Capital City: N’Djamena]

This country was also colonized by the French and gained independence in 1960. It is famous for its Lake Chad.


1. When the leading animal is lame, the herd fails to get to the pasture.

2. Only when a tree is big and strong can you tether a cow to it.

3. When the village chief himself goes around inviting people to a meeting, know there is something wrong with the system.

4. When the baobab tree has fallen, the goats start climbing it.

5. A leader in the community without a pot belly is a stingy man.

6. If a man wants to grow a long tooth, he should have the lip to cover it.

7. The lion’s power lies in our fear of him.

8. The shepherd of a herd of toads must be very patient with his rod.

9. A tyrant is only a slave turned inside out.

10. Discord between the powerful is a fortune for the poor.

11. Every cock is a town crier in his own dung heap.

12. He who wants to be famous will have many sleepless nights.

13. If you fear something you give it power over you.

14. In its own nest the beetle is king.

15. Those in power never give way and admit defeat; they plot and scheme to regain their lost power and privilege.

16. If the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken, then it must hire the fox as a body-guard.

17. The palm tree that encourages birds to nest in it should not cry over shattered leaves.

18. A cat in its castle has lion’s teeth.

19. To destroy the bones of an elephant, strike them against other elephant bones.

20. Horns which are put on do not stick properly.

21. It takes a long time to unite an entire village hunting group.

22. The jungle is stronger than the elephant.

23. He is like a drum which makes a lot of noise but is hollow inside.

24. The elephant needs noise.

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

26. A cockerel fears the cockerel that removes its feathers.

27. A ruler who is weak puts a load on his head.

28. Arrogance burned the chief’s compound.

29. For lack of criticism, the trunk of the elephant grew very long.

30. He who is destined for power does not have to fight for it.

31. If birds travel without coordination, they beat each other’s wings.

32. If the man in front falls into a hole, do not follow him.

33. If those with horns cannot manage, what about those without them?

34. If you overtake a leader, you break your neck.

35. Mere strength does not denote chieftainship, otherwise the hornbill would be king of the birds.

36. Prefer the leader who comes to you.

37. When the master of the house lacks wisdom, the doctor’s work is useless.

39. When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly.

40. When there is peace in the country, the chief does not carry a shield.

41. When you befriend a chief, remember that he sits on a rope.

42. Where two rivers meet, the waters are never calm.

43. Without a leader, black ants are confused.

44. You cannot climb to the mountain top without crushing some weeds with your feet.

45. A clever bird builds its nest with other birds’ feathers.

46. If two wise men always agree, then there is no need for one of them.

47. The more feathers a chicken has, the bigger it looks and the nearer it approaches its grave.

48. Too many cocks crowing at the same time make the dawn take too long.


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

Streets of N'Djamena.

Image via Wikipedia


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