African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


MALAWI [Capital City: Lilongwe]

Any mention of Malawi brings to mind the long reign of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who became the country’s President when Britain lost control over this territory in the Rift Valley Region. The persistent struggle of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy has created conditions for relative political stability in this country.


1. One little arrow does not kill a serpent.

2. Do not be like the mosquito that bites the owner of the house.
[Interpretation: You don’t have to be ungrateful to your benefactor. It is just like not trying to bite (or not indeed biting) the finger that feeds you. How will you survive?]

3. Wisdom is like mushrooms that come after you have finished eating – too late!

4. The lash that drives the herd does not kill them.

5. An egg never sits on a hen.

6. The one whom God clothes will not go naked .

There is no difference between mother and baby snakes, they are equally poisonous.

7. We are born from the womb of our mother; we are buried in the womb of the earth.

8. One must come out of one’s house to begin learning.

9. One does not make a shield in the battlefield.

10. The way a donkey expresses gratitude is by giving someone a bunch of kicks.

11. The wrong-headed fool, who refuses counsel, will come to grief.

12. The lead cow (the one in front) gets whipped the most.


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

English: Crafts market in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Image via Wikipedia


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