African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


TANZANIA [Capital City: Dodoma]

At independence from Britain in 1964, Tanzania was led by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere whose version of “African Socialism” (“Ujama na Uhuru” – “Freedom and Justice”) created more problems than the good that it had been imagined to deliver.


1. Do not mend your neighbor’s fence before looking to your own.

2. A sheep cannot bleat in two different places at the same time.

3. Events follow one another like the days of the week.

4. Even the night has ears.

[Interpretation: – This proverb is a warning to people to be wary of what they do or say wherever they may be because “even walls have ears.” If yuou don’t guard your utterances, you may end up swaying what you shouldn’t and suffer for it. You may not kno “who is in the dark,” listening to you.]

5. Everything has an end.

6. We start as fools and become wise through experience.

7. Even flies have ears.

8. Do not make a dress for the baby before the child is born.

9. In the world, all things are two and two.

10. If you refuse the elder’s advice you will walk the whole day.

11. One who bathes willingly with cold water doesn’t feel the cold.


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

1000 Tanzanian shillings note, front, displayi...

Image via Wikipedia



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