African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


NAMIBIA [Capital City: Windhoek]

Namibia was a former Spanish territory, which waged a protracted liberation war under Sam Nujoma and his South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) until it attained independence less than 20 years ago.


1. A man who has once been tossed by a buffalo, when he sees a black ox, thinks it’s another buffalo.

2. A hyena cannot smell its own stench.

3. Only a medicine man gets rich by sleeping.

4. A little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing.

5. Indecision is like the stepchild: if he doesn’t wash his hands, he is called dirty; if he does, he is wasting the water.

6. The end of an ox is beef; and the end of a lie is grief.

7. Don’t take another mouthful before you have swallowed what is already in your mouth.

8. Before eating, open your mouth.

9. Not all the flowers of a tree produce fruit.

10. If you watch your pot when it is on the fire, your food will not burn.

1. We have left our pots unwatched, and our food now burns.

12. He who begins a conversation does not foresee the end.

13. He who does not mend his clothes will soon have none.

14. He who rides the horse of greed at a gallop will pull it up at the door of shame.

15. When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby.

16. It is the wandering dog that finds the old bone.

17. Poverty is slavery.

18. Where I make a living, there is my home.

19. Do not leave your host’s house, throwing mud in his well.

20. One does not cross a river without getting wet.

21. Darkness conceals the hippopotamus.

22. The rich are always complaining.

23. A termite can do nothing to a stone save lick it.

24. The hen with baby chicks doesn’t swallow the worm.

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

26. He who hunts two rats at the same time catches none.

27. He who is bitten by a snake fears a lizard.

28. A roaring lion kills no game.

29. The hunter in pursuit of an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds.

30. Even the mightiest eagle comes down to the tree tops to rest.

31. What is in the stomach carries what is in the head.

32. If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips.

33. The wind does not break a tree that bends.

34. The miserly man is like a fattened ox: he will give of his fat only when he has been deprived of his life.

35. A stranger has big eyes but sees nothing.

36. The day the monkey is destined to die, all the trees get slippery.

37. The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.

38. He who runs after good fortune runs away from peace.

39. What you cannot see during the day, you will not see at night.

40. A bird that flies from the ground onto an anthill does not know that it is still on the ground.

41. The earth is a beehive; we all enter by the same door but live in different cells.

42. Fire and gunpowder do not sleep together.

43. A bird will always use another bird’s feathers to feather its own nest.

44. Man is the head of the family, woman the neck that turns the head.

45. Where the rooster crows there is a village.

46. A bird does not forget where it lays its eggs.

47. A hunter who has only one arrow does not shoot with careless aim.

48. A man who is trampled to death by an elephant is a man who is blind and deaf.

49. The fish that can see the water getting shallower cannot be stranded.

50. If you see wrong-doing or evil and say nothing against it, you become its victim.


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


Image by Derek Keats via Flickr



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: