African Proverbs in African Literature

A Critical Resourcebase


SENEGAL [Capital City: Dakar]

Senegal was one of the favored French possessions in West Africa. Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of the architects of the political ideology of “Negritude,” ruled Senegal for decades after independence from France in 1960 before abdicating for Abdou Diof to take over.

Eventually, Abdulai Wade defeated Diouf in elections to give Senegal a new dose of political administration. The rebel insurgency in the Casamance Region is still a source of concern.


1. Spilled water is better than a broken jar.

2. Nobody tells all he knows.

3. The cow steps on the calf but she does not hate it.

4. It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion.

5. Three kinds of people die poor: those who divorce, those who incur debts, and those who move around too much.

6. The heart is not a knee that can be bent.

7. If you speak, speak to him who understands you.

8. He may say that he loves you. Wait and see what he does for you!

9. The opportunity that God sends does not wake up him who is asleep.

10. To spend the night in anger is better than to spend it in repentance.

11. When you know who his friend is, you know who he is.

12. The truth is like gold; keep it locked up and you will find it exactly as you first put it away.

13. A healthy ear can stand hearing sick words.

14. If a centipede loses a leg, it does not prevent him from walking.

15. If your son laughs when you scold him, you ought to cry, for you have lost him; if he cries, you may laugh, for you have a worthy heir.

16. If a little tree grows in the shade of a larger tree, it will die small.

17. An intelligent enemy is better than a stupid friend.

18. Don’t try to make someone hate the person he loves, for he will still go on loving, but he will hate you.

19. It is better to be loved than feared.


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


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