Africa proverbs reflection thoughts virtues

African Proverb: On ‘Disguising’ Lizards

Igbo: Ngwere nile makpu àfọ n’ala, mana onweghị onye ma nke àfọ n’asa.

English: When lizards lay on the ground, no one knows those who have a runny stomach.

Origin: This is an Eastern Nigerian proverb. Some fraction of the Igbo nation uses it.

The agama lizard just like their reptilian brethren are quadruplets and cold-blooded, native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are the dominant lizard species in southern Nigeria. The colours differ between species and gender, hence the females are less colourful. These reptiles live in forestlands and rocks. In Nigeria, agama lizards love to colonize abandoned, uncompleted, and even inhabited properties.

Agama lizards are diurnal, active only during the day. Like other reptiles, agama lizards hunt insects and worms, most times snatching their victim opportunistically. Their nature and posture make them look lazy as they can rest for hours of sunbathing.

Meaning: When these lizards gather to sunbathe, the community looks so calm and unperturbed. In this mood, they are so peaceful, that admirers can never imagine they worry about anything in life. Thus, agamas are good at disguising.

Indeed, everybody has one or two problems; it’s only the way one dresses that conceals it. The outward packaging, apparition, and attitude mask the true problem people face. Haven’t you encountered people who smile but deep down are hurt? This is an obvious example of our proverb.


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