African Proverbs

Proverb (Ilu-Igbo) is a phrase expressing a basic truth which maybe applied to common situations. Ilu bu mmanu ndi Igbo ji eri okwu (literally this Igbo sentence translates to proverbs are oil with which the Igbo eat words). It doesn’t suggest that words are eaten but explores the richness and commonality of the usage of proverbs by an average Igbo or African. African proverbs are rich and full of wisdom. Just like the Proverbs recorded in the Holy Book, African proverbs are sources of wit.

1. Igbo Proverb: Agadi nwanyi anaghi aka nka n’egwu o mara agba: (An old woman does not age on her dance steps.)

Meaning: This particular proverb is self explanatory. It means one can never forget what he/she knows how to do best.

2. Igbo Proverb: Anaghi enye oke azu ka ochebe: (You can’t trust a rat with fish)

Meaning: This proverb dwells on the issues of trust. Literally it explains that you can’t trust someone who has a questionable character.

3. Igbo Proverb: Ana ebido ehihie chowa ewu oji: (Literally: Search for the black goat before sun set)

Meaning: We can say that this is a version of the English saying ‘Make hay while the sun shines’.

4. Igbo Proverb: Onye wetara oji wetara ndu (He who brings the Kola, brings life)

Meaning: This is a general saying in Igbo land, when visitors are received and refreshments are presented.

5. Igbo Proverb: Anyuko amiri onu, ogba ufufu (Literally this will be when we urinate together it produces foams but that’s just to say exactly what the phrase meant)

Meaning: With collective effort, substantive success is made. Emphasis is placed on the collectiveness.

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