African Proverbs: Love & Friendship

Words in Africa have weight, there is strength in them:”They create and give you life”. Some words are as solid as the yam (roots) and as sweet as kola (nuts), especially those spoken by the ancestors, who have handed them down to their descendants, to eat. To make them tastier, they have flavoured them with the oil of proverbs. The proverbs are like “the oil with which we eat the words” (lgbo-Nigeria). Nothing reveals a people’s spirit more than their proverbs. We look at “Love & Friendship” in African proverbs.

Where love is, night will never fall (Rundi-Burundi).

Love is like a serious illness (Mongo-DR.Congo): very difficult to recover.

Love consequences are far from the eyes but near the heart (Popo-Togo).

Love is at the base of many things: Love generates praises, hate, and gossip (Mongo-DR Congo).

At times, it ought not to be encouraged: To put out the fire of the heart, it is advisable to prevent it (Bemba-Zambia)

The heart is like a goat, it must be tied up (Sotho-Lesotho).

How is it born? Often from very simple things: Love and hatred are born from the beer (Rundi-Burundi).

Love is the mainspring of extraordinary things: You cannot advise a man in love with a woman (Maasai-Tanzania)

When the heart goes too hot, the brains ro. Love cuts distances: There are no thorns on the road that leads to your beloved (Douala-Cameroon).

It is a short way in the forest, if you love the people you are going to visit (Mongo-DR.Congo).

Love is a precious thing and rare. That can lead to bitter considerations: Those who loved are dead, only the quarrelsome remain. (Mongo-DR.Congo).

If you love, you will spit out liver and bile (Malagasy-Madagascar).

Love unites people: The people sailing in the same boat share the goal (Wolof-Senegal).

Love demands more than just words (Malagasy-Madagascar)

Sacrifice is the proof of love (Ewé-Togo)

When there is no jealousy, five men can sleep on a hare skin (Rundi-Burundi)

When people love each other, do not hide their nakedness (Mongo-DR.Congo): there are no secrets.

Love may come to an end: Hot water does not remain hot for ever (Tonga-Zambia).

I love you, but not more than I love myself (Maasai-Tanzania).

Love asks to make up for any harm done: If you have hit your brother, ask him where you hurt him (Samburu-Kenya).

A track on sand

If you have no friends, you are really poor (Somali-Somalia).

Friendship is spontaneous: Friendship is like mushrooms, you cannot force them (Luganda-Uganda).

Friendship is above every other human sentiment: A good company is better than a good meal (Luo-Kenya).

A friend would do the impossible: A real friend has tears for you, even if his eyes are lifeless (Rundi-Burundi).

Friendship is courteous; Don ‘t meet a friend without greeting him (Samburu-Kenya).

True friends must meet: To say “please, remember me to him”, is not the same as meeting him (Rundi-Burundi)

Your feet will make you brothers (Ewé-Togo).

Ties grow stronger when seeing each other: Friendship is like a track on the sand; it vanishes if not continuously re-done (Douala-Cameroon).

Friendship is easier between people much alike: Rarely a weak person associates with a strong one (Luo-Kenya)

Rats and snakes do not agree (Ambede-Gabon)

How do we tell a true friend from a false one? Open your eyes! If you don ‘t choose your friends with care, you may be in for a big disappointment (Ewé-Togo), in fact It may happen that the friend you cherish most, will make you sink (Logbara-Uganda)

We must lean to choose our friends: A devil you know is better than an angel you don ‘t know (Tigrigna-Eritrea);

Pretend to be dead and see who will cry for you (Mongo-DR.Congo)

A friend is known in misfortune (Yoruba-Nigeria)

Where food is free, many will come (Yoruba-Nigeria); Many friends may empty your pockets (Kikuyu-Kenya)

If you can, make some powerful friend: If you walk with an elephant, the dew will not bother you (Baoule-Cameroon)

To kill a friend is easy, but to find another is a lot more difficult (Malinke-Mali)

A sincere enemy is better than a false friend (Bambara-Mali)

A friendship through the stomach will never die (Mongo-DR.Congo), meaning that if you feed a hungry person, that person will never forget.

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