Africa's proverb of the day

A woman and her child in Casamance, Senegal  Photo: Manuel Toledo "A baby on its mother's back does not know the way is long"

Proverbs are an integral part of African culture. Passed on from generation to generation for centuries, they are still in wide use today and are very much part of everyday speech.

Proverbs are used to illustrate ideas, reinforce arguments and deliver messages of inspiration, consolation, celebration and advice.

The great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe once wrote: "Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten."

Use this form to send in your wise words. Under the form you can see some of the proverbs we have published recently.

Your African proverb

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Your proverbs from the last few months:

Tuesday 19 August

Even our tongues and our teeth sometimes clash. A Somali proverb sent by Zakariya Adam Mahat, Cape Town, South Africa

Monday 18 August

Every vessel has its own waves. A Swahili proverb sent by Innocent Munyuku, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Friday 15 August

A cow gave birth to a fire; she wanted to lick it, but it burned; she wanted to leave it, but she could not because it was her own child. Sent by Dawit Hailu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Thursday 14 August

If a dog cannot crack a bone there is no need to give it to a chicken to crack. Sent by Matthew Amoah, Accra, Ghana, and Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Madrid, Spain

Wednesday 13 August

He who chases a fowl should expect to fall down. An Igbo proverb sent by Obioma Achara, Isuochi, Nigeria

Tuesday 12 August

Even the lion will eat grass if he is starving. A Ndebele Proverb from Zimbabwe sent by Mercy Changwesha, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Monday 11 August

You learn a lot about a man by his behaviour when hungry. A Zambian proverb sent by Jonas Mumba, Nanchang, China

Friday 8 August

If you follow a dog, it will lead you to the rubbish heap. A Krio proverb sent by Alhasan Wandunni Bangura, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Thursday 7 August

The hyena does not eat its baby, and you know how insatiable it is. A Kikuyu proverb sent by Jesuis John, Kenya

Wednesday 6 August

Things that you don't know are like a dark night. A Swahili proverb sent by Eshe, Birmingham, UK

Tuesday 5 August

The people who steal your millet at night are often the same people who help you look for it the next morning. Sent by Estar Nalwanga, Entebbe, Uganda

Monday 4 August

It's only when a lion is sick that the antelope visits him to reclaim an old debt. An Igbo proverb sent by David Heart, Orlu, Imo state, Nigeria

Friday 1 August

If a dog bites you and you don't bite him back, it will say you have no teeth. A Sudanese proverb sent by Tut John Nyuon in Wollo, Ethiopia

Thursday 31 July

When you see a frog climb a fence, you know that the ground is hot. A Krio proverb from Sierra Leone sent by Sigismond Wilson, Oklahoma, United States

Wednesday 30 July

A goat eats where it is tied. Sent by Alpha Amadou Bah, Conakry, Guinea

Tuesday 29 July

A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness. An Igbo proverb sent by Vitus Uche Ngwumoha, Awo-omamma, Imo state, Nigeria

Monday 28 July

When killing a monkey do not stare into its face. A Chewa proverb sent by James J. Awali, Blantyre, Malawi, and Suzgo Lungu, London, UK

Friday 25 July

A poor man shames us all. A Gabbra/Borana proverb from northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia sent by Saied Usman Abdi, Winnipeg, Canada

Thursday 24 July

If you throw ashes, ashes will follow you. A Krio proverb from Sierra Leone sent by Harold Wilson, Maryland, US

Wednesday 23 July

A man with a cough can never conceal himself. A Yoruba proverb sent by Consolata, Lagos, Nigeria

Tuesday 22 July

Kindness killed the partridge. A Chewa proverb sent by Missy Mercy-Elsie Kazembe, Malawi

Monday 21 July

The person who has an axe does not lack firewood. A Swahili proverb sent by William Jol Bak, Wau, South Sudan

Friday 18 July

When you think of a rhinoceros, climb a tree. A Shona proverb sent by Given Mlondobozi, Tzaneen, South Africa

Thursday 17 July

A goat that dies in a barn was not killed by hunger. An Igbo proverb sent by Chukwuemeka Ekere, Nigeria

Wednesday 16 July

It is easy to be brave in a crowd. A Luhya proverb sent by John Manyalla, Kisumu, Kenya

Tuesday 15 July

Even the crazy can make some sense. Sent by Bethany Mzungu Moses, Lilongwe, Malawi

Monday 14 July

Staying near the anthill made the hartebeest brown. An Acholi proverb sent by Belkos Palenga, Gulu, Uganda

Friday 11 July

There is always a winner even in a monkey's beauty contest. Sent by Martin Manyiel Wugol, Juba, South Sudan

Thursday 10 July

No matter how sharp a knife is, it cannot cut its own handle. A Yoruba proverb sent by Yusufu Ameh, Lagos, Nigeria

Wednesday 9 July

He who does not admit defeat is not a sportsman. A Swahili proverb sent by Abdulreheman Dada, Luton, UK

Tuesday 8 July

It is the one whose leg you cured who kicks you with it. A Luganda proverb sent by Frank Morris Matovu and Kawooya Aloysius, both in Kampala, Uganda

Monday 7 July

When a madman walks naked it is his kinsmen who feel ashamed. Sent by Gerishon Wambui, Nigeria, and Yennu Samuel Nantiib, Ghana

Friday 4 July

The cow that has stepped on the mud is assumed to have drunk water. A Kalanaga proverb sent by Eke Shakwe, Tutume, Botswana

Thursday 3 July

No matter how tall the Iroko tree grows, it never touches the sky. Sent by Micheal Iroko, Lagos, Nigeria, and Sadiq Ali, Accra, Ghana

Wednesday 2 July

You cannot climb a tree from the top. Sent by Mary, San Diego, California, US

Tuesday 1 July

Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you. Sent by Nuriye Gezginci, Neukölln, Berlin, Germany

Monday 30 June

If you do not agree with the phases of the moon, get a ladder and repair it. A Hausa proverb sent by Jamil Habib, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Friday 27 June

If a lizard decides to wear trousers, it should know where to put the tail. A Soga proverb sent by Jivram Orsbourne Rosenburg, Uganda

Thursday 26 June

A dog with a bone in its mouth cannot bite. Sent by Williams Mawogole, Jinja, Uganda

Wednesday 25 June

If death does not kill you at home, outside no-one will. A Yoruba proverb sent by Fashola Bolaji Hassan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Tuesday 24 June

Do not abuse midwives while children are still being born. A Swahili proverb sent by William Jol Bak Bak, Wau, South Sudan

Monday 23 June

A cat may go to a monastery but she still remains a cat. Sent by Leake Salsawi, Ethiopia

Friday 20 June

The shea butter laughs at the salt when it rains forgetting that the sun will soon shine. Sent by Emmanuel Fiamordzi, Accra, Ghana

Thursday 19 June

A cowardly hyena lives longer but it suffers the most. Sent by Mario Tombe Lino Germiah, Juba, South Sudan

Wednesday 18 June

A monkey doesn't laugh at a burning bush. Sent by Adam Zziwa Mbiringi and Ainomujuni Norman, both in Uganda

Tuesday 17 June

One can only go round a pepper tree, but can never climb it. An Igbo proverb sent by Emeka Obia and Ndudi Ateli, both from Nigeria, and Matamba, from Dakar, Senegal

Monday 16 June

The rough skin of a crocodile is what makes it beautiful. A Swahili proverb sent by Tosh Kasamba, Kenya

Friday 13 June

The axe forgets, the tree does not forget. A Swahili proverb sent by Israel Makaza, Zimbabwe

Thursday 12 June

The basket goes where it will be returned. A Kinyarwanda proverb sent by Shyaka Ahmad Fababby, Kigali, Rwanda

Wednesday 11 June

No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yam. Sent by Joyce Adhiambo, Nairobi, Kenya

Tuesday 10 June

A dog destined to be lost does not hear the hunter's whistle. A Yoruba proverb sent by Akande James, Ibadan, Nigeria

Monday 9 June

Big melons fall upon those who have no pot. A Ndebele proverb from Zimbabwe sent by Thoman Sikowelo, Johannesburg, South Africa

Friday 6 June

Rats don't dance in the cat's doorway. Sent by J Hendrix Fahnbulleh, Monrovia, Liberia

Thursday 5 June

A person who walks wisely can travel a long distance. An Oromo proverb sent by Zerihun Tesfaye, Woliso, Ethiopia

Wednesday 4 June

If the owner of the goat is not afraid to travel by night, the owner of a hyena certainly will not be. A Hausa proverb sent by Salisu Ibrahim Mukhtar, Kano, Nigeria

Tuesday 3 June

A dog that belongs to everyone will die of hunger. Sent by Ibrahim Aboma, France

Monday 2 June

Ash laughs at flour. An Amharic proverb sent by Mekdes Gezahegn, Ethiopia

Friday 30 May

There is no prayer beyond the grave. Bless Tafy Zharare, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Thursday 29 May

A fierce buffalo has its hide made into a shield. A Luo proverb sent by Owino Onyango Mak'Oburu, Kenya

Wednesday 28 May

If you try to straighten a sweet potato, it breaks. A Bemba proverb sent by James Chiwala, Ndola, Zambia

Tuesday 27 May

It is the head that disturbs the wasp that the wasp stings. An Igbo proverb sent by Emeka Eze, Aba, Nigeria

Monday 26 May

No matter how long they live, donkeys are meals for hyenas. An Oromo proverb sent by Salah Ahmed, Minneapolis, US

Friday 23 May

The one married to lightening shouldn't be afraid of its flashes. A Chewa proverb sent by Sandfor Sean Kay Banda and Peter Yona Phiri, both from Malawi

Thursday 22 May

The person who spends time on the seashore does not eat dry rice. A Swahili proverb sent by Boss Flex K'Ochido, Nairobi, Kenya

Wednesday 21 May

First find an escape route before taunting the cobra. An Akan proverb sent by Kafuti Nsamba, Kaoma, Zambia

Tuesday 20 May

A person who admits being wrong pays less. A Lukonjo proverb sent by Kesokake Nguru Zepher, Bundibugyo, Uganda

Monday 19 May

Whoever underestimates a short person has never stepped on a scorpion. A Hausa proverb sent by Abwal Ngugi, Kaduna, Nigeria

Friday 16 May

Crowing cocks were once eggs. A Luganda proverb sent by Miriam Jade Pedro, Kampala, Uganda

Thursday 15 May

Lions that do not work together can be defeated by a limping buffalo. A Sepedi proverb sent by Victor Rasha, Pretoria, South Africa

Wednesday 14 May

The house rat tells the wild rat that there is fish in the cupboard. Sent by Chinedu Eze, Abia, DRC, and John Ene, Lagos, Nigeria

Tuesday 13 May

Patience puts a crown on the head. A Buganda proverb sent by Kasozi George, Kampala, Uganda

Monday 12 May

A home without a mother is like a desert. A Somali proverb sent by Muxamud Takoy, Bunia, DRC

Friday 9 May

One by one makes a bundle. A Runyankole/Rukiga proverb sent by Enfumu Zaitu Page, Uganda, and Kakuru Joseph, Mogadishu, Somalia

Thursday 8 May

Water cannot be forced uphill. A Kenyan proverb sent by Foreverhadiza Deezygurl Babagana, Nigeria

Wednesday 7 May

Bend the stick while it is still wet. Sent by Ssentongo Leonald, Mbarara, Uganda

Tuesday 6 May

When death wants to take a little dog, it prevents it from smelling even excrement. An Igbo proverb sent by Ihunegbo Oluchi, Enugu, Nigeria

Monday 5 May

When a man is stung by a bee, he does not destroy all beehives. Sent by Opi Jalinga Kaiser, Kampala, Uganda, and Kenrod Chisonga, Lusaka, Zambia

Friday 2 May

He who urinates in a stream must remember his family drinks from the water. Sent by Mawien Maring, South Sudan

Thursday 1 May

A hasty hyena bites the horn. An Ethiopian/Eritrean proverb sent by Tarek Mo Alemseged, Glenville, US

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