I love literature!

I am deliberate about being diverse in my reading. I try to read as much literature from as wide a geographical pool as I can.

One of the things I have discovered is that literature from different parts of the world have certain distinguishing features.

For African literature, the one distinguishing feature is the use of proverbs. Long before formal education as we know it today, was introduced on the continent, knowledge was passed down through word of mouth. Proverbs, wise sayings that communicated a society’s values and generational wisdom, is a common feature across most African societies.

Here are some of my favorite.

Lola Shoneyin (The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives)

“People are like water. And the same waters that the streams divide meet again the great ocean.”

Wole Soyinka (You Must Set Forth At Dawn)

“As one approaches an elder’s status, one ceases to indulge in battles”

Yvonne Adhiambo (DragonFly Sea)

“The carrier of a secret is not told its meaning.”

Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart)

“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Everyone can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

Indulge me.

How was wisdom passed on where you are from?

What are some of those wise sayings you’ve read or have been told that have stuck with you?


  1. Sadly there is no interest in the wisdom of elders here. We are useless and to be ignored. Worse than that, we are the cause of all the world’s problems. Wisdom spreads by twitter and Facebook and TikTok.

  2. In my childhood days it was sticks and running laps lool πŸ˜… joke

    Idioms and proverbs were part of our schooling. I had a small red book, an idiom dictionary.

    However, wisdom was imparted through narrations, story telling and actions.

    1. Hey Non ConformistπŸ˜ƒ

      Yes!! Narration and story telling was the medium of choice!!

      Thank you for making time 😊

      Stay safe!

    1. Hey P Squared!

      I couldn’t agree more πŸ™ŒπŸΏ

      Chinua Achebe is the repository for proverbs πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

    1. Hey πŸ˜ƒ

      No, I haven’t got a chance to read it yet. Though I have read about Sarowiwa from other authors.

      I shall look it up. Thank you for the recommendation.

      Thank you for making time 😊.

  3. I like Bruce Lee’s quote,
    β€œI fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

    It’s the idea that consistency is a strong indicator of ability. The one who practices a thousand kicks once may or may not be able to execute any of them whatsoever, but when someone’s practiced the same kick ten thousand times, then you know that if he kicks you, you take it very seriously.

    1. Absolutely πŸ™ŒπŸΏ

      That idea of consistency is what made Bruce Lee so lethal. Watching the IP man series really made me appreciate just how extraordinary his work ethic made him.

      Thank you for making time 😊

  4. Interesting post – I have read books from China and India and very much enjoy the hallmarks of their literature. Now I have some books to read from Africa and an opportunity to learn more. My favorite and oh-so-appropriate family saying, spoken mostly by my mother, is “Watch what you are doing”. I find myself repeating it frequently to my young grandchildren and even to myself on occasion.

  5. “Writing is taking a risk, and it is actually fighting invisible and invincible enemies. They are over-confidence, stupidity, expectation and narcissism.”

    That’s one of a quote I like from an Indonesian author, Andrea Hirata. One of the quote that inspires me to always write. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Speak only if it improves on the silence. Yes, I heard this one often.

    Yours are precious. Never heard them told in such words before. I like them told like that.
    Thanks for sharing. Wonderful. I wish you miracles.

    1. Hey Selma!

      Speak only if it improves on the silence is a timeless saying!

      Thank you 😊

      Thank you for making time 😊

      Stay well 😊

  7. My family’s heritage comes from several places throughout the world. What seems to be the standard of teaching wisdom for all those places is storytelling about generations of the past. None of these stories are pure truth, but all teach something of value.

    1. Hey Jolly!

      I couldn’t agree more. Story telling has remained constant in all societies as far as passing down wisdom, history and values are concerned.

      Thank you for making time 😊

  8. Let your word be your bond.
    Never argue with a stupid person, they’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. –Mark Twain
    If a pig is content playing in his own shit, then who are you to tell it otherwise. Me lol
    You can’t be more concerned for people’s problems than they are. It’s exhausting.
    Don’t start none, won’t be none. –From the book of Hoodrinthians Chap 1 Verse 1 lol

  9. Wow, thank you for your question! The word “wisdom” immediately made me think of my grandmother, who is a main source of love and wisdom in my life.

    And the amazing thing is that is the main wisdom she passed on to me: the wisdom of love and being loving. Next in line is the wisdom of laughter. You would know where she was judging by where you could hear laughter. She would always, always find a way to make everyone’s hearts sing, no matter how hard life got. I assume it was, in part, a defense mechanism (she had been through war, and famine, and epidemics, etc.). But you would always feel better about everything once she had been around.

    I do that, too, now, without thinking about it. It comes naturally.

    At times, wisdom is not passed on through words. πŸ™‚

    Thank you!

    1. Hey πŸ˜ƒ

      Thank you for your feedback.

      Your grandmother is one special human being!

      It’s the “At times, wisdom is not passed through words,” for meπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

  10. I think music is not only relaxing, it can give us wise sayings. John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Simon & Garfunkel: “I can gather all the news I need on the weather report…” Thanks for the question and generating the lively discussion.

    1. Hey Rebecca!

      I couldn’t agree more!

      Music has always been a medium to pass wisdom.

      One of my favorites is Kenny Rodgers:
      “You never count your money while sitting at the table, they’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing is done.”

      Thank you for making time 😊

  11. Wonderful post. I particularly like the one from Wole Soyinka and find it to be increasingly apt as I approach middle age. I was one of those fiery youngsters who always had to be right, always had to have the last word, and as I discover more about myself and the world, it is clear how much energy those attitudes robbed from me. Picking my battles and letting go of small things is restful.
    I have some wisdom to share with you, although it’s not part of my heritage. I studied Korean martial arts for years and remember the summer before my black belt exam, when I was torn between preparing for the test and training for the mountain bike racing season. I was frustrated because I had plateaued on the bike and my efforts to prepare for the test were similarly going nowhere; this despite practicing five or six hours and biking 15 to 20 hours every week. My Grand Master sat me down and told me I needed to make a choice or fail at both. When I bridled at this observation, he said, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.” It was humbling and true, and I have been able to apply it ever since when I try to accomplish too much at once.

    1. Hey πŸ˜ƒ

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s so insightful and inspiring πŸ™ŒπŸΏ

      Question, which one did you eventually go for? Your black belt exam or the biking?

      His words are timeless.

      “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.”πŸ™ŒπŸΏ

      Thank you for making time 😊

      1. Hi! Thank you for responding to my offering. Because you ask, I chose the black belt exam, although I did continue racing the next year. Have a wonderful week!

  12. Wisdom is shared through experiences, and spoken word, and written literature. One of the best pieces of advice that comes to mind immediately was passed to me by my grandfather, “There are no strangers in this world, just friends you haven’t met yet.” We are all human, and worthy of time, and by giving to each other we build strong foundations of friendship.

    Thank you for the encouragement to remember the journey through my own upbringing.

    1. Hey Hamish!

      That’s a whole ship of wisdom right there, brother!

      “No strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet.” πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

      That’s deep!

      Thank you for making time 😊

      Stay safe!

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