African Proverbs Project

Proverbs are an essential learning tool for students of African languages. In the African Proverbs Project, the Boston University African Studies Center has collected short performances by African theater troupes in their local languages. These languages include Wolof from Senegal, Hausa from Niger, Amharic from Ethiopia, Xhosa and Zulu from South Africa and Swahili from Tanzania. Each improvisation focuses on one of ten common proverbs, performed in a authentic cultural and social context. These videos are designed for advanced students of the languages and are an invaluable tool for developing language proficiency and cultural competence. Enjoy!










The Project teams have gathered, edited and produced content in multiple formats for an instructional website aimed at advanced students of six African languages. Each language of the project is represented by ten common proverbs/sayings. This website, featuring professional-quality video and audio of the languages in authentic, improvised situations, is a unique resource to help students  to develop proficiency and cultural competence in their languages (and for Wolof and Hausa students, literacy in Ajami and Latin scripts as well). The website provides an invaluable update and supplement to existing textbooks (and will, we hope, be a core module in a larger initiative we envision of creating new textbooks and instructional DVDs). These materials are freely available to the public, students, scholars, and African language programs worldwide for educational purposes.

N.B., We understand this project to be collaborative in nature. While we have worked very hard to provide excellent transcriptions and transliterations, if you as instructors or students of the language find issues with them please let us know. We can and will make edits when noted. If you as instructors have suggestions for improving the exercises please let us know this as well. You can send your suggestions to Eric Schmidt,

Note: The African Proverbs Project was sponsored in parts by the National Security Education Program (NSEP) and the U.S. Department of Education International Foreign Language Education Program (IFLE). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSEP or IFLE.

Copyright: All elements of the African Proverbs Project website architecture, including without limitation, the text, software and graphics, are owned by or licensed to Boston University, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under United States copyright and trademark laws, and applicable foreign laws. These elements may not be published, broadcast, or otherwise distributed without the prior written permission of Boston University.