Swahili Proverbs

All cultures have proverbs, which reflect important values.

  1. He who listens to an elder’s advice does not come to grief.
  2. One volunteer is better than ten forced men.
  3. A bad brother is better than no brother.
  4. To stumble is not too fall down but to fall forward.
  5. When two elephants fight the grass is trampled.
  6. He who mounts two horses splits in two.
  7. He who wants something from under the bed must stoop for it.
  8. He who has a full meal does not know the hungry person.

Read these proverbs and select one that you like. Write about why this proverb “speaks to you.”

In addition you may:

  • illustrate the proverb or act it out
  • create a proverb of your own, using one of the following topics:
    • being a teen
    • family
    • arguments
    • food
    • friends… or a topic of your own

As you create, remember that proverbs are not simply statements of fact. They represent beliefs and are usually in colorful language, especially in metaphors.

Compiled by Barabara B. Brown Ph.D. Director
Africa in Our Schools & Community Program
based in part on work by Ann Barysh, Sudbury, Mass.
and Carol Bacak-Egbo, Pontiac, Michigan