Nigerian Proverbs and Nigerian Words of Wisdom

The Nigerian Culture is a unique culture and on this page you will see that through Nigerian proverbs and Nigerian words of wisdom. The Nigerian language is intriguing, but most of us do not know the language so for your benefit the following proverbs have been translated into English. Enjoy and discover the Nigerian culture through there Nigerian words.

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Nigerian Proverbs, words and sayings

If one finger brought oil it soiled others.

The young abuse freedom of speech because the elderly exercise restraint



A spacious ground is the right place to demonstrate one’s skill in wrestling.


nigerian culture

A speedy wrestling and a bad fall go hand in hand.

A strong man is remembered on the day of the fight, and a gluttony on the day pounded yam is surplus.

Good conscience is a powerful weapon of war

The mediocre brags in the absence of the grand masters

Those who routinely claim to thrive on great endeavors, often fail in minor but important tasks.

A child is what you put into him.

A child’s face is his mirror.

If you fail to take away a strong man’s sword when he is on the ground, will you do it when he gets up?

A tree is best measured when it’s down

A tree is known by its fruit

An old man is there to talk Fine words do not produce food

Give me a push from my back does not mean give me a hunchback

If a blind man says, “Let’s throw stones,” be assured that he has stepped on one.



If a monkey is amongst dogs, why won’t it start barking

If crocodiles eat their own eggs, what would they do to the flesh of a frog?

A tree does not move unless there is wind

It is the first step that is difficult.

It takes a village to raise a child

It takes all sorts to make a world.

No sane person sharpens his machete to cut a banana tree.

Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.

Not to know the good we have till time has stolen the cherish’d gift away, is cause of half the misery that we feel, and makes the world the wilderness it is.

The house roof fights the rain, but he who is sheltered ignores it.

The house sweeper’s buttock is never at one direction

The hunter does not rub himself in oil and lie by the fire to sleep



The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree said he would praise himself if no one else did.

The one being carried does not realize how far away the town is.

When the mice laugh at the cat, there is a hole nearby.

A man who lives on the bank of a river does not use spittle to wash his hands.

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Not to oversee workmen, is to leave your purse open.

One goat cannot carry another goat’s tail

Profit is profit even in Mecca

The death that will kill a man begins as an appetite


nigerian cultureThe disobedient fowl obeys in a pot of soup

The frog does not jump in the daytime without reason.

A person is a guest for one or two days, but becomes an intruder on the third.


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A bag that says it will not take more, and a traditional doctor who says he would not leave anything behind are both sure to suffer.

A bird can drink much but an elephant can drink more.

There is nobody who does not know the trick of putting meat in the mouth and making it disappear.

A shepherd does not strike his sheep

A single man can not build a house.

Nigeria Don’t casually make threats in public.

So you will not be held responsible for another man’s action.

If we knew where death resided, we would never stay there

When the elephants fight it is the grass that suffers

By being grateful, a man makes himself deserving of yet another kindness



A bottle of oil warmed over the fire has no means of producing oil by itself.

A clay pot of water is never hot-tempered.

A farmer does not boast that he has had a good harvest until his stock of yams lasts till the following harvest season.

A glorious past is the work of a glorious man.

A goat owned by two people sleeps outside.

A good name is better than gold.

A child who fears beating, would never admit that he played with a missing knife.



nigerian culture

A child who has no mother will not have scars to show on his back.

A child who is carried on the back will not know how far the journey is.

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A herbalist that refuses to ask laymen what leaves he looks for in the bush, must have difficulties getting what he wants.

A housewife who complains that there is not enough foodstuff in the market should remember that if her husband adds to what is already available, there would be more for everyone.

A hunter who has only one arrow does not shoot with careless aim.



A laughing jackal portends a witch in the rafters.

A leader in the community without a pot belly is a stingy man.

A lizard that fell from the top of a tree wastes its time looking back to where it fell from; if there was anything good the lizard deserved, it could not have missed it while it was there on top of the tree.

One who holds someone to the ground holds himself

Whatever keeps one from being deaf to certain things keeps one from being happy

A bush fowls’ playground is never appreciably spacious.

A chief is a reward of God

A child does not die because the mother’s breasts are dry.

However black a cow is, the milk is always white

One falsehood spoils a thousand truths Marriage is like a groundnut: you have to crack them to see what is inside

A lounging lizard catches no crickets.

A man can not sit down alone to plan for prosperity.



A man that begets a barren cannot have a grand child.

A man who eases himself in public, gives cause to others to despise him.

A man who has one finger pointing at another has three pointing towards himself.

nigerian languageA man who is advised and he takes it, is still a man who acts from his own free will.

A performing masquerade who tries too hard to outclass his colleagues may expose his anus.

A person always breaking off from work never finishes anything.

A person on whose head lice are being removed, must be grateful.

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A person once bitten by a snake will be scared by an old rope.

A person who does not bathe, must know it of himself that he is dirty.

A person who has children does not die.



A person who picks something and decides to make it his own, ought to think how he would feel if he was the person who lost the property he picked.


nigerian language

A piece of iron can only become what the blacksmith says it should become.

A pig that is used to wallowing in the mud looks for a clean person to rub against.

A pot that build attracts the cook.

A proverb is the horse of conversation: when the conversation lags, a proverb revives it.

The rot on a system is always within

A bird does not change its feathers because the weather is bad.

A bird that flies from the ground onto an anthill does not know that it is still on the ground.

A single tree can not make a forest.

A smiling face dispels unhappiness.

Words are like tattoos in the mind – be careful what you say to others

Without knowing a way thoroughly at day time, never attempt to pass it at night

It is by the strength of their number that the ants in the field are able to carry their prey to the nest

One should not look for something in the bag of a person who himself is needy

Where the wine visits, there it shall stay

A snake which escapes fills a basket.

A thorn that pierces the toe should be burned by the light of a new moon lest the devil possess the foot.

A wealthy man will always have followers.

nigerian proverbsA wise man who knows proverbs can reconcile difficulties.



A woman possessed by demons dreams of toads in red dancing shoes.

A woman who has not been twice married cannot know what a perfect marriage is.

A woman who is not successful in her own marriage has no advice to give to her younger generations.

All is never said. All lizards lie on their bellies, but nobody knows which of them suffers stomach ache.

Allah preserve us from “If only I’d known!”

Although the snake does not fly it has caught the bird whose home is in the sky.

An ant-hill that is destined to become a giant ant-hill will definitely become one, no matter how many times it is destroyed by elephants.

An oil lamp feels proud to give light even though it wears itself away.

An old banana leaf was once young and green.

He who waits for a chance may wait for a long time



The one-eyed man does not thank God until he sees a blind man no matter how tall you grow – you can never grow taller than your master


nigerian proverbs

A speedy wrestling and a bad fall go hand in hand

A farmer does not conclude by the mere look of it that a corn is unripe; he tears it open for examination.

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A farmer who would not work inside the rain and would not work under the sun, would have nothing to harvest at the end of the farming year.

A fight between grasshoppers is a joy to the crow.

A fowl does not forget where it lays it eggs.

A friendly person is never a good-for-nothing.

Too much complaining causes a person not to benefit from what he has



If the gun kills unimportant people, it will kill important ones

A crowd is like a smoldering log which can spark into a flame at any time.

nigerian proverbsA diviner cannot accurately divine his own future.

A doctor who invoked a storm on his people cannot prevent his house from destruction.

A family name is not cooked and eaten, one’s life is the thing.

No man is completely left without any provision or endowment by nature If you give someone the honor of which he is worthy, he will not hold a grudge

A man who is trampled to death by an elephant is a man who is blind and deaf.

A man who lives alone is either always overworked, or always overfed.

A man who walks alone carries a load of palm-fronds.

A masquerade does not perform to an outside audience until he performs well at the home base.

A masquerade is not a spirit only because of its mask.

A mother is gold, a father is a mirror.



A mouse that removes the palm-nut that turns out to be the bait of a trap, would already have known that the palm-nut does not ripen on the ground.

A one-eyed person does not thank god until he meets a blind person at prayer. A pad that breaks a pot of water does not remain on the head.

If death be terrible, the fault is not in death, but thee.


nigerian words

It is the fear of offence that makes men swallow poison.

A man does not wander far from where his corn is roasting

A rat is not born a rabbit.


A tiger does not have to proclaim its tigritude.

A traveler to distant places should make no enemies

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