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Nigerian Proverbs and Meanings

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Nigerian Proverbs

Nigerian proverbs are funny, but the majority are usually very deep and said in native dialects. Some Nigerian proverbs are cultural, and others are general. Some proverbs are not even unique to Nigeria, they are part of the many funny African proverbs said across the continent. Nigerian proverbs have deep meanings to them, some you may not understand from the get-go and others you may understand as you age. These proverbs have been the same from the times of our ancestors and are still relevant today. Some proverbs were pioneered by the proverb king himself, Nollywood actor, Pete Edochie. Here are some Nigerian proverbs and their meanings.

  1. What an elderly person sees sitting down, a child cannot see even if he climbs a tree.

This proverb is very common among mothers. They never fail to let this Nigerian proverb roll off their tongues. The meaning of this proverb borders around wisdom and what it really means is a child does not see or understand things the way a more experienced elder would and therefore struggle to make wise decisions.

  1. No matter how much your anger boils, it can’t cook yam.

Anger is a wasteful and deadly emotion. A lot of people allow anger to consume them, as opposed to finding ways to move forward and that is where this funny Nigerian proverb comes to the play and it is the truth, no matter how much your anger boils, it cannot cook yam, meaning nothing beneficial will become of it.

  1. He who goes to sleep with an itchy anus wakes up with smelly hands.

Many may not know the meaning, but this proverb is talking about procrastination. You can put off your duties as much as you want, when tomorrow comes, they will still be there. A problem will persist until it is solved.

  1. Even if the goat frowns, it won’t stop it from being sold in the market.

This Nigerian proverb is a funny African proverb as well. Can you tell when a goat is frowning? No matter what the goat does, it will still be sold in the market, meaning, what will be will be. Do not force it or do the unthinkable because nothing will change the outcome.

  1. Trouble dey sleep yanga go wake am.

This is by far one of the funniest Nigerian proverbs and it is best said in Pigin English. In English the proverb translates to “trouble was sleeping, and pride woke it up.” The proverbs simple urges you to humble yourself, though used as medicine after death, it is said as advice for future purposes just as you ask someone to let sleeping dogs lie. When you see trouble humble yourself, if you allow pride to becloud you, you will surely wake conflict up. This proverb is so relevant, legendary Afrobeat pioneer, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, sang it in a song.nigerian proverbs

  1. Lion no fit born goat.

You know it is a Nigerian proverb when the only and best way to explain it is with another proverb. The saying that lion no fit born goat is Pigin English which translates to a lion cannot give birth to a goat. This ultimately means that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. Who you are is who you will give birth to. The proverb can be used as a form of praise or condemnation, it all depends on the situation. The child will always be a chip off the old block.

  1. The disobedient fowl obeys in a pot of soup.

Disobedience will not take you far, it will only teach you a bitter lesson and this is what the proverb says. Disobedience leads to trouble or a life cut sure, therefore, you must always be humble. You may seem to have gotten off the hook for stubbornness and disobedience, the repercussions will always come back to bite you and those repercussions could be grave and beyond humbling. Look at the disobedient fowl, it now obeys in the pot of soup.

  1. Afẹfẹ ti fẹ a ti ri idi adiyẹ

This Nigerian proverb is best said in Yoruba language. The next best way to say it is in Pigin English when it is translated to “when wind blow, fowl bumbum go open”. However, it is said it all translates to the same thing which means “The wind has blown, the buttocks of the fowl will be revealed”. The proverb simply means that no secret remains hidden as circumstances just as strong as the wind will reveal them. The proverb is best used when the following are exposed, a cheat, serial liar, impersonator, pretender and so on.

  1. No matter how many push-ups the lizard does, it will never be as muscular as the alligator.

The proverb may sound funny, but it is the gospel truth. No matter how many push-ups the lizard does, it will never be as muscular as the alligator. The Nigerian proverb simple means that you never be who or what you are not, no matter how hard you try. You can try every possible method available, who you are is who you are.

  1. There is no smoke without fire.

This proverb refers to actions, reactions and effects usually in conflict. Something must be the cause a result just as smoke is a result of a fire. In life when things happen there must be a root cause. The proverb simple establishes that no action is random, something must have triggered it.

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