10 African Proverbs From Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

My people say proverbs are palm wine used to digest words easily.  I dediced to read  Chinua Achebe’s classic Things Fall Apart for the second time but in a different way. This time I took note of the Igbo proverbial wisdom that made the novel rich and sodden in the Igbo tradition and culture. Proverbs are essential tools for communication in igbo land. They are short sentences coined from life experiences and observations and filled with deep wisdom. They are used to give advice when one refuses to take corection and on serious occasions. In fact, there is a saying in Igbo land: when a child doesn’t understand the meaning of a proverb said him as an act of caution, and it’s later explained to him, that his mother’s bride price has automatically become a waste. Lol, it is as serious as it is.

The storytelling narrative techniques of this book present the richness of the untainted Igbo culture before the advent of the colonial masters. Books like this serve as a constant reminder for our true identity, deep into the roots. Regardless of the benefits of westernization, let’s not forget who we were, where we come from, what we had, and what made us.  The book also pointed out a lot of things the missionaries did wrong; no doubts we’re grateful for the benefits from westernization, at least that’s a taste of the cake. But we are Africans that’s our heritage, let’s hold on it.

Having said that let’s move on to the 10 proverbs carefully stated in Things Fall Apart:


Our elders say that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines those who kneel under them. Let the kite perch and let the egret perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break.


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


Eneke the bird says that since men have learnt to shoot without missing, he has learnt to fly without perching.


You can tell a ripe corn from its looks.


Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.


A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches.


A child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm.


A man who makes trouble for others is also making for himself.


I cannot live by the bank of the river and wash my hands with spittle.


Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life.


Things Fall Apart was one of the first African novels to gain worldwide recognition.Years upon years gone, it still remains one of the great novels about the colonial era.

Thanks for coming by, I’ll see you when next I see you on the blog.

Hugs X Kisses.




picture from khubaibiliophile

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