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33 African Proverbs about Strength (with Explanations)

Strength is regarded highly in African societies and many other parts of the world.  African societies in particular regard strength as the basis of success and have crafted many proverbs to express their value.  

Here are some proverbs drawn from all over Africa that talk about strength:

1: The one who lacks the strength to pound yams pretends to drive away flies from the yams.

This Nigerian proverb is about persistent and focus.  The proverb talks of the power of persistence, especially where there is a bigger goal in sight.

2: The bird that pecks at a rock trusts in the strength of its beak

This Ugandan talks about belief and its important.  It speaks more to people who are determined with a firm belief in their strength taking on tasks and challenges that might seem impossible to others.

3: When you chase a fellow man, reserve the strength to switch you back when he recharges and turns.

This West African proverb warns of the possibility of retribution. It warns those people who are fond of pointing fingers and accusing others as the same can be said and done to them in equal measure.

4: The thrower of stones throws away the strength of his own arms

Though very complex, this West African proverb cautions on doing things repeatedly, some of which might have a negative effect on the doer.

5: The strength of a man cannot be determined by his size

This West African proverb talks about the value of expertise over the size of the body. It can also be interpreted to mean looks do not always paint the entire picture.

6: The strength of a wolf is in the pack, the strength of the pack is in the wolf

This Nigerian proverb conveys a message of interdependence and its importance in society.  It implies that people need each other for protection and other benefits.

7: A stealing dog strengthens its back

This is an African proverb that addresses people who are used to doing the wrong things.  It urges them to desist from such wayward actions or get used to the consequences that come along with their negative actions.

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

This Nigerian proverb best illustrates the importance of doing things together with a common goal in sight. The proverb speaks more to just how much little contributions can help realize bigger goals in life.

9: Cleverness is better than strength

This Kenyan proverb addresses the use of knowledge and wisdom over physical strength. The proverb urges and encourages the use of knowledge and wisdom in some cases rather than the use physical strength.

10: The strength of a crocodile is water

This African proverb is all about the environment. It talks of how an environment defines an individual and also contributes to his or her success.

11. The baobab’s strength is in its roots

Another closely related African proverb to the previous entry is this which simply means that the true strength of the baobab tree lies in its roots, emphasizing the importance of a solid foundation or source of support.

12: The strength of the elderly is in the ears and on the lips

This West African proverb is used to illustrate the essence of the elderly and what makes them important to the society. Most African elder’s strength lies in the words which comes from their lips and their ability to hear.

13: Wisdom outweighs strength

This central African proverb emphasizes the essence of wisdom over physical strength. The saying suggests it’s better to use wisdom than just relying on being strong in some situations. Some people like being strong, but the proverb tells us that being smart is important too.

14: The spirits are the strength and counsel to the living

This African proverb talks about the value and driving force of the unseen and how that drives positive change in various places.

15: The strong will always rule, it’s only a question of the content of the strength

This African proverb paints a picture of what goes on in the African society where the high and mighty always have their way.

16: What we do with pity another would call it strength

This African proverb is used to manifest the different forms of strength which in some cases include pity for one another, especially during the times of difficulty.

17: Man is like palm wine, when young, sweat but without strength; in old age, strong but harsh.

This African proverb best illustrates the reality of life.  No one is ever going to have everything they need when they need as some things come before others and sometimes at less preferred times.

18: Every strength is a weakness and every weakness is strength

This African proverb is very important especially in the modern-day context as it teaches on situational awareness.  Expounded further, the proverb asks people to remain on the watch out for the things that make them great as it could be the same things that deny them other privileges and opportunities and vice versa.

19: Unity is strength, division is weakness

Perhaps the most common African proverb is this one.  The proverb has long been used to emphasize the importance of togetherness and how much people can do by just coming together.

20: Hurrying and worrying are not the same as strength

This Nigerian proverb does well in illustrating the essence of patience. Unfortunately, hurrying and worrying are the exact opposite of this virtue.

21: A woman’s strength is a multitude of words

In many African societies, women are perceived to be talkative hence the proverb above. The proverb implies that a woman’s strength is sometimes determined by the number of words she is able to utter.

22. However strong the grain, it cannot break the cooking pot

No matter how strong an individual is, they cannot overcome a collective force. This proverb emphasizes the power of unity against individual strength.

23: The habit of thinking is the habit of gaining strength

Thinking has long been regarded as the best way to find solutions to problems.  Exercising this habit over time can build an individual mental strength and empower him in other areas according to this Nigerian proverb.

24: He who feeds a wolf strengthens his enemy

This Nigerian proverb has a lot to do with choosing one’s enemy wisely. Sometimes people feed and empower their enemies not knowing that they are doing themselves a huge disservice in the process.

25: There is no strength without unity

This Nigerian proverb talks more about coming together and the whole essence of togetherness. The proverb establishes a connection between strength and unity and their importance.

26: Strength is like milk—it is inexhaustible

This Zimbabwean proverb explains the essence of strength and its ability to last forever due to its abundance.

27: The rich man spends his money, the poor man his strength

This Ugandan proverb teaches about the class difference between the rich and the poor where the poor toil with their strength all along compared to the rich who have a means.

28: The strength of a palm tree is in its branches

This Ghanaian proverb talks of how growth can underpin one’s position anywhere and make them unshakable.

29. When spider web unite, they can tie up a lion

This Ethiopian proverb underscores the strength that comes from unity. It suggests that even seemingly delicate or small things, like individual strands of a spider’s web, can become powerful when united.

30: Strength does not correspond with courage

This Kenyan proverb draws some differences between courage and strength asking people to choose either wisely.

31: A pipe of kif in the morning gives one more strength than a 100 camels in the courtyard

This Moroccan proverb can best be summarized as size does not always matter.

32: In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength

This is a Togo proverb that teaches people to seek the value and benefits of quietness and strength and not just arguing and fighting all the time.

33:   Strategy is better than strength

This African proverb teaches the importance of having a means over absolute reliance on strength which sometimes fails.

Other African Proverbs:

37 African Proverbs on Death

Kenyalogue Contributor


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