25 Ancient African Proverbs About Love That Will Make You Rethink Everything

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013), one of Africa’s and Nigeria’s most celebrated sons said it best, “Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.” Referring specifically to Igbo culture, and indeed in many Nigerian cultures, palm oil is used to make the meal sweeter. In the same way, our conversations are enriched by the proverbs we use. Here are a few wonderful African proverbs that should get you thinking. Some are straightforward. And some are not. And as every African child knows, the latter were not intended to be, and will have to be learned through experience, and over a lifetime.

1. When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow. Ethiopia

2. You know who you love but you can’t know who loves you. Nigeria

3. Where there is love, there is no darkness. Burundi

4. If anyone makes you laugh, it is not always because they love you. Kenya

5. If you marry a monkey for its wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains. Egypt

6. He who loves, love you with your dirt. Uganda

7. If love is a sickness, patience is the remedy. Cameroon

8. Love doesn’t rely on physical features. Lesotho

9. Love is a despot who spares no one. Namibia

10. To love someone who does not love you is like shaking a tree to make the dew drops fall. Congo

11. If a woman doesn’t love you, she calls you “brother.” Côte d’Ivoire

12. Don’t try to make someone hate the person he loves. For he will go on loving but he will hate you. Senegal

13. The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love. Morocco 

14. Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly but flooding the river. Liberia

15. Love for something makes a man blind and deaf. Sudan

16. If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars? Tunisia 

17. A letter from the heart can be read on the face. Kenya

18. One who marries for love alone will have bad days but good nights. Egypt

19. One who loves the vase, loves also what is inside. Tanzania/Kenya

20. Love doesn’t listen to rumors. Ghana

21. Do not treat your loved one like a swinging door: you are fond of it but you push it back and forth. Madagascar

22. Love, like rain, does not choose the grass on which it falls. South Africa

23. Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands. Nigeria

24. Don’t be so in love that you can’t tell when it’s raining. Madagascar

25. Love is a painkiller. African origin unknown Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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