Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

African Proverbs about Money and Wealth

Make some money but don't let money make you. - Tanzania

It is no shame at all to work for money. – Africa

He who loves money must labor.  - Mauritania

By labor comes wealth.- Yoruba

Poverty is slavery. - Somalia

One cannot both feast and become rich. - Ashanti

One cannot count on riches. - Somalia

Money is sharper than the sword. - Ashanti

A man's wealth may be superior to him. - Cameroon

The rich are always complaining. – Zulu

The wealth which enslaves the owner isn't wealth. - Yoruba

The poor man and the rich man do not play together. - Ashanti

Never promise a poor person, and never owe a rich one. - Brazil

Lack of money is lack of friends; if you have money at your disposal, every dog and goat will claim to be related to you.- Yoruba

With wealth one wins a woman. - Uganda

Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat; it is just that no one ever gives them meat. - Akan

A real family eats the same cornmeal. - Bayombe

If your cornfield is far from your house, the birds will eat your corn. - Congo

Money can't talk, yet it can make lies look true. - South Africa

One cannot count on riches. - Somalia

Money is not the medicine against death.- Ghana

He who receives a gift does not measure. - Africa

Much wealth brings many enemies. - Swahili

There is no one who became rich because he broke a holiday, no one became fat because he broke a fast. - Ethiopia

What you give you get, ten times over. - Yoruba

Greed loses what it has gained. - Africa
You become wise when you begin to run out of money. - Ghana

If ten cents does not go out, it does not bring in one thousand dollars. - Ghana

You should not hoard your money and die of hunger. - Ghana

Wealth diminishes with usage; learning increases with use. - Nigeria
Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. – Akan

Having a good discussion is like having riches - Kenya

Knowledge is better than riches. - Cameroon

You must act as if it is impossible to fail. - Ashanti

Do not let what you cannot do tear from your hands what you can. - Ashanti

For more African proverbs on money and wealth (and many other topics) please see Lifelines: The African Book of Proverbs

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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at