Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Proverbs for Graduation

Proverbs for Graduation

Not everything a scholar knows he learned from his teacher.                 

Education is the work of your entire life.                                               -Haiti

Learning is for life, eating is for today.                                                  -Kiswahili

Learning is like sailing the ocean: no one has ever seen it all.               -Africa

Inquiry saves a man from mistakes. He who makes no inquiry, gets himself into trouble.
-Benin, Nigeria, Togo (Yoruba)

 No one is without knowledge except him who asks no questions.
-Central Africa (Fulfulde)

Knowledge is like a forest bird, one person alone can't catch it.
-Ghana (Akan)

A traveler who asks questions doesn't miss his way.
- Africa

No matter how full the river, it still wants to grow.
-Democratic Republic of the Congo

If you understand the beginning well, the end won't trouble you.
-Ghana (Ashanti)

Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth. 
- Benin, Nigeria, Togo (Yoruba)

Better you lose time than character. 

Rice is one, but there are many ways of cooking.

Some birds avoid the water, ducks look for it.

It is survival not bravery that makes a man climb a thorny tree.
-Uganda (Ganda)

The river may be wide, but it can be crossed.
-Ivory Coast

If one person kindles the fire, others can take live coals from it.
-Ghana (Twi)

A person is a person because of other persons.

Though a tree grows ever so high, the falling leaves return to its roots.

If you climb up a tree, you must climb down the same tree.
-Sierra Leone

There is no foot that does not stumble.
-South Africa (Zulu)

For more African proverbs for graduation and other special occasions, 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