Nigerian proverbs are a great way to teach your kids about wisdom and culture. They are often short and easy to remember, making them the perfect thing to share with your little ones. While they are often full of profound insights, it's amazing how wisdom is often still palatable for little minds when metaphors and imagery are present. While some can be humorous, many provide depth and context to age old wisdom. 

Many African proverbs are strongly tied to nature, earth, and animals, conveying lessons of life often through often simple daily occurrences, all of which young children are familiar with. In this blog post, we will be sharing six of our favorite Nigerian proverbs to share with your kids, and a little bit more about their meaning. 


6 Nigerian Proverbs that You can share with Children | Ade + Ayo

"The same sun that melts wax is also capable of hardening clay"

The same sun that melts wax is also capable of hardening clay - Nigerian Proverb

The power of this proverb is that it can inspire you to desire success, and no matter what your situation may be right now -- it will eventually turn into something good. It highlights the versatility of our obstacles; they can be used to make us or break us. But, much like the sun, there is no way to avoid these hardships altogether. Everyone has their own strength which helps them reach various heights despite any obstacles present on the road towards fulfillment!

"There is no smoke without fire"

There is no smoke without fire | Nigerian Proverb

This proverb reminds us that there is always a "why" behind someones behavior. We can not simply look at the result, we must look deeper to see the full picture. Likening the image of smoke and fire going hand and hand (never one without the other) also helps little ones begin to learn about cause and effect, both of their actions and the actions of those around them. If someone isn't being kind, it's important to look past the unkindness, not take it personally, and acknowledge that others have their own issues to deal with -- just as we do!

"A ripe fruit will drop when it notices an honest person"

A ripe fruit will drop when it notices an honest person | Nigerian Proverb

This one is all about what you believe. If your integrity speaks volumes, then good things will come to fruition just by being yourself! As the proverb suggests, presenting yourself as a person of integrity and honesty will attract the attention of the things your want most, and they will come to you in their season. This proverb also subtly reminds us that good things will come when they are ready, just as the fruit will drop when it is ripe and when it notices “an honest person.”

“Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands”

Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands | Nigerian Proverb

A reminder of the importance of balance, as well as give and take. When we are drawn to something, we must reflect on what it is that puts that very thing into motion. More than likely, the thing that we want can be achieved with hard work, which is the equivalent to the bow that remains with you. You always have it within your power to remain focused and aim for what you hap to achieve, your passion (the arrow) will then carry you to the goal, whatever that may be. 

“However hard a lizard would do a press up, it will never have an alligators chest”

However hard a lizard would do a press up, it will never have an alligators chest | Nigerian Proverb

This is one of the more silly proverbs and may seem disheartening at first glance, but the message is an important one. Rather than exhausting ourselves over what we see in others and strive to become that, we should focus on who we are and what we truly have to offer. No matter how much the lizard wants to be like the alligator, it will never be as muscular. But, the inverse is that the lizard has access to places and spaces that the alligator does not, simply because of his size! Both are equally important, just as our talents and skills are.

“Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.”

Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse. | Nigerian Proverb

Think of the image of the ostrich with its head in the ground. Just because we choose to turn a blind eye to what is going on around us, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. This proverb reminds us not only to stay curious and always seek more wisdom and understanding but to do so with courage. If we wish to not know about something, it’s likely due to fear or discomfort associated with whatever that thing may be. While littles are quite curious and don’t typically need to be encouraged to be even more curious, it is worthwhile to teach them that there is much they do not know – and to always press into the unknown with confidence and courage. 

Will You Be Sharing These Proverbs with Your Littles?

Nigerian proverbs are a great way to impart wisdom to our children. These five proverbs all have themes of honesty, integrity, and authenticity. We should encourage our kids to live their lives by these values. And what better way to start than teaching them from an early age? Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe to our email list for 15% off your first order of our African inspired collection of children’s apparel and more!

August 25, 2022 — Temidayo Adedokun

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