In Africa, proverbs are an essential part of every culture, often being used to pass on wisdom to the younger generations. In most African societies, it is a source of great pride to have many proverbs at your finger tips.
Here are ten proverbs from various African peoples you and your business could learn a thing or two from.
1. Mwangaza mbili moja humponyoka.
(From the Waswahili of East Africa)
“He who is after two things at the same time, one will surely escape him.”
Focus your energy on one task at a time to achieve maximum effectiveness in your business. Don’t be running around like a headless chicken doing a dozen things at a go… you’ll end up on a plate.
2. Ilmenqafeland’ufte, ad’aleindibdyufileind’ibdu.
(From the Borana of Ethiopia)
“Work done in the right way rewards both the employer and the employee.”
Do I even have to say it? Just do your job!
3. Emphiempango ekukwatwa nilobho ihango.
(From the Kerewe of Tanzania)
“Big fish are caught with big fish hooks.”
Setting goals for your business is the easy part. The question is, do you have what it takes to achieve them? When you set big goals, you must put in equally big efforts to see them come alive.
4. Ammin dumay dib uma soo laabto.
(From the Somali of Somalia)
“Lost time is never found again.”
Time is money, so when you mismanage your time, it is your business that bleeds. Make sure assignments and projects are completed timely so that your business operates smoothly, and above all, profitably.
5. Ebi Aah gbe bha yu, Aah ii mun bhi ẹkpa.
(From the Esan of Nigeria)
“Until the animal you are killing is dead, you don’t put it in a sack.”
Do not leave tasks half-way done. When you embark on a project, say a social media campaign for your business, don’t abandon it mid-way! It will not only be a waste of money, but of time too. See that everything is done to the very end.
6. Indlela ibuzwa kwabaphambili.
(From the Zulu of South Africa)
“A way forward is asked from those who are in front.”
Get off your high horse and ask around for advice. And, not just from anyone. Ask those who have been successful in your particular line of business. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to share their secrets, which will catapult your business to the next level.
7. Obe ti Baale ile ki je, Iya ile ki i se.
(From the Yoruba of West Africa)
“The soup the master of the house does not eat, the woman of the house does not prepare.”
Listen to your customers. Give your customers exactly what they want, how they want it, when they want it.
8. Eyoka lakula itali ku hange u na odibo.
(From the Oshikwanyama of Angola)
“A big snake will not find you if you have a stick.”
Always have solutions ready at your fingertips. Think on your toes. Brainstorm your way out of fixes. In the murky waters of today’s business world, your business cannot afford to not be agile or else the sharks will have dinner.
9. Boro kon go mayga windo ra, nga no mayga no.
(From the Songhay of West Africa)
“The person who lives in the nobles’ compound behaves like the noble.”
Mix and mingle with the best! Join a business social network or group. You never know what valuable contact you could make there, or what new industry practice you could pick up.
10. Ezi osheenya ohuriire nizo oyota orwaire.
(From the Bakiga of Uganda)
“The firewood gathered when you are healthy warms you when sick”
Set aside some resources for the tough times. If your juice business booms say in the dry season, do you have a plan on how your cash flow will survive the rainy season? So plan ahead and secure your business’ future.
Gerald Ainomugisha is a freelance web content writer and Content Solutions Provider (CSP) focusing on business reporting, HR management, IT and digital marketing.