Sayings From Africa

Africa is a continent known for its rich culture and the complexity of its beliefs. The multitude of tribes and languages has resulted in a number of fascinating sayings and proverbs. These have taught us much about the beliefs, values and wisdom that exists within the African borders. They also reveal that human beings are more alike than they are different. African sayings may have used metaphors that are more relevant to the rural, tribal way of life of their originators, but the principles are something with which almost anybody can identify.

These are just a few of the many sayings and proverbs that Africa has produced:

• When your mouth stumbles, it’s worse than feet (Oji).
• To stay a long time in the water does not make you clean.
• It is better to be loved than feared.
• A village never lacks a beautiful young woman.
• However long the night, the dawn will break.
• Women give birth with other women.
• Blind belief is dangerous (Luyia, Western Kenya).
• A champion bull starts from birth (Luyia, Western Kenya).
• He who marries a real beauty is seeking trouble (Accra, Ghana).
• The young can’t teach traditions to the old (Yoruba).
• There is no medicine against old age (Accra, Ghana).
• The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long (Ethiopia).
• Hold a true friend with both hands (Kanuri, Nigeria).
• Rising early makes the road short (Wolof, Senegal).
• Individuals have different talents.
• The teeth of a man serve as a fence (Wolof, Senegal).
• We add wisdom to knowledge (Kalenjin, Kenya).
• Do not follow a person who is running away (Kalenjin, Kenya).
• Water cannot be forced uphill (Kalenjin, Kenya).
• We should talk while we are still alive (Kalenjin, Kenya).
• There is no bad patience (Swahili).
• Do not vacillate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing (Ethiopia).
• It is foolhardy to climb two trees at once just because one has two feet (Ethiopia)
• He flees from the roaring lion to the crouching lion (Sechuana).
• Do not tell the man carrying you that he stinks (Sierra Leone).
• You suffer from smoke produced by the firewood you fetched yourself (Luhya, Kenya).
• A man who dictates separates himself from others (Somalia).
• Instruction in youth is like engraving in stones (Berber, North Africa).
• A low-class man will just talk; deeds are the hallmark of a gentleman (Swahili).
• The haughty blind person picks a fight with his guide (Ethiopia)
• The rainmaker who doesn’t know what he’s doing will be found out by the lack of clouds (Luganda, Uganda).
• The one chased away with a club comes back, but the one chased away with reason does not (Kikuyu, Kenya).
• He who loves money must labour (Mauritania).
• Poverty is slavery (Somalia).
• Knowledge is better than riches (Cameroon).
• A man’s wealth may be superior to him (Cameroon).
• The rich are always complaining (Zulu).
• Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat, it is just that no one ever gives them meat (Akan).
• People know each other better on a journey
• Before you go out with a widow, you must first ask her what killed the husband.
• A wise man never knows all, only fools know everything
• Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.


Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the entire planet earth looked very different to what modern man experiences today. Continents were not yet divided, and the vegetation and animals were different. Significantly, the climate was also vastly different to what it is today. Climate plays an integral role in determining the plants and animal that live in a certain areas, as well as how habitable a place is for human beings.

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.