Black History Month

Today I’m here to talk about Black History Month.  First of all, I want to apologize that I couldn’t get this post closer to the beginning of February, but I had so many pre-scheduled and time-sensitive posts that this was my first available free day.

Black History Month is supposed to focus on and honor black people throughout history who have made such noteworthy accomplishments as inventions, discoveries, contributions, rescues, etc.  My sister Michelle is a history major, and she would love to talk to you about all that rich history.  However, since this is my blog and not hers, she doesn’t get to do that today.  I’ve never made it a secret that history was never one of my favorite subjects.

When I lived in New York, I had the pleasure of knowing and working with a doctor who was born, raised, and educated in Africa.  He was an awesome man (with the loveliest accent).  At this same time, I also knew a woman who was a home health nurse (and who cared for and lived with Michelle’s grandma).  She was also born and raised in Africa, and she sent a large portion of her pay back home to help care for her family.  Both of these people exuded an immense love for their families as well as their friends.  And they both often told stories of a culture that embraced love above material things.

I told you last month and this month in my monthly Autism posts how much I’ve always loved the “It takes a village to raise a child” African proverb.  So for Black History Month (and with absolutely no offense intended to black people who are not of African descent), I want to share with you some of my favorite African proverbs…

Unity and Community
Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. -Tanzania
It takes a village to raise a child. -Africa
Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. -Africa
If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. -Africa

Learning and Wisdom
By crawling, a child learns to stand. -Africa
The fool speaks; the wise man listens. -Ethiopia
Wisdom does not come overnight. -Somalia
Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off. -Africa
By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed. -Ashanti
Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. -Guinea
If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents. -Africa
Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases. -Tanzania
One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom. -Africa

Friends & Family
Home affairs are not talked about on the public square. -Africa
Show me your friend and I will show you your character. -Africa
Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends. -Gabon
The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth. -Ivory Coast
When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate. -Nigeria
A small house will hold a hundred friends. -Africa
Brothers love each other when they are equally rich. -Africa

Peace and Leadership
War has no eyes -Kenya
A fight between grasshoppers is a joy to the crow. -Lesotho
Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully. -Africa
When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled. -Uganda
He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk. -Malawi
An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. -Ghana
He who is destined for power does not have to fight for it. -Uganda
Where a woman rules, streams run uphill. -Ethiopia
A leader who does not take advice is not a leader. -Kenya

Love & Patience
A patient man will eat ripe fruit. -Africa
A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries. -Africa
However long the night, the dawn will break. -Africa
Love has to be shown by deeds not words. -Kenya

Wealth
Do not let what you cannot do tear from your hands what you can. -Ghana
If you see a man in a gown eating with a man in rags, the food belongs to the latter. –Republic of Congo
The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine. -Nigeria
No one gets a mouthful of food by picking between another person’s teeth. -Nigeria
The wealth which enslaves the owner isn’t wealth. -Nigeria
You must act as if it is impossible to fail. -Ghana
Money can’t talk, yet it can make lies look true. -South Africa
Much wealth brings many enemies. -Uganda
Make some money but don’t let money make you. -Tanzania

Beauty
If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. -Nigeria
The surface of the water is beautiful, but it is no good to sleep on. -Ghana
Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty. -Nigeria
The most beautiful fig may contain a worm. –South Africa

Time to talk:  What’s your favorite African Proverb?  Who is your favorite hero, inventor, discoverer, etc., that you look forward to seeing honored in Black History Month?

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24 thoughts on “Black History Month

  1. How cruel young Rachel – you know I love playing around with proverbs turning them into a nonsense yet I can’t (given I have manners) have a go with this post. Why? Because it is my favourite post of 2015 thus far – touching, genuine, compassionate and proud. All those things plus a few more!

      • It really was a shame in some ways that this was such a ‘nice’ (nice in a good way that is) post about an important subject. You see those proverbs, each and everyone represented potential ‘fun’ to be had – so next time you do proverbs build them into a post I can play with rather than feel guilty even just thinking about playing with. Do you ever have that guilt when you see something funny when attending say, a funeral where you know full well you mustn’t laugh but can’t help yourself. Happens to me all the time – hate myself for it… note to self for a future post ‘Mike at the funeral of his old Armenian friend called Roger’ what a debacle my old sec Chantal & I caused that day (luckily Shirl didn’t attended as she was heavily pregnant with G at the time or else things would have been even worse)!

      • Oh, no! Yes, I can relate… I do that more often than I care to admit. 😉 So what happened at Roger’s funeral? You didn’t happen to wear a disguise nose glasses, did you? 😉 Yes, I can imagine Shirl would have given you a black and blue arm! 😉

  2. I just want to mention Alexander McCall Smith’s amazing series set in Botswana, The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency. These novels are not really detective stories but charming little fables about African culture and life. So many of the proverbs you’ve included are woven through his novels. I think you might enjoy very much if you haven’t discovered already. Mma Ramotswe is my personal hero.

  3. I was born and raised in NY, and continue to live in big cities where there is a lot of diversity. Because of my background, I rarely see color. It may be a good thing, but also seem to be ignorant about a lot of the differences in culture because of it. These are great proverbs. Thank you for raising awareness!

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