10 Popular Nigerian Proverbs And Their Meanings


Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage extends far beyond its vibrant music and dance. Popular proverbs, passed down through generations, offer valuable insights into Nigerian life, values, and philosophy. These succinct sayings capture the essence of everyday experiences, offering guidance, humour, and wisdom in equal measure. Here, we explore some of the most popular Nigerian proverbs as compiled by Naijassador and delve into their deeper meanings:

“One who swallows a bone knows its value.”

This proverb emphasizes the importance of appreciating something once you have experienced its difficulty. It highlights the value of learning from past experiences and cherishing what we have, especially if it comes with challenges.

“The same sun that melts wax hardens clay.”

This proverb underscores the idea that life experiences have varying effects on different people. What weakens or discourages one person can motivate and strengthen another. It emphasizes the importance of individual resilience and perspective.

“A child who runs away from his mother will also run away from war.”

This proverb warns against cowardice and emphasizes the importance of facing challenges head-on. It highlights the idea that someone who avoids responsibility at home will likely lack the courage to confront bigger difficulties.

“No matter how hot one’s anger is, it cannot cook beans.”

This proverb emphasizes the futility of holding onto anger. Just like anger cannot cook food, it cannot solve problems. It encourages calmness and rational thinking to address issues effectively.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This proverb highlights the importance of teamwork for achieving long-term goals. While individual speed may get you there faster initially, collaboration brings greater strength and endurance for a sustainable journey.

“When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it.”

This proverb emphasizes the difference between sympathy and taking action. Many may offer well wishes, but true support involves taking the initiative and actively helping someone in need.

“A ripe fruit will drop when it notices an honest person.”

This proverb promotes honesty and integrity. It suggests that good things come to those who are genuine and trustworthy, attracting opportunities and positive outcomes.

“He who sleeps with an itchy anus will wake up with their hands smelling.”

This proverb warns against bad habits and hidden actions. It highlights that negative choices and actions, no matter how private, may eventually have public consequences.

“The lizard that ignores sunshine loses its green.”

This proverb emphasizes the importance of embracing opportunities. Just as a lizard needs sunlight to maintain its vibrant colour, people need to actively participate in life to thrive.

“Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.”

This proverb emphasizes the long-term consequences of our choices. The way we live our youth shapes our future opportunities and positions in life.


These are just a few of the many proverbs woven into the fabric of Nigerian culture. Each proverb offers a unique perspective on life, reflecting the wisdom and experiences of generations past. As you explore these proverbs, remember, that they are not just sayings – they are guiding principles for living a meaningful and fulfilling life.


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