In 2017 we featured five African quotes for business, and our readers loved it. This year we are going for round two with six African Proverbs for Business, the Wakanda Edition. You will find meaningful proverbs from the tribes of successful Africans around the world! We include sage from African tribes both old and new! Enjoy!
Quote: An undecided man is the worst disaster of the village. – Luo Proverb
Notable: Lupita Nyongo, Actress (Black Panther)
In true Wakandan fashion, our first proverb is from the Luo Tribe of Black Panther star, Lupita N’yongo. They are native to Western Kenya, northern Uganda and parts of Tanzania. This proverb is especially important for businesses, because decisiveness key. While no one wants to make mistakes, indecision can retards real progress. Entrepreneurs have a saying, “Better done than perfect.” Many times, indecision comes because we fear to make mistakes. But you must always remember, fear has no place in your business, but mistakes do! We learn from mistakes, and therefore, it is better to act rather than squander opportunity by indecision.
Quote: Water does not get bitter without a cause. – Hausa Proverb
Notable: Aliko Dangote, Billionaire
Are things going wrong in your business? It’s time to figure it out objectivity. This proverb comes from the Hausa of northern Nigeria, the tribe from which billionaire oil industry magnate, Aliko Dangote descends. The problem may be technique, product design, customer service or even location. It is up to you to discover it. Learn to detect warning signs early on and find solutions. And if you do not know the cause, get help! But above all, do not adopt a policy of apathy that says, “this is just the way things are.” If you do, you are sure to see even further decline which might lead to the death of your business.
Quote: One monkey don’t stop no show. ~African-American
Notable: Martin Luther King Jr., Pastor/Civil Rights Leader
This humorous yet poignant proverb hails from the African-American tribe of Martin Luther King descended from Africans of the transatlantic slave trade. These were Africans from West and Central Africa who through slavery merged into a super-tribe known as Black Americans–a true Wakanda. Black Americans are the modern representation of a common phenomena in African history where kingdoms and tribes often merged through conquest, marriage or legal pact. In early U.S. history, Black Americans were often included in traveling circuses as exhibits from Africa and may have developed the proverb there. The idea is that if one circus monkey will not cooperate, the ringmaster will not stop the show. This is an important concept to keep in business, because often things will go wrong, or people will refuse to be helpful or even betray you. But the show must go on. Loss, failure, or setbacks are not a reason to quit. This proverb encourages us to be resilient, recover from loss and keep pursuing our goals and dreams.
Quote: If you rush to take the Kings crown, no one serves you. ~Nzima, Akan Proverb
Notable: Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana
This Nzima proverb of the Akan tribe from which Ghana’s first African President, Kwame Nkrumah emerged teaches a very timely lesson. Many of us want instant success and instant sales, without understanding the true way businesses grow. Today, many new “startups” on the inside track often get large infusions of cash from venture capitalists that inflate the appearance of success. Others underfunded enterprises struggle for survival. It seems unfair but remember this Nzima proverb. Your goal is to gain the confidence and trust of the consumer by providing reliable products/services with excellent customer service. This will give you true staying power and help you to keep growing when venture backed startups fail because they rushed for the crown. Keep your head up and let your work speak for you.
Quote: Cock Mouth Kill Cock. ~Jamaican Proverb
Notable: Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, President of Jamaica.
How many business secrets are lost because we are not able to keep secrets? Let’s face it, business is a competition, so it is important that you and your team keep strict confidence. This proverb hails from Jamaica, where Africans were carried to the new world via the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and merged to become Afro-Caribbean. Among their most noted is also Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller the former president of Jamaica. This group of brave Africans often endured the cruelest environmental and physical conditions in slavery and from their affliction grew an indomitable spirit that led to victorious insurrections which freed thousands and gave birth to many new republics across the Caribbean. This Jamaican proverb warns against broadcasting company information too soon. Be mindful of with whom you share ideas and sign nondisclosure agreements in the case of partnerships or other ventures to protect budding ideas, product lines and services.
Quote: Where one falls is where his god pushed him down. – Igbo Proverb
Notable: Tony O. Elumelu, Founder and Philanthropist
This proverb is a clever one—a bit on the tricky side too. It comes from the inventive Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria, where Heirs Holding billionaire and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu calls home. Doubtless no man likes to think that “his god” pushed him down, but as entrepreneurs, executives and professionals we must learn that not all failure is bad. Failure is often necessary to learn something new or to correct a problem that will help us to improve. If you’ve taken a fall, don’t beat yourself up, instead figure out why “your god pushed you down.” You’ll get up even better than you were before! Take courage!
If you enjoyed these proverbs, please send your favorite African proverbs and let’s go for Part III.