Usually, every year around this time, I like to release a list of African Proverbs that business owners can use to support their endeavors. Good solid advise to help them navigate their market and persevere through all circumstance. However, given the major changes to markets around the world, and particularly here in the USA with the mass COVID-19 response; instead I’ve expanded the quotes to address everyone. The world as we know it has changed, and likely we will be changed by it. As a proud African American, I look to my ancestors for their abiding wisdom and I hope their sage will encourage you.
Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. — Ghanaian proverb
From this proverb we must learn that as wise as we may think we are in all of our technology and modernity, we do not hold the monopoly on sagacity. We must remember that nations and civilizations rose and fell because there was always a wiser plan that evolved in the balance of time. We are warned that wisdom is like the Baobab tree, wide and expansive. It is also an encouragement for those in developing nations and underprivileged regions to know that there is always a way forward–You just have to find it.
The child of a rat is a rat. — Malagasy proverb
Life offers us great lessons if we will learn them. Often in times of crises or need, people often forget the past. And many overlook the long history of demonstrated character. This proverb warns us not to delude ourselves to believe that the
child of a rat is something different from the one that birthed and raised it. It also helps us make better decisions in light of history and not recent developments only. While the child of a rat may be young, it is still a rat with all of the requisite characteristics. Sometimes it is often the same thing, by another name. History is often a great teacher, if we will learn the lesson.
If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building or do you change the nail? — Rwandan proverb
This proverb encourages us to look critically at the tasks we have undertaken. It asks us to be problem solvers and realize that delays and detours may occur, but we do not abandon our goal. We simply adjust, make changes and continue toward our goal. Keep building your house.
We desire to bequeath two things to our children; the first one is roots, the other one is wings. — Sudanese proverb
As the world continues to change we are left with a serious quandary. What will we leave to our children and how will we ground them in our rich history and culture. Often we forget with the youth that we have an incredible opportunity to create the world that we want by the way in which we build the future. The future is now. The future is our children. What will we have left? It is a questions worth asking and answering if you have the courage to do so. Are you in a developed or developing nation? Have you considered the moral, social and economic direction of your nation? Is it going in the direction that you would hope for your own children? Beyond political correctness–will the lifestyles we teach now produce a happier generation than before? To give our children wings we must let them know the limitless possibility within them. To give them roots, will help them go in the direction that benefits them most.
Trouble Don’t Last Always–African American Proverb
The old folks used to say it, and it’s true. Always is a long time. Remember that since change is our constant in the world, not even trouble can stay forever. Therefore, don’t make all of your plans with trouble in mind. While it is necessary to address every situation before you, whether perilous or not–it is also important to know that things will change and you will want to be mentally and physically prepare for it. Make plans not only for today, but for the future. While we cannot always be sure what that future will bring, we do know it will be vastly different from today. Trouble don’t last always, keep going!
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