Five African Proverbs for Travel

Every year around this time at we find nuggets of wisdom from our ancestors to help in areas of business, life and more. This year we explore proverbs for travel (work, leisure or migration). There will be a special bonus proverbs article for readers to send in their own favorites for October. SEND HERE:


The Person who has not travelled thinks his/her mother is the best cook.

Kamba Tribe (Eastern Kenya)

It goes without saying, if you have not travelled, you may not know the many wonderful things and people that await you. The wise Kamba of Eastern Kenya provides this witty proverb on experience. It is easy to make singular judgements about people places and thing when one hasn’t experienced more. Things become less black and white when you’ve seen and experienced what is beyond your mother’s kitchen.


Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Igbo Proverb

You may be happy to start your new journey–whether for leisure or work, but don’t move too quickly. Be mindful of the new travel procedures and paperwork and most of all research your new destination before you go. Many travellers eager to connect or put everything on video forget that they are travelling to somebody’s home. It is a place where they grew up and there are already traditions and ideas in place. It is better to learn as you go and understand first, than to go and offend others or put yourself in peril. Whether it’s meeting Black Americans in the US, Zulu in South Africa or Oromo people in Ethiopia for the first time, tred carefully and respectfully to observe their cultures and values as a newcomer. Angels have special powers, you don’t!


A lot of small steps can overcome a big problem.

Ndebele Proverb

Many people think travel is all roses and resorts. But that’s not quite true travel. The truest travel will put you in touch with local people–up close and personal. Sometimes that means encountering setbacks, delays and problems. Especially in the time of Covid-19 there will be challenges. But even without a pandemic, navigating a new country can be a feat! Sometimes, when faced with a problem or an impasse, stop and think it through. Break up the task into smaller steps and you will find the answer!


I don’t buy a chipmunk in a hole.

Wollof/Jollof Proverb

Perhaps one of the cleverest proverbs by the Jollof of Senegal. (Yes, this is where the term Jollof Rice comes from, it’s really named after a tribe in Africa…so it’s origins are pretty clear.) But back to the Proverb.—This one means don’t buy anything before you see it and this is great advice if you are travelling. Many people will see that you are a foreigner and try to sell you something useless. In some places, selling people fugazi goods has become a tradition in the society; with people being able to convince themselves such acts are clever or that they are somehow entitled to your money simply because you have it. In such cases its a good idea to be extra vigilant. Nobody likes to admit that schemes and fraud have crept into their society (Every countey has its own forms of moral decay–so openly talking about it may be taboo). But as a traveller, you don’t have time for the flattery at the loss of your money. So be the judge of every purchase you make. Be sure to investigate every purchase. While some countries have policies and laws in place to reduce this kind of thing, some do not. So it’s up to you to be vigilant. Don’t buy a chipmunk in a hole!


Everyone deserves to be treated as a human being.

Hatian Proverb

This proverb was crafted by the beautiful and brilliant Hatian people on the Afro-Caribbean Island of Haiti who overthrew their French tormentors under the direction of Toussaint L’Ouveture. They knew more than ever, as Afro-Caribbean descendants of French Slavery (CDFS) the importance of treating all mankind with humanity. As a traveller, it is easy to get caught up in your own pursuits, going from this place to that one. Please do not forget about the humanity of the many people you will meet along the way who will only ever know their own little corner of the world. You don’t need a passport to be humane. You don’t need a black card or the top suite at the best hotel. They might just sell roasted corn by the road, soul food from a food truck or suyya under the stars. They might even work at Wal-Mart, Shope-Rite or MTN, but all in all, those are the humans that really make travel special. They are the real people who bring a country to life. If we miss that part when we travel, then we’ve missed the whole point of travelling. If we forget their humanity, we have forgotten our own.

Stay tuned for major updates on travel and more opportunities in the future

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