Liberian Proverbs

elderA Proverb is a  short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought; an adage [Dictionary.com]. In Africa, it is often said that a proverb is like pepper with which kola nut is eaten. Evidently, any discussion without proverb is as dry as eating kola without its supplements. There are reported instances where highly contentious issues are resolved just by citing one proverb. In Liberia, we say “Kukujumuku – you’re not inside; you’ll not know.” At the same time we are mindful of “gbaysuluku-some days good; some days bad!”


  1. One single finger cannot pick a louse.
  2. One tree cannot make a forest.
  3. When a chicken is white, it’s white.
  4. It is better to fall while sitting than to fall while standing.
  5. The time rabbit was on top of the hill, his foot could to touch the skies, do you expect his foot to reach the skies when he is in the valley?
  6. When during a heavy down pour of rain, your bucket did not get filled, do you expect the dew to fill it?
  7. Whenever you play with oil, some will remain on your fingers.
  8. One cannot be at the mouth of a river and uses saliva to wash his hands.
  9. Looking up, the tallest and the shortest person will see the skies at the same time.
  10. To see what Christmas will look like, take a look at the eve.
  11. The baby that says his mom will not sleep, that baby will not sleep too.
  12. You can’t eat crab with shame.
  13. Anyone who was ever bitten by snake, scares even a worm.
  14. We keenly observe a snake before finding the stick with which to kill it.
  15. An elephant will never forsake its tusk.
  16. Teeth and tongue can fight but they will never stop working together to eat.
  17. If monkey throws down its own baby from the top of the tree, the rock below has no other alternative but to burst its head.
  18. If your house does not sell you, the street will not buy you.
  19. How long John can stay in the army?
  20. If you were not present during the time he was taking a bath, look how he is applying the lotion.
  21. There is no swimming argument at the water front.
  22. Rats say they walk in group to enjoy the counsel of one another.
  23. When a baboon offers you banana, imagine how many he got in his stomach.
  24. A high death rate does not prevent us from having children.
  25. Drop by drop fill a gourd.
  26. When you have hunch back and a hunch back person is being buried, follow the procession to the grave site to watch how he is being buried.
  27. No matter how far a hand wanders, it always lands on the stomach
  28. Not because Tarpeh vacationed in the big city that you think you can spend a night there too.
  29. We don’t rob the owner to satisfy the one who deserves it.
  30. Dry rice will never speak ill of pepper and salt.
  31. Woman is not a banana to be shared or given as a present; it’s one woman-one man.
  32. When water stays too long in the mouth, it turns into saliva.
  33. No matter how the breast hurts, mama still has to nurse the baby.
  34. Not because you know how to weep that you must be at every funeral.
  35. Patient dog eats the fattest bone.
  36. Always letting go or saying “forget it” caused chicken to have no teeth.
  37. A stingy person will die in a foolish manner or “sabee man dies kelleh way.”
  38. Fly was living before dog’s ear got cut.
  39. If someone says he or she is a good dancer, don’t argue with them; call a drummer
  40. A stranger never heads a funeral procession.
  41. A  rooster will never crow in a strange place or a stranger-rooster never crows.
  42. Where there are no dishes, the calabash is supreme.
  43. When you invite a drunk to your party, be prepared to clean his vomit.
  44. Never serve liquor to a ruthless man.
  45. The banana peel you throw on the road will be the one that will cause you to slip and fall.
  46. It is never a good idea to toilet on your own farm road.
  47. The experienced (player) does not fight for jersey.
  48. When bad luck catches you, even a rotten banana can break your teeth.
  49. Only a liar will always have a witness far away.
  50. Softly, softly catches a monkey
  51. Old lady’s tooth was already shaking and about to move…then you hit her?
  52. Crayfish was already about to turn red, then you pass it near the fire?
  53. (During snail hunt,) a child can never be on his mother’s back and find snail on the ground.
  54. Only bravery can get a lizard from the top of the house to the ground.
  55. You cannot walk at night under the cover of darkness and forget that day will break.
  56. You don’t discover kola nut under the kola tree and place it under the same tree for safe keeping
  57. A crocodile cannot leave from under the waters and come on land to ask deer for a drink
  58. All fingers are not equal.
  59. A monkey will never separate herself from her black hands.
  60. A chicken that does not stop scratching and digging the dumpsite for food, soon discovers the bone of its dead mother.
  61. It takes one foolish person and one wise person to build a town
  62. Anytime tortoise is unable to climb a tree, he blames says because he is laughing so hard.
  63. When you pay attention while the food is boiling, you will not complain when it dries up and begins to burn.
  64. Birds fly in the direction of where the palm trees are ready for harvest.
  65. A girl never runs to overtake her own breast.
  66. No man is ever taller than his own neck
  67. Nothing can be whiter than whitest
  68. If you reach to a spot where your friend convincingly defeated you in a fight, don’t say that it is the spot where the women broke firewood.
  69. When two elephants fight, the grass suffers.
  70. Town trap is not for rats alone
  71. Cassava leaf is not for goat alone.
  72. An unfaithful wife is like a big drum; one person is carrying it while another is playing it.
  73. A child who does not want to get down from his mother’s back and walk always complains of worms and messes on the ground.
  74. Running water never passes by a hole
  75. You don’t realize the importance of your butt until it is sore.
  76. Easy water runs deep
  77. When someone is washing your back, it is best to bathe your own stomach
  78. The road that goes on the small farm is the same road that leads to the big farm.
  79. In a walk, the leg in the rear position never catches up with the leg in the front.
  80. Being extended an invitation to dine does not make you a kinsman.
  81. A generous giver always grieves at night
  82. Chicken says “it pays to obediently follow the one who owns the meal.”
  83. A beggar has no choice.
  84. Children know how to run but they can’t hide.
  85. We sit on the old mat to plait the new.
  86. Dry dog is sweet but what will be eating until the dog is dry?
  87. Only a quick-witted bird can sleep above the road.
  88. Only the women that are pregnant will certainly remember each other’s due dates.
  89. You cannot stop the sun from rising.
  90. “Come and stay with me (permanently)” is different from “come and spend some time with me.”
  91. If you pull rope, rope will pull bush.
  92. The things an adventurer will see the oldest person may never see or experience.
  93. Free ride, free die.
  94. John’s palm oil wastes on John’s rice.
  95. You don’t stand in the midst of driver ants to plug out those ones that are biting you.
  96. What do you think you are doing when you pee in a river that has already over flooded its banks- addition or subtraction?
  97. Being immersed in a conversation when escorting a friend led Nyemah Tarlor all the way to Wehteh klor (Nana Kru.)
  98. If cray fish comes on land to tell you a story about catfish, do not doubt.
  99. Because a tree loses its leaves (during the fall) does not means the tree is dead
  100. Through fish, crayfish drinks water.
  101. You should never beg for alms why carrying a baby on your back.
  102. The wind that exposes a chicken’s rear end blows from its back.
  103. A dog takes into account the size of his butt before he swallows a bone.
  104. When you bend down to look into someone’s backside, someone is peeking into yours.
  105. No matter how long a stick stays under water, it will never turn into a fish. 
  106. If you mind the ugliness of a baboon, you will beat it until it dies.
  107. Hurry, hurry burst trousers.
  108. Short cut kills deer.
  109. If you rush, you’ll crush.
  110. If you mind the noise in the market, you will never buy anything.
  111. Fanti man will never say his bony is rotten.
  112. If you catch fish your buttocks wet, if you don’t catch fish your buttocks wet.
  113. Sheep luck and goat luck are not the same.
  114. Smart people hang their clothes in the spot where the sun is shining.
  115. It is a good thing to hang your hat where your hand can reach.
  116. Black ant says “the hole that will lead to the discovery of a treasure is not really deep.”
  117. The butchering of a rat begins from the tail.
  118. Leaning against the pillar of a house does not make one the owner.
  119. A man having a rectal dysfunction does not mean he is unable to urinate.
  120. A Boa Constrictor that is curled up in one spot finds no food.
  121. There is no joke in snake’s mouth.
  122. You cannot hit anyone on the head while your hand is in their mouth.
  123. Your character is like your shadow. You may succeed in hiding your shadow for a while but after the sun comes up, it will definitely show.
  124. During the dry seasons when the creeks are dried, we readjust our expectations