You want to know how rich the tradition of an African culture is? Check out their proverbs. Just as it is obtainable in many African cultures, Akan proverbs remain an integral part of the language of the people. In this article, we are going to have a look at some Akan proverbs and their meanings.
Ghanaian proverbs is one of the vital ingredients that form the lifestyle of a typical Ghanaian. And the reason is partly because of the fact that it serves to season their culture’s language so they end up appearing or sounding more beautiful. With the use of stories, symbols, and others, Akan proverbs are used to teach or impart knowledge, ethics, wisdom and even morals.
If you see anyone who is so vast in Akan traditional proverbs, you will discover they are able to use proverbs in Akan language without stress. Akan traditional proverbs are so beautiful in that they cover different facets of life including family, marriage, humans generally and can be used to explain the past. In fact, there are also other proverbs in Akan language that cover issues about God, values, plants and animals, among others.
As I have noted earlier, Akan proverbs address different issues of concern to us as humans, but for the purpose of this article, I am going to segment them in four categories. While I give you Akan proverbs about life, I will also give you some that address God and marriage. And at the same time, I will give you some funny Akan proverbs.
While there are Akan proverbs pdf that you can download, below are a compilation of famous Akan proverbs and their meanings. I also intend to explain these proverbs in English so you can better understand the wisdom they convey to you.
Akan proverbs about life
Berɛ te sɛ anomaa, woankyere no na otu a, wonhu no bio
Meaning: Time operates like a bird; while it is before you, if not caught, it flies away and never to be seen again.
We don’t have the luxury of time to live and do things the way we want. The truth is time is an impatient visitor, while you have it, you make the best of it. And if you don’t, you can never regain whatever time you have lost. Hence, the best time to do anything is now.
Nsa baako nkura adesoa
Meaning: A hand is never enough to lift a heavy load.
There is so much power in unity. Even the holy book puts it that two are better than one, and a three-fold cord cannot be easily broken. We are not created to live independent of others, we need other people at every stage of our life. No matter how much we achieve, when we synergize with others, we are able to do much more than we would have done individually combined together.
Opanyin a wommo ne bra yiye no na oda asaso
Meaning: If as an elder or an aged, you don’t live a worthwhile life, you will sleep in the living room.
Just as the English saying goes that as a man lays his bed, so he lies on it, this is the same point this Akan proverb is driving at. The way you live your life now as a youth determines what becomes of your future. Life is an investment; whatever we do today, whether good or bad, determines what we will reap tomorrow. Therefore, everyone has got to live a life that is worth the while in their youthful days and do well to plan for their tomorrow.
Onyankopon danseni ne ahonim.
Meaning: Human’s conscience is God’s witness.
Every human is born with a conscience. There is no how you do right and you will not feel it in your conscience. The same happens when you do wrong. So, by implication, our conscience serves as our judge.
Biribi anka papa anka angye grada
Meaning: If there is no smoke, there won’t be fire.
It is just as the Newton’s law of motion states it that except a force acts on an object, it will always be at its point of rest. This tells you that nothing happens just by itself without a causative agent. Behind every noise, there is something making the sound.
Akan proverbs on marriage
Obea ye turom mu nhwiren, ne kunu nso ye ne ho ban
Meaning: While a woman stands as a flower in a garden, her husband is the fence that protects her.
The two notable objects in the proverb are flower and fence. The woman being likened to a flower explains how delicate or weak women are, while the fence symbolizing man tells of their means of protection. By implication, every man is to serve as a wall of protection around their wives; they must do their best to secure them at all times.
Oyere te se kuntu: wode kata wo so a wo ho keka wo; wuyi gu ho nso a, awo de wo.
Meaning: A woman can be compared to a woolen blanket which if you use to cover yourself, you may feel irritated, and yet, if you remove it, you become cold.
This is used to teach perseverance in marriage as there is no marriage that does not have its own ups and downs. While each marriage’s challenges are different, the partners are expected to do their best to keep their relationship running.
Awareso ne awaregyae ne fa bi gyina nsewnom so.
Meaning: The success or failure of a marriage is partly determined by the in-laws.
This explains the importance and roles that the extended families play in the marriage of a couple. It means that by what they do or fail to do, they can determine whether a marriage will succeed or fail.
Nsuo a edo wo na eko w’ahina mu
Meaning: The river that loves you is what enters your pot.
Relating this to love affairs, this can be interpreted to mean it is the person who loves you well that eventually proposes to you. And in another sense, it could be explained as it is the person who loves and feels concerned about you that gets involved in your affairs.
Obea ko aware a, ode ne na ko.
Meaning: The moment a woman steps into marriage, she does with her mother.
A woman cannot be better than the way she had been trained by her mother before she gets married. So, the way a mother raises her girl child reflects how her conduct will be by the time she becomes a wife. This is why a mother is expected to teach her daughter all she needs to know as touching taking care of her husband.
Akan proverbs about God
Obi Nkyere Abofra Nyame.
Meaning: God does not have to be pointed out to a child.
You see, God is everywhere and His acts are felt everywhere. He is also omnipotent, meaning that he has all power and he is never limited to a place. By just considering the acts and operations of things around us, not just adults but also a child will know that God exists.
It is then assumed that if a child could believe that there is God merely by the things he sees, it will be foolishness for an adult to doubt or question the existence of God.
Obi kwan nsi obi kwan mu
Meaning: Our paths cannot cross the other’s.
God is not limited or restricted to a group of people; for everyone that is interested in him, he is always available and accessible to all. Therefore, you necessarily don’t need another person before you can access God, and you don’t need anyone’s approval before you can see Him.
Aboa a onni dua no, Nyame na opra ne ho
Meaning: For an animal without a tail, God is the keeper of his body.
No matter how vulnerable a person may be, even if abandoned by all, God is always available to help them. This is a proverb of hope that for anyone who seems to be dejected and/or rejected, God cares for them.
Funny Akan proverbs
Me Num Kankan So Me Dokunu Ka
Meaning: The odour in my mouth is enough to be munched on my kenkey
When someone wants to stay aloof of a situation and does not want to have anything to do with it, the proverb is used. Therefore, when someone uses this proverb, he is saying he wants to remain silent on a problem at hand without making any comments.
Nye Agoro Ne Kuto Ma Me Nhwe Wo To
Meaning: Not all jokes are to be made.
This is trying to explain that there are some jokes which are expensive, and so, it is better to be silent in such occasion than to make jokes that will cause trouble.
Obi akɔnnɔdeɛ ne odompo nsono
Meaning: What someone calls his delicacy is the guts of another’s odompo.
Just like the English proverb that says what someone calls a meat is a poison to another person, this Akan proverb explains that what someone finds fun in is what another person considers uninviting. So, depending on the context in which someone is using it, the proverb generally explains that we all see things from different viewpoints so that what one likes is what another detests.
So far, I hope you fall in love with these enriching Akan proverbs that address virtually all facets of life. The knowledge of these proverbs as well as their understanding give you a better idea of how and when to use them.