John CornwellIAF Library

African Proverbs

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Using African (and other) Proverbs for inspiration and connection



To help participants reflect on the power of Proverbs and learn from each other




    1. Ask participants to think about powerful proverbs that motivate and inspire them - as the facilitator, you may wish to share one or two in order to get the ball rolling

    2. Then go round the group and ask people to share their proverb, explain why they have chosen it and any deeper meanings attached to it, as well as the origin of the proverb by country and/or language

    3. After going round, take a few moments to reflect on the different proverbs shared and how they impact our lives.  Ask participants how they could also make use of proverbs in their daily lives, whether personal or professional

    4. Ideally, document the different proverbs and share any further resources (e.g. Chiku Malunga's work on "Using African Proverbs in Organisational Development"

    5. This process can also be conducted in small groups depending on time available and the overall size of the group


    There are thousands of powerful proverbs used on a daily basis throughout the 55 countries in Africa.  They can be used in many different ways during workshops - as energisers, to back up learning and/or to introduce new themes and topics.  One leading proponent of this approach is Chiku Malunga from Malawi and an interesting document called "Using African Proverbs in Organisational Development" can be downloaded in several languages here

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