The Significance of African Proverbs and Folktales and Their Relationship to the African Culture.
The African Proverbs have had a great influence on lifestyles of many people, mainly successful African Americans through means of religion and culture. The word proverb comes from the Latin proverbium (pro meaning "in front of, on behalf of" and verbium meaning "word"), suggesting that a proverb takes the place of ordinary words. Proverbs are important in all traditional societies. .
" Proverbs are distilled genius of oral cultures, perhaps even an encapsulation of the whole. They identify and dignify a culture, bringing life into wisdom and wisdom into life. Unfortunately their potential value for modern thought and life is little recognized." (Kentfield 42).
Even in Africa itself, proverbs are a vanishing heritage associated mostly with the rural world. They seem never to have found a home in the modern world, especially in the imported system of education. Schools have not brought out the great importance of proverbs in the lessons being taught in school. "The central intellectual problem of Africa today is how to integrate those two worlds rather than leave the next generation spread-eagled between them." (Leslau 58) Proverbs are small pieces of wisdom, some moral and some philosophical, that are reduced to a few very carefully crafted words and/or phrases.
The shortness of proverbs helps in the memorization of the proverb itself. This is so that everything important and relevant in daily life can be recollected and passed on from person to person, generation to generation. A well-chosen proverb can have a far more greater impact than a good deal of ineffective talk. This is why many people who began proverbs, have sayings for proverbs themselves. The Yoruba culture says "Proverbs are the horses of words [ideas]. When a word is lost, we use a proverb to find it." Modern African writers such as Chinua Achebe enjoy the use of proverbs as a means of conveying a deep reality of the African experience.