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100 Multicultural Proverbs

100 Multicultural Proverbs
Inspirational Affirmations for Educators

Foreword by Jacob U. Gordon, Afterword by William B. Harvey

December 2007 | 120 pages | Corwin

"Obiakor poignantly bestows upon us the infinite wisdom of culturally diverse peoples that has been passed down from generation to generation. At the same time, he provides interpretations that challenge us to rethink traditional school leadership and teaching styles in ways that lead to transformed educational practices for all learners—adults and children alike—in an age of accountability and reform."
—Stanley C. Trent, Associate Professor of Special Education
University of Virginia

Traditional wisdom to inspire and enrich your teaching and leadership!

This thought-provoking book presents wise sayings from different continents, countries, tribes, and religions—proverbs that have had a historical impact on the building of communities and that continue to influence present-day events.

Believing that the complexity of the world's problems calls for new ways of thinking, discussing, sharing, teaching, and learning, the author focuses on the implications that these proverbs have for interpersonal communication and cooperation in today's society.
Ideal for teachers and administrators, this illuminating text offers thoughtful reflection about:

  • Self-responsibility
  • Collaboration and consultation
  • Spirituality
  • General life lessons

About the Author
1. Proverbs That Teach Self-Responsibility
Proverb #1: If Everyone Loves You, You Will Not Know Who Poisoned You

Proverb #2: If You Tell a Tree that You Will Kill It...

Proverb #3: The Rat That Joins the Lizard to Get Wet in the Rain...

Proverb #4: What You’re Looking for Is What You Will Get

Proverb #5: What a Person Does Is in His Heart

Proverb #6: If You’ve Not Reached Where You’re Going, You Should Keep Going

Proverb #7: Eneke the Bird Noted That Since Men Have Learned to...

Proverb #8: Your Intelligence Is Your Handbag, and You Carry It...

Proverb #9: When a Young Man Washes His Hands Properly...

Proverb #10: The Lizard That Fell From the Iroko Tree Said That If...

Proverb #11:The Person Who Blows the Flute Must Sometimes Wipe His Mouth

Proverb #12:The Dog Does Not Chew the Bone That Is Hanging Around Its Neck

Proverb #13: If You Do Not Allow People to Know What Your Size...

Proverb #14: If You Pull a Tree and It Pulls You Back, You Should Leave it Alone

Proverb #15: If One Is Not Careful, What Destroyed His Father Might Destroy Him

Proverb #16: As You Make Your Bed so Will You Lie on It

Proverb #17: If You Try to Wrestle Down Your Father, His Wrapper Will Cover Your Eyes

Proverb #18: When You Chew the Dried Meat, it Fills Up Your Mouth

Proverb #19: You Can Cry All You Want, But You Cannot Cry Out Blood

Proverb #20: Where You Live Is Where You Protect

Proverb #21: Money Is the Beauty of a Man

Proverb #22: It Is Not the Load That Breaks Us Down; It Is the Way We Carry It

Proverb #23: A Good Name Shines in the Dark

Proverb #24: A Person Who Does Not Concede Defeat Is Not a Good Sport

Proverb #25: A Person Who Praises the Rain Has Been Rained On

2. Proverbs That Teach Collaboration and Consultation
Proverb #1: Life Is in the Ears

Proverb #2: To Come and Eat Is Not to Come and Work!

Proverb #3: A Tree Cannot Make a Forest

Proverb #4: When Mother Cow Is Chewing Grass, the Younger Ones Look at Her Mouth

Proverb #5: It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child

Proverb #6: When You Wrestle Someone to the Ground, You Also...

Proverb #7: A Fool Does Not Know That His Brother or Sister Is a Visitor

Proverb #8: The Fly Without an Advisor Follows the Dead Body Into the Grave

Proverb #9: A Gathering of Kinsmen and Kinswomen Is an...

Proverb #10: When Two Elephants Fight, Grasses Suffer

Proverb #11: Laughter Is Just a Matter of Moving Back the Cheek

Proverb #12: A Good Friend Is Better Than a Bad Family Member

Proverb #13: The Tiger’s Cub Does Not Chew Grass

Proverb #14: If You Give Your Mother a Counterfeit Money, You...

Proverb #15: The Person Who Sits Next to Someone Can Easily Smell His Mouth

Proverb #16: The Knife and the Axe Do Not Compete

Proverb #17: You Cannot Climb a Tree Without Support

Proverb #18: Let the Kite and the Eagle Perch and Whichever One...

Proverb #19: The Crazy Person and His Mind Understand

Proverb #20: In My Poverty, Let Not Poverty Befall the Person Who...

Proverb #21: The Child’s Home, Even If It Is Trashy, Is Always a Palace Away From Home

Proverb #22: The Rooster Does Not Forget Who Plucked Its Feathers...

Proverb #23: When the Moon Is Shining, a Person With a Physical...

Proverb #24: When a Child Is Tired of Working, He Resorts to Fighting

Proverb #25: When You Dig a Ditch for Others, You Might Fall in It

3: Proverbs That Teach Spirituality
Proverb #1: If You’re Eating With the Devil, You Must Use a Long Spoon

Proverb #2: If You Fall Down and Do Not Stand Up, Evil Will Take Over

Proverb #3: God Does Not Give You a Load That You Cannot Carry

Proverb #4: Evildoers Are Usually Pursued By Their Own Shadows

Proverb #5: Do Not Put Yourself Where Your Faith Will Fail You

Proverb #6: I Am Holding My Staff and You Are Holding Your...

Proverb #7: The Toughest Head Carries the Masquerade

Proverb #8: Let’s Continue to Sacrifice and Let the Blame Go to the Gods

Proverb #9: God Gives and God Takes

Proverb #10: If You Are Better Than Someone, You Might Be Better...

Proverb #11: No Person Is God

Proverb #12: God Knows the Heart of Everyone

Proverb #13: The Same Mother Delivers the Children, but the Same...

Proverb #14: When You Believe, Your God Will Believe

Proverb #15: God’s Time Is The Best

Proverb #16: You Can Never Become Someone Else’s God

Proverb #17: The Opportunity That God Sends Does Not Wake Up...

Proverb #18: Everyone Has His/Her Own God

Proverb #19: There Is No Partnership Between Good and Evil

Proverb #20: A Person Who Ridicules Good Will Become Overtaken by Evil

Proverb #21: The Fear of God Is Not Based on What We Wear

Proverb #22: A Person Who Trusts in God Lacks Nothing

Proverb #23: A Witch Doctor Does Not Cure Himself

Proverb #24: Where There Are Many People, There God Is

Proverb #25: The Veil Spirit of a Person Is a Person

4. Proverbs That Teach Other Life Lessons
Proverb #1: Nights Have Ears

Proverb #2: As Much as You Love Your Husband, You Will Not Want to be Buried Alive With Him

Proverb #3: When a Poor Person Is Told What It Takes to Be Rich...

Proverb #4: The Frog Does Not Come Out in the Daytime for Nothing

Proverb #5: A Traveler Is More Knowledgeable Than an Aged Person

Proverb #6: The Dying Dog Does Not Smell the Bad Odor

Proverb #7: We Never Go Back to Yesterday

Proverb #8: Patience Is King

Proverb #9: You Do Not Tell the Deaf Person That...

Proverb #10: The Hot Soup Is Usually Licked Slowly

Proverb #11: When the Wind Blows, You See the Chicken’s Buttocks

Proverb #12: Truth Is Life

Proverb #13: Soiled Hands Lead to the Oily Mouth

Proverb #14: The Patient Person Eats the Best Part of the Fish

Proverb #15: All Lizards Are Lying on Their Stomachs, and...

Proverb #16: When the Child’s Sore Is Healed, He Tends to Forget the Pain

Proverb #17: A Child Must Crawl Before Walking

Proverb #18: The Look of a Child Determines If You Will Take Food From Him

Proverb #19: It Does Not Matter How Bad the Yam Is; It Is Still...

Proverb #20: When Dried Bones Are Mentioned, Old People Feel Uneasy

Proverb #21: A Person Who Is Already on the Floor Does Not...

Proverb #22: Tomorrow Is Pregnant; No One Knows What It Might Deliver

Proverb #23: There Is No Use for a Dry Porridge

Proverb #24: As the Cow Gets Older, Its Nostrils Get Bigger

Proverb #25: Anything With a Beginning Must Have an End


"A rich, lively, and positive commentary on our global cultures. Obiakor's selection of proverbs and the conceptual framework for the book is, to say the least, powerful. Equally impressive and effective are his brief interpretations and prescriptions for the appropriate use of these proverbs for those involved in education, leadership, and service provision."

From the Foreword by Jacob U. Gordon

"Obiakor poignantly bestows upon us the infinite wisdom of culturally diverse peoples that has been passed down from generation to generation. At the same time, he provides interpretations that challenge us to rethink traditional school leadership and teaching styles in ways that lead to transformed educational practices for all learners—adults and children alike—in an age of accountability and reform."

Stanley C. Trent, Associate Professor of Special Education
University of Virginia

"Obiakor’s interpretations of the proverbs challenge the ordinary mind to shift paradigms and power and expand our imaginations to use real principles to solve real problems. In addition, his interpretations uniquely touch on all facets of life and challenge educators and leaders to do the right thing."

William B. Harvey, Vice President for Equity & Diversity Affairs
University of Virginia

"Teachers and administrators will find it a fine collection useful as a starting point for explorations of other cultures."

The Bookwatch, June 2008
Midwest Book Review

The proverbs required more explanation than the students were able to understand from the explanations given by the author.

Dr Georges Boujakly
Counseling, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
January 26, 2011
Key features
  • This book's proverbs provide deeper philosophical meanings and simplified progressive explications of complex principles, situations, events, and activities within education
  • Written for educators and leaders and for service providers and professionals who work with students and young people
  • Multicultural proverbs are related to education principles in today's complex educational environments
  • Proverbs from Asian, Latino, American Indian and African perspectives—from different continents, countries, tribes, religions, languages, communities 
  • Covers self-responsibilty, collaboration teamwork, spirituality, and other life lessons that teachers can incorporate into their professional and personal lives 
  • Each proverb includes an underlying principle to inspire, improve, enlighten, and encourage all educators in their daily life
  • Foreword is written by Jacob U. Gordon, Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas
  • Afterword is written by William B. Harvey, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, University of Virginia

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