10 Popular Liberian Adages and Their Meanings

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Proverbs and other popular adages in African culture are meant to guide the societies and all its generations, and Liberia is no exception. Most of these Liberian adages are introduced to the children at very young ages, with no direct linkage to their origins. They were the governing laws and moral compasses of the people before present-day laws were created, and in some instances, still are. Although the society Liberia finds itself intertwined with today isn’t largely governed by these proverbs or adages, many people still turn to them for wisdom, guidance, and direction. Continue reading below for 10 adages popular in Liberian societies, and what they mean to us here at the Koloqua Dialogues.


10 Popular Liberian Adages and their Meanings


Looking up, the tallest and the shortest person will see the sky at the same time.

No matter how big any person, brand, entity is, we all have the same sky above us, which means none of us is big at all. There exists a power much greater than us all, and no matter where life takes us, we must always remember that.

Liberian adage
Photo by: Meskora for The Koloqua Dialogues

Teeth and tongue can fight but they will never stop working together to eat.

When there is a goal larger than all who are bickering amongst themselves, the goal becomes lost in the bickering. If teeth keeps biting the tongue, teeth hurts itself because the tongue won’t be suitable to eat. Likewise, if the tongue stays outside of the mouth to avoid the teeth, the mouth won’t function properly. And so, in the end, in order for both teeth and tongue to be happy and eat all the food they want, it is a must that they work in cohesion toward the common goal so they can both eat. Apply as you see fit to situations in your life.


The baby that says their mom will not sleep, also will not sleep.

Everyone who has taken care of a child knows that if that child is up all night, so are you. As such, in our lives, we cannot make noise about something and abandon that thing after the noise has started. Whatever we decide to draw attention to, we must be prepared to face the consequences or stick with it until it is resolved.

Liberian adage
Photo by: Meskora for The Koloqua Dialogues

Not because you know how to cry means you must be at every funeral.

In short, learn how to pick your battles, as not every situation requires your voice or your opinion.


If you haul rope, rope will haul bush.

Be wary of the single rope you see lying in the forest if you cannot see the end. It is likely that the rope is attached to something larger. This Liberian adage is used mostly in political or gossip-charged situations. If you think you are outing someone on a specific issue or situation, it is likely that the person will drag others out with them. Proceed with caution and carefully thought intent.


One tree can’t full a forest.

Sometimes we want to, and feel we can do it all alone. However, this Liberian adage tells us that no one person can do it all alone. In fact, every goal can be better achieved with the support of others, as every perspective and input brings something to the larger picture.

Liberian adage
Photo by: Meskora for The Koloqua Dialogues

Fly was living before dog ear cut

When a dog ear cuts, flies sit on it and lay their eggs; making the sore to fester even longer than it should. Although, if the dog’s ear never cuts, flies will still exist. The fly does not need the dog’s sore to exist, but the dog’s sore does help the fly lay its eggs. As such, this Liberian adage tells us to celebrate our independence, while understanding that there are still times we may need the assistance of others.


Easy water runs deep

This Liberian adage is commonly used in a descriptive manner, in reference to people and their personalities. Some rivers and lakes may appear still, but don’t be fooled and jump into it if you are not a skilled swimmer. The same applies to people who may appear easygoing, meanwhile they harbor all their secrets and emotions within.

Liberian adage
Photo by: Meskora for The Koloqua Dialogues

If the home doesn’t sell you, the streets won’t buy you.

This is a Liberian adage very popular among parents, or when talking about unruly behavior from people. African cultures are big on the morals and values one learns in their homes, but if those values seem to be lacking when a person is faced with situations outside of the home, it is the streets that will have to then teach them those lessons. You do not want you or your child to be taught morals from the streets, so it is important to pay attention to the ones within the home.


99 days for rogue, one day for master

You may think you are witty and a quick thinker who outsmarts everyone in thievery, however, with every time you steal, the more comfortable you become, and the sloppier you become. Whatever that thievery is, it will eventually catch up with you, and on the 100th day, it shall be brought to light. Be wary of getting comfortable in thievery.


And just like that, 10 popular adages that has been passed on through generations of Liberian societies around the world. We have shared with you what we learned from them, so take from it all what you may and apply it to your lives. Until next time!

-Your Koloqua Kueen

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