15 proverbs and philosophies that will help us control our narrative

In this blog post, I share my favourite 15 proverbs and philosophies that I feel would help us take control of our narrative and future. It is an excerpt from my upcoming motivational and self help book with working title “A CLARION CALL FOR AFRICANS: THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM OTHERS TO GROW OUR COMMUNITIES“.

Whilst I refer to Africans in the book, I believe that the lessons in the book is applicable to each and everyone of us as human beings.

15 proverbs and philosophies that will help us control our narrative

WHAT Africans, as individuals, need to do to control their narrative and their future

I was watching a Chinese drama sometime ago and heard a character say:

those who wish to seek to advocate morality for the world, should first govern one’s country. those who seek to govern one’s country should first manage one’s household. those who wish to govern one’s household should first rectify one’s character, rectify the thoughts and purify one’s heart. Expand one’s knowledge before peace could befall the state. A gentleman’s heart knows no limits, his patience is boundless and vast. Question of the day, what defines a gentleman?

What he said made so much sense to me that I had to make note of it. In fact, it became the subject of discussion between a friend and myself.

As Africans, we are quick to condemn our leaders without first working on ourselves as individuals. What the teacher said in the drama beggar’s the question, should we be working on ourselves as individuals, to allow us grow sufficiently to bring about change in our communities?

I also remember maybe 10+ years ago watching an interview with a man from Hong Kong. The key point that I took away from that interview was when he said “Asia knows more about Africa than Africa knows more about Asia!” I could not imagine a more truthful statement at that point.

So, I would like to ask you, how much do you really know about another country that is over and above what the media tells you?

In our schools today, especially in Africa, how much African history and world history is being taught to our children other than the usual Isaac Mungo Park discovered the River Niger?

Do you see the point I am trying to make here? Should you spend more time educating ourselves about our true history and the history about other nations? How can we trade with other nations if we do not understand them?

There’s a saying that I have heard a few times along the lines of “know thyself and know thy enemy!” Do you understand what this means?


Some of them, I made up myself. Do you know what they mean? Can you think of a situation where they apply to your life?

  1. Winning a battle does not mean you won the war
    1. I think this may be hard for some people to comprehend. I find that these days, a lot of people want to win every single battle, we right every time without looking at the bigger picture
  2. A word is enough for the wise
    1. There are some issues that people do not have to drum into your ears every single day for you to see the importance of what the person is saying.
    2. For instance, if you are told to not spend every single penny of your income, if your parents are not multimillionaires but you refuse to, you have only yourself to blame if you do not have any savings for a rainy day
  3. There are some lessons in life we HAVE to learn. HOW we choose to learn it, is up to us. We can either learn that lesson the easy way or the hard way. But one thing is for certain, that lesson will be learned – Segilola Salami
    1. For instance, when my daughter was a toddler I asked her to not touch our heated towel rail. When my back was turned, she touched it and the heat shocked her. I turned and saw the shocked expression on her face. She couldn’t even cry. I smiled to myself. She chose to find out the hard way. So if someone tells us something based on their experience and we choose to ignore them. As long as that is a lesson we have to learn, we would learn it
  4. Heaven helps those who help themselves
    1. I think this is pretty self-explanatory – you cannot pray to whatever you believe in without doing the work.
    2. That’s why somewhere in the bible it says – faith without works is dead
  5. No matter how much someone hurts you, speak out words of harm to that person. Remember, what goes around, comes around. Even the bible asks Christians to pray for their enemies
  6. This perfectly leads to – Whatever you wish for someone will come back to you
    1. My favourite prayer/affirmation – whoever’s presence in my life that is not for my good, whoever’s presence in my life will cause chaos, cause unhappiness, take away my peace of mind, my God, my Creator, please remove that person from my life and the life of my family
    2. My Creator, I thank you for removing anything that is in me, around me, in my home, around my home, in my child, around my child, that steals our peace of mind, that does not serve us for our benefit
    3. My Creator, anywhere that I or family have been tied down to, nailed down to, imprisoned, physically or spiritually, I thank you for setting us free
    4. My Creator, any debt that I have, physical or spiritual debt, I thank you for clearing that debt
    5. My Creator, any debt that my father or my mother has, physical debt, spiritual debt, I thank you for clearing that debt
  7. I am not responsible for the sins of my father, I am not responsible for the sins of my mother
    1. There are somethings that my parents have done that made me wonder if I am paying for their sins. So I affirm that I don’t want to bear the responsibility for their sins even if it is only in my imagination
  8. My child is not responsible for the sins of her father, my child is not responsible for the sins of her mother
    1. Even if there is a negligible chance of this happening, I don’t want my child to be responsible for any wrongs that I have committed in my lifetime
  9. If you keep chasing a goat, once it reaches a dead end, it would turn around and head butt you
    1. No matter how strong you think you are, if you keep chasing after someone, eventually, the person would turn around and headbutt you if they feel that they have nowhere else to turn
  10. Your dream must be bigger than your environment – I saw this with my aloe vera plant. I didn’t transplant it from its nursery pot and it did not grow bigger than its baby size.
  11. This next saying is from a Yoruba movie, the village head is called Baale (father of the land). He was being a bully, so the villagers said to him “eyi ni Ba awa ni Le” meaning “you are the father, we are the land”
    1. How can you be a father of a community without the community?
    2. You can only lead if people agree for you to lead them
    3. Our leaders are only as powerful as the masses allow them to be
  12. This is a Yoruba saying “kokoro to’n je efo, lara efo lo wa”. This means “the insect that eats a leaf is on the leaf”
    1. The English version of this is “it is those who are closest to us that do us the most harm”
  13. In Nigeria, we have a lot of open air markets. The markets are usually noisy because lots of people are haggling. That’s why we have this saying: when you go to a market, you do not focus on the noise in the market, you focus on what you go there to do.
    1. If I am not mistaken, there’s a similar saying in the bible about someone that visited someone to borrow some money. He met them eating and joined them to eat. A visitor arrived and borrowed some money. After this person had finished eating, he asked his host to lend him some money and the host told him that it was in his presence that he borrowed someone else the last money he had
    2. That’s why it is important to focus on what you are after and do not get distracted with what someone else is doing
  14. You are only as strong as your weakest link
    1. I think this saying is pretty self-explanatory. A community is only as strong as its weakest link
  15. There is no smoke without any fire. There is always an element of truth in most situations. Heck, even a broken clock is right twice a day
  16. Whilst watching a Chinese drama, a woman said something about Confucius that I had not heard before, so I wrote it down for future reference. In the drama, the woman said “Confucius compared women to villains, so as ladies, all the more we should always remind ourselves of the way of the gentleman”
    1. When I heard what the woman said, it reminded me of something similar that I had heard. That men do not doubt themselves when they charge what they are worth for their services.
    2. In the past, I used to doubt myself as a freelance writer. I would second guess myself wondering if anyone would pay me what I was really worth. I had had people tell me that they were doing me a favour in offering me a job.
    3. Since I started thinking of myself as a man when I charge my rates, the imposter syndrome that I used to feel disappeared. In fact, I think my energy and vibrations changed that I stopped receiving emails from people telling me that my charges were too much.
    4. When it comes to making money, more women need to think the way a man would

Well that’s 16 but who’s counting eh?!


Before we get into the business at hand (pun intended), do you know why we go to school?

We are told to:

  1. Go to school, study hard so we can get a job
  2. Work hard at our jobs so we get promoted then we can get a mortgage for a house
  3. Continue to work hard so that we can pay off our mortgage early, own our home and then be free to do whatever we want.



If you have found this blog post on “15 proverbs and philosophies that will help us control our narrative” beneficial, please make a donation to support my podcast The Segilola Salami via PayPal or order your own copy of my new book “A CLARION CALL FOR AFRICANS: THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM OTHERS TO GROW OUR COMMUNITIES” NOW

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