Who said: "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."

This is an old African proverb. There are many others ranging from the profound to the frankly bizarre, including:

  • If you refuse the elder's advice you will walk the whole day. (Tanzania).
  • If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (Ghana).
  • Wherever the heart is, the feet don’t hesitate to go. (Togo).
  • When the monkey sees a nice fruit in the tree that can’t be grasped, then the monkey says the fruit is rotten. (Congo).
  • The ox doesn’t boast about its strength in front of the elephant.
  • When elephants fight, the grass always is the one that suffers. (Swahili).
  • Swim across the river before being rude to the crocodile.
  • If one had nothing to say, one had better keep silent.
  • It isn’t because it is hard that one doesn’t dare, but since one doesn’t dare it becomes hard.
  • Everything has an end, except a banana which has two of them. (Bambara/Mali).
  • He who swallows a coconut has confidence in his anus!

The country of origin is likely just one of the countries where a particular expression can be found - no doubt many of them are widely spread with multiple variations.

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  129Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.