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

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"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.

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