How the Netflix Series “King of Boys” Teaches Us to Use African Proverbs

Tammy Peterside
3 min readSep 19, 2021
Cover Image of King of Boys — The Return of the King
Image from IMDB

Proverbs have always been an integral part of African Literature, offering a glimpse of a culture's ways and thought processes. I imagine the griots of old, peppering oral tradition with proverbs in a bid to cause introspection. These proverbs have carried on generations later and show up in other ways outside of oral tradition. The original intent, however, has been preserved.

If you follow the Nollywood film industry, you will be familiar with the latest sequel of the 2018 political drama directed by Kemi Adetiba. If not, please crawl out from under the rock in which you reside and check it out. I am personally biased towards Kemi for her great cinematography in her productions and her intentionality in highlighting strong female lead characters; see her web series, King Women, for further reference. King of boys was no less. Yes, it had its shortcomings **cough cough* why was everyone hyping up Ade Tiger? and why did the dates on the graves of her children say they died in 2015 but were alive in 2018?

Shortcomings aside, what stood out to me the most was the infusion of African proverbs. Alhaja Salami, the show's main character, always had a proverb at the tip of her tongue for whatever situation she found herself in. Most of the proverbs were originally said in Yoruba. I appreciate that proper care was taken in the translations of these proverbs and the subtitles in general. I took the liberty of writing them down because they say children should learn to take notes when an elder speaks. Here are some things we can learn on how to use African Proverbs.

Use it in speeches when making a grand entry.

When making a speech, start with an African proverb to show your audience that you are wise and learned. Cause your audience to be so lost in deciphering the proverb's meaning that they do not pay attention to the rest of your speech. Better yet, end with an African proverb such that if for some reason they had utterly zoned out throughout your speech/presentation, your wise ending words would leave a lasting impression.

The water a fish swims in is the same water that cooks it

The rain has forced us to house the chicken and the pigeon together

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Tammy Peterside

Data Enthusiast | Creative Storyteller | Mental Health Advocate