Particularly well represented are proverbs from the Bantu area especially the Southern Bantu ; the Congo and West Africa have also provided many extensive collections. This hinting at a general or abstract idea through one concrete case, either direct or itself metaphorical, is a common proverbial form throughout the continent.
Though proverbs can occur in very many different kinds of contexts, they seem to be particularly important in situations where there is both conflict and, at the same time, some obligation that this conflict should not take on too open and personal a form.
Some of these might be classed as juridical axioms and maxims, but many in fact succeed just because the attempt at reconciliation is oblique and through an analogy rather than a straightforward injunction. For more information on choosing credible sources for your paper, check out this blog post.
What hooks you? As well, proverbs frequently appear in songs and poems.
However, it is particularly true of proverbs whose use and application depends so crucially on their context that no full understanding can be reached without some knowledge of the occasions and purposes of their actual use.
But proverbs are in practice cited in a whole variety of situations, and only in some of them does there seem to be any intentionally educational purpose.
In this form proverbs about animals and birds are very common indeed perhaps particularly in the Bantu areas ; here, as in the tales about animals and in certain praise names, a comment is often being made about human life and action through reference to non-human activity.
In addition, in a non-literate society instruction through proverbs provides a means for relatively formal education and transmission of cultural traditions. A number of these have been recorded among the Nyanja, for whom the court is the place for the use of proverbial wit and wisdom and who often refer to such cases in metaphors drawn from hunting.