In most African societies, african riddles and jokes are a form of art. They are simple and elegant ways to communicate a lot of meaning in few words.
Riddles play an important role in the traditions of African speech and conversation. Like proverbs, African riddles are brief and based on observations of nature. However, with riddles, the listener is expected to guess the answer to a question or the meaning of a statement.
Three people stand near a river they have to ford. The first one, after a closer look around, crosses it. The second one looks at the riverbank and at the water, but does not cross it. The third one does not see the river and does not cross it. Who are the three?
The one who saw the river and crossed it was a woman. The one who saw the riverbank and the water but did not cross it is the child the mother carries on her shoulders. The one who has seen nothing is the baby the woman carries in her womb.
The two of us cross the wilderness without talking to each other.
I am the beginning of sorrow, and the end of sickness. You cannot express happiness without me, yet I am in the midst of crosses. I am always in risk, yet never in danger. You may find me in the sun, but I am never out of darkness. What am I?
Discovered in Africa, I spread like a tide, to become a hot staple known the world wide. A necessity to some, a treasure to many, I’m best enjoyed among pleasant company. Some like me hot and some like me cold. Some prefer mild, others only bold. Some take me straight, while some like to savor my essence to which has been added a flavor. So put down your cares and sit awhile with me; I’ll send you back refreshed and full of energy. What am I?