It takes a village

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It takes a village to raise a child is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. The villagers look out for the children. This does not mean an entire village is responsible for raising your children or the children of a crowd.


The proverb has been attributed to African cultures. In 2016, NPR decided to research the origins of the proverb and was unable to pinpoint its origins, though academics said the proverb nevertheless holds the true spirits of some African cultures.[1]

Examples of African societies with proverbs that translate to 'It takes a village …' include the following:[2]

  • In Lunyoro (Bunyoro) there is a proverb that says “Omwana takulila nju emoi,” whose literal translation is “A child does not grow up only in a single home.”
  • In Kihaya (Bahaya) there is a saying, “Omwana taba womoi,” which translates as “A child belongs not to one parent or home.”
  • Kijita (Wajita) has the proverb, “Omwana ni wa bhone,” meaning regardless of a child's biological parents, its upbringing belongs to the community.
  • In Swahili, the proverb “Asiye funzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu” means roughly the same: "Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world."

Books titled It takes a village[edit]


  1. ^ "It Takes A Village To Determine The Origins Of An African Proverb". NPR.
  2. ^ "Proverb: It takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child". Retrieved 2016-10-01.