Perhaps, I never heard it either. My guess would be that it's a translation of an Asante, or Ghanian, or at least northwest-African proverb into English, as quoted by Baden-Powell and perhaps others of British colonial rule in Africa.
Here's Baden-Powell quoting it in 1896 as a 'West Coast' motto: http://www.pinetreeweb.com/bp-prempeh-00.htm
. By west coast, I would presume he's talking about northwest Africa, given the content of the page. Prempeh was a ruler of Ghana, not quite on the west coast by current political boundaries, and B-P could've learned the expression from further west, or perhaps the area occupied by the Asantes was different then.
This kind of expression wouldn't have penetrated into AE unless popularized quite a bit in BE literature or news of the times, and then slowly filtered into AE. There are probably others, but the only example that occurs to me of this type at the moment that is somewhat known in the US is, 'Dr. Livingstone, I presume?'