CHINUA ACHEBE QUOTES

Nigerian writer (1930-2013)

We shall all live. We pray for life, children, a good harvest and happiness. You will have what is good for you and I will have what is good for me. Let the kite perch and let the egret perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Things Fall Apart

38 likes

Tags: happiness, society


When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.

CHINUA ACHEBE, attributed, Chinua Achebe: A Celebration

32 likes

Tags: suffering


As a rule I don't like suffering to no purpose. Suffering should be creative, should give birth to something good and lovely.

CHINUA ACHEBE, A Man of the People

25 likes

Tags: suffering


An angry man is always a stupid man.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

22 likes

Tags: anger, stupidity


I am against people reaping where they have not sown. But we have a saying that if you want to eat a toad you should look for a fat and juicy one.

CHINUA ACHEBE, No Longer at Ease

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You must develop the habit of skepticism, not swallow every piece of superstition you are told by witch-doctors and professors.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

13 likes

Tags: skepticism, superstition


If you only hear one side of the story, you have no understanding at all.

CHINUA ACHEBE, The Atlantic Online, Aug. 2, 2000

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Tags: understanding


A man's life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Things Fall Apart

9 likes

Tags: life, death


Art is man's constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Hopes and Impediments

8 likes

Tags: art, reality


It is as though the ancestors who made language and knew from what bestiality its use rescued them are saying to us: Beware of interfering with its purpose! For when language is seriously interfered with, when it is disjoined from truth, be it from mere incompetence or worse, from malice, horrors can descend again on mankind.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays

8 likes

Tags: language


The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Things Fall Apart

7 likes

Tags: religion


A kinsman in trouble had to be saved, not blamed; anger against a brother was felt in the flesh, not in the bone.

CHINUA ACHEBE, No Longer at Ease

7 likes


To answer oppression with appropriate resistance requires knowledge of two kinds: in the first place, self-knowledge by the victim, which means awareness that oppression exists, an awareness that the victim has fallen from a great height of glory or promise into the present depths; secondly, the victim must know who the enemy is. He must know his oppressor's real name, not an alias, a pseudonym, or a nom de plume!

CHINUA ACHEBE, The Education of a British-Protected Child

6 likes

Tags: oppression, knowledge


Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it's far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do -- it can make us identify with situations and people far away. If it does that, it's a miracle.

CHINUA ACHEBE, The Atlantic Online, Aug. 2, 2000

6 likes

Tags: empathy, literature


The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Things Fall Apart

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While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

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Tags: charity


The original oppression of Woman was based on crude denigration. She caused Man to fall, so she became a scapegoat. No, not a scapegoat which might be blameless but a culprit richly deserving of whatever suffering Man chose thereafter to heap on her. That is Woman in the Book of Genesis. Out here, our ancestors, without the benefit of hearing about the Old Testament, made the very same story differing only in local color. At first the Sky was very close to the Earth. But every evening Woman cut off a piece of the Sky to put in her soup pot, or in another version, she repeatedly banged the top end of her pestle carelessly against the Sky whenever she pounded millet or, as in yet another rendering - so prodigious is Man's inventiveness, she wiped her kitchen hands in the Sky's face. Whatever the detail of Woman's provocation, the Sky moved away in anger, and God with it.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

5 likes

Tags: oppression, women


Writers don't give prescriptions. They give headaches!

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

5 likes

Tags: writing


The reality of today, different as it is from the reality of my society one hundred years ago, is and can be important if we have the energy and the inclination to challenge it, to go out and engage with its peculiarities, with the things that we do not understand. The real danger is the tendency to retreat into the obvious, the tendency to be frightened by the richness of the world and to clutch what we always have understood.

CHINUA ACHEBE, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra

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Tags: reality


Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.

CHINUA ACHEBE, Anthills of the Savannah

4 likes

Tags: charity