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Chinua Achebe Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Chinua Achebe.

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Chinua Achebe Quotes 383733

Nigeria has had a complicated colonial history. My work has examined that part of our story extensively. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 196319

It's true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother's hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that mother is supreme. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 849725

A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 795891

Nations enshrine mediocrity as their modus operandi, and create the fertile ground for the rise of tyrants and other base elements of the society, by silently assenting to the dismantling of systems of excellence because they do not immediately benefit one specific ethnic, racial, political, or special-interest group. That, in my humble opinion, is precisely where Nigeria finds itself today! — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1150109

The air, which had been stretched taut with excitement, relaxed again. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1666195

A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1718149

With unparalleled rapidity, the Igbos advanced fastest in the shortest period of time of all Nigeria's ethnic groups. Like the Jews, to whom they have frequently been likened, they progressed despite being a minority in the country, filling the ranks of the nation's educated, prosperous upper classes. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1353585

The impatient idealist says: 'Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.' But such a place does not exist. We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 493478

A coward may cover the ground with his words but when the time comes to fight he runs away. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 418116

What a man does not know is greater than he. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1433732

People go to Africa and confirm what they already have in their heads and so they fail to see what is there in front of them. This is what people have come to expect. Its not viewed as a serious continent. Its a place of strange, bizarre and illogical things, where people dont do what common sense demands. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 565609

Procrastination is a lazy man's apology. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1848780

If ever a man deserved his success, that man was Okonkwo. At an early age he had achieved fame as the greatest wrestler in all the land. That was not luck. At the most one could say that his chi or personal god was good. But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man say yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed. And not only his chi but his clan too, because it judged a man by the work of his hands. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 942952

Privilege, you see, is one of the great adversaries of the imagination; it spreads a thick layer of adipose tissue over our sensitivity. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1177513

Become familiar with your home, but know also about your neighbors. The young man who never went anywhere thinks his mother is the greatest cook. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2251829

The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1049860

Four years in England had filled Obi with a longing to be back in Umuofia. This feeling was sometimes so strong that he found himself feeling ashamed of studying English for his degree. He spoke Ibo whenever he had the least opportunity of doing so. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to find another Ibo-speaking student in a London bus. But when he had to speak in English with a Nigerian student from another tribe he lowered his voice. It was humiliating to have to speak to one's countryman in a foreign language, especially in the presence of the proud owners of that language. They would naturally assume that one had no language of one's own. He wished they were here today to see. Let them come to Umuofia now and listen to the talk of men who made a great art of conversation. Let them come and see men and women and children who knew how to live, whose joy of life had not yet been killed by those who claimed to teach other nations how to live. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 703055

People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 502624

At the end of the thirty-month war Biafra was a vast smoldering rubble. The head count at the end of the war was perhaps three million dead, which was approximately 20 percent of the entire population. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 182847

Unfortunately, oppression does not automatically produce only meaningful struggle. It has the ability to call into being a wide range of responses between partial acceptance and violent rebellion. In between you can have, for instance, a vague, unfocused dissatisfaction; or, worst of all, savage infighting among the oppressed, a fierce love-hate entanglement with one another like crabs inside the fisherman's bucket, which ensures that no crab gets away. This is a serious issue for African-American deliberation.
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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1360221

And theories are no more than fictions which help us to make sense of experience and which are subject to disconfirmation when their explanations are no longer adequate. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1640019

Do not be in a hurry to rush into the pleasures of the world like the young antelope who danced herself lame when the main dance was yet to come. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1505413

Writing has always been a serious business for me. I felt it was a moral obligation. A major concern of the time was the absence of the African voice. Being part of that dialogue meant not only sitting at the table but effectively telling the African story from an African perspective - in full earshot of the world. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1890630

A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them? — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1563169

By the end of World War II Great Britain was financially and politically exhausted. This weakness was exploited by Mohandas Gandhi and his cohorts in India during their own struggle against British rule. Nigerian veterans from different theaters of the war had acquired certain skills - important military expertise in organization, movement, strategy, and combat - during their service to the king. Another proficiency that came naturally to this group was the skill of protest, which was quickly absorbed by the Nigerian nationalists. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1810619

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 472202

Ife onye metalu' ['what a man commits'] - a statement unclear and menacing in its very inconclusiveness. What a man commits ... Follows him? Comes back to take its toll? Was that all? No, that was only part of it ... The real burden of that cryptic scripture seemed to turn the matter right around. Whatever we see following a man, whatever fate comes to take its revenge on him, can only be what that man in some way or another, in a previous life if not in this, has committed. That was it! So those three words wrapped in an archaic tongue and tucked away at the tail of the bus turn out to be the opening segment of a full-blooded heathen antiphony offering a primitive and quite deadly exposition of suffering. The guilty suffers; the sufferer is guilty. As for the righteous, those whose arms are straight, they will always prosper! — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 174737

A Conrad student informed me in Scotland that Africa is merely a setting for the disintegration of the mind of Mr. Kurtz.
Which is partly the point. Africa as setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril. Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break-up of one petty European mind? But that is not even the point. The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 396526

When the British came to Ibo land, for instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, and defeated the men in pitched battles in different places, and set up their administrations, the men surrendered. And it was the women who led the first revolt. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 530288

In America there is really very little knowledge of the literature of the rest of the world. Of the literature of Latin America, yes, But that's not all that different in inspiration from that of America, or of Europe. One must go further. You don't even have to go too far in terms of geography - you can start with the Native Americans and listen to their poetry. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 481120

My weapon is literature
Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 236942

The Igbo culture, being receptive to change, individualistic, and highly competitive, gave the Igbo man an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots in securing credentials for advancement in Nigerian colonial society. Unlike the Hausa/Fulani he was unhindered by a wary religion, and unlike the Yoruba he was unhampered by traditional hierarchies. This kind of creature, fearing no god or man, was custom-made to grasp the opportunities, such as they were, of the white man's dispensations. And — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 81000

This is not pessimism but rather casting a cold eye on things. It is only one man's story, and I think that things will go better, but difficulties exist and nothing is served by hiding them under a poetic veil or under a lyricism of the past. I am against slogans. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 271436

To me, being an intellectual doesn't mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 963164

Who ever planted an iroko tree - the greatest tree in the forest? You may collect all the iroko seeds in the world, open the soil and put them there. It will be in vain. The great tree chooses where to grow and we find it there, so it is with greatness in men. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 652105

Even the village rain-maker no longer claimed to be able to intervene. He could not stop the rain now, just as he would not attempt to start it in the heart of the dry season, without serious danger to his own health. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1585562

If the clan did not exact punishment for an offense against the great goddess, her wrath was loosed on all the land and not just on the offender. As the elders said, if one finger brought oil it soiled all the others. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 502333

The fly that no one to advise it follows the corpse into the grave. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 880352

The emperor would prefer the poet to keep away from politics, the emperor's domain, so that he can manage things the way he likes. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 79452

Children are young, but they're not naive. And they're honest. They're not going to keep wide awake if the story is boring. When they get excited you can see it in their eyes. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 123849

What kind of power was it if it would never be used? — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 148221

There is no story that is not true, [ ... ] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 225618

And how is my daughter, Ezinma?" "She has been very well for some time now. Perhaps she has come to stay." "I think she has. How old is she now?" "She is about ten years old." "I think she will stay. They usually stay if they do not die before the age of six." "I pray she stays," said Ekwefi with a heavy sigh. The — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 342263

As they stood there together, Ekwefi's mind went back to the days when they were young. She had married Anene because OKonkwo was too poor then to marry. Two years after her marriage to Anene she could bear it no longer and she ran away to Okonkwo. It had been early in the morning. The moon was shining. She was going to the stream to fetch water. Okonkwo's house was on the way to the stream. She went in and knocked at his door and he came out. Even in those days he was not a man of many words. He just carried her into his bed and in the darkness began to feel around her waist for the loose end of her cloth. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 386224

There is a moral obligation, I think, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 430323

With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife. But in spite of these disadvantages, he had begun even in his father's lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future. It was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father's contemptible life and shameful death. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 462550

Contradictions if well understood and managed can spark off the fires of invention. Orthodoxy whether of the right or of the left is the graveyard of creativity. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 497906

The triumph of the written word is often attained when the writer achieves union and trust with the reader, who then becomes ready to be drawn into unfamiliar territory, walking in borrowed literary shoes so to speak, toward a deeper understanding of self or society, or of foreign peoples, cultures, and situations. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 520696

An angry man is always a stupid man. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 581050

Once a novel gets going and I know it is viable, I don't then worry about plot or themes. These things will come in almost automatically because the characters are now pulling the story. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 607353

If one finger brings oil it soils the others. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 628733

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 808215

[Would] a sensible man spit out the juicy morsel that good fortune put in his mouth? — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 850568

The most awful thing about power is not that it corrupts absolutely but that it makes people so utterly boring, so predictable. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 867404

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 957750

- The Igbo are a very democratic people. The Igbo people expressed a strong antimonarchy sentiment - Ezebuilo - which literally means, a king is an enemy. Their culture illustrates a clear-cut opposition to kings, because, I think, the Igbo people had seen what the uncontrolled power of kings could do. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 986414

It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1024799

We do not ask for wealth because he that has health and children will also have wealth. We do not pray to have money but to have more kinsmen. We are better than animals because we have kinsmen. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, a man asks his kinsman to scratch him. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1035894

In such a regime, I say, you died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest-without asking to be paid. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1068378

Whatever music you beat on your drum there is somebody who can dance to it. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1094817

Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1117031

Nobody can teach me who I am. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1119193

The foreign correspondent is frequently the only means of getting an important story told, or of drawing the world's attention to disasters in the making or being covered up. Such an important role is risky in more ways than one. It can expose the correspondent to actual physical danger; but there is also the moral danger of indulging in sensationalism and dehumanizing the sufferer. This danger immediately raises the question of the character and attitude of the correspondent, because the same qualities of mind which in the past separated a Conrad from a Livingstone, or a Gainsborough from the anonymous painter of Francis Williams, are still present and active in the world today. Perhaps this difference can best be put in one phrase: the presence or absence of respect for the human person. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1255049

When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1352853

If I hold her hand she says, 'Don't touch!'
If I hold her foot she says 'Don't touch!'
But when I hold her waist-beads she pretends not to know. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1399745

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1418477

One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1582214

The Commissioner went away, taking three or four of the soldiers with him. In the many years in which he had toiled to bring civilization to different parts of Africa he had learned a number of things. One of them was that a District Commissioner must never attend to such undignified details s cutting a hanged man from a tree. Such attention would give the natives a poor opinion of him. In the book which he planned to write he would stress that point. As he walked back to the court he thought about that book. Every day brought him some new material. The story of the man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter ob him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1590003

An artist, in my understanding of the word, should side with the people against the Emperor that oppresses his or her people. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1631596

When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1641030

A snake was never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1647585

I do not know how to thank you.'
'I can tell you,' said Obierika. 'Kill one of your sons for me.'
'That will not be enough,' said Okonkwo.
'Then kill yourself,' said Obierika. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1664214

I feel that there has to be a purpose to what we do. If there was no hope at all, we should just sleep or drink and wait for death. But we don't want to do that. And why? I think something tells us that we should struggle. We don't really know why we should struggle, but we do, because we think it's better than sitting down and waiting for calamity. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1681453

The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1691528

That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1699890

There was another epidemic that was not talked about much, a silent scourge - the explosion of mental illness: major depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, manic-depression, personality disorders, grief response, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, etc. - on a scale none of us had ever witnessed. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1727202

Diversity is not an abnormality but the very reality of our planet. The human world manifests the same reality and will not seek our permission to celebrate itself in the magnificence of its endless varieties. Civility is a sensible attribute in this kind of world we have; narrowness of heart and mind is not. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1742441

the clock is ticking — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1783749

The writer cannot expect to be excused from the task of re-education and re-generation that must be done. In fact, he should march right in front. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1792199

And by hearing all the stories we will find points of contact and communication, and the world story, the Great Story, will have a chance to develop. That's the only precaution I would suggest - that we not rush into announcing the arrival of this international, this great world story, based simply on our knowledge of one or a few traditions. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1865035

As our fathers said, you can tell a ripe corn by its look. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1866855

The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1894861

Each of my books is different. Deliberately ... I wanted to create my society, my people, in their fullness. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1899928

I have so many ideas; there are so many things that need to be done, so many possibilities, you know; one is terribly excited, but at the same time, you're almost confused, because you don't know where to begin. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1905145

At the most one could say that his chi or ... personal god was good. But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly; so his chi agreed. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1956114

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1958157

A child cannot pay for its mother's milk. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1968445

No man however great is greater than his people — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1990663

My position is that serious and good art has always existed to help, to serve, humanity. Not to indict. I don't see how art can be called art if its purpose is to frustrate humanity. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 1999914

She pouted her lips like a gun in my face. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2035222

After a war life catches desperately at passing hints of normalcy like vines entwining a hollow twig. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2048679

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

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2097403

The language of young men is pull down and destroy; but an old man speaks of conciliation. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2113786

Paradoxically, a saint like [Albert] Schweitzer can give one a lot more trouble than King Leopold II, villain of unmitigated guilt, because along with doing good and saving African lives Schweitzer also managed to announce that the African was indeed his brother, but only his junior brother. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2129440

Today we have a system where only those individuals with the means of capital and who can both pay the exorbitant application fee and fund a political campaign can vie for the presidency. It would not surprise any close observer to discover that in this inane system, the same unsavory characters who have destroyed the country and looted the treasury and the nation blind are the ones able to run for the presidency! — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2167384

When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so. [ ... ] But I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice. And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. A man can now leave his father and his brothers. He can curse the gods of his fathers and his ancestors, like a hunter's dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master. I fear for you; I fear for the clan. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2176254

Ghana and Nigeria resented each other and competed for supremacy in every sphere - politics, academia, sports, you name it. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2218563

Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit
in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2220145

When we are comfortable and inattentive, we run the risk of committing grave injustices absentmindedly. — Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe Quotes 2241176

Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. He — Chinua Achebe