Chinua Achebe Quotes

Chinua Achebe, the distinguished Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic, holds a central role in the realm of modern African literature. His inaugural novel and masterpiece, “Things Fall Apart,” assumes a crucial position in African literary heritage, standing as the most extensively examined, translated, and read African novel to this day. Wikipedia

“In fact, I thought that Christianity was very a good and a very valuable thing for us. But after a while, I began to feel that the story that I was told about this religion wasn’t perhaps completely whole, that something was left out.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“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

“When a new saying gets to the land of empty men, they lose their heads over it.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? 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

“When a man is at peace with his gods and ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Looking at a king’s mouth, ′ said an old man, ’one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breast.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“In dealing with a man who thinks you are a fool, it is good sometimes to remind him that you know what he knows but have chosen to appear foolish for the sake of peace.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“If one finger brings oil it soils the others.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

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

“A fox must be chased away first; after that the hen might be warned against wandering into the bush.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“My weapon is literature.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The air, which had been stretched taut with excitement, relaxed again.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Women and music should not be dated.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too – If one says no to the other, let his wing break.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A man of worth never gets up to unsay what he said yesterday.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“An angry man is always a stupid man.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“It is difficult to express the reality of Ibo society in classical English.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Nigeria is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“No man however great is greater than his people.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“People from different parts of the world can respond to the same story if it says something to them about their own history and their own experience.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“It is praiseworthy to be brave and fearless, but sometimes it is better to be a coward. We often stand in the compound of a coward to point at the ruins where a brave man used to live.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When a mad man walks naked, it is his kinsmen who feel shame, not himself.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“He who brings kola brings life.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

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

“The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A man who lived on the banks of the Niger should not wash his hands with spittle.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A boy sent by his father to steal does not go stealthily but breaks the door with his feet.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“You do not know me,’ said Tortoise. ‘I am a changed man. I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“He who fights for a ne’er-do-well has nothing to show for it except a head covered in earth and grime.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When there is a big tree small ones climb on its back to reach the sun.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

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

“We have heard stories about white men who make the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas, but no one thought the stories were true.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“There was a saying in Umuofia that as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“If a child washed his hands, he could eat with kings.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A man to whom you do a favor will not understand if you say nothing, make no noise, just walk away. You may cause more trouble by refusing a bribe than by accepting it.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Mr. Brown had thought of nothing but numbers. He should have known that the kingdom of God did not depend on large crowds. Our Lord Himself stressed the importance of fewness. Narrow is the way and few the number. To fill the Lord’s holy temple with an idolatrous crowd clamoring for signs was a folly of everlasting consequence. Our Lord used the whip only once in His life – to drive the crowd away from His church.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“The lizard that jumped from a high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no-one else did.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When brothers fight to death a stranger inherit their father’s estate.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The problem with leaderless uprisings taking over is that you don’t always know what you get at the other end. If you are not careful you could replace a bad government with one much worse!” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Every lizard lies on its belly, so we cannot tell which has a belly-ache.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“Real tragedy is never resolved. It goes on hopelessly for ever.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

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

“What is modesty but inverted pride?” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Nobody can teach me who I am.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“Living fire begets cold, impotent ash.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The writer cannot expect to be excused from the task of reeducation and regeneration that must be done. In fact, he should march right in front.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“They say a man is like a funeral ram which must take whatever beating comes to it without opening its mouth; only the silent tremor of pain down its body tells of its suffering.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When we hear a house has fallen do we ask if the ceiling fell with it?” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A disease that has never been seen before cannot be cured with every-day herbs.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Don’t disparage the day that still has an hour of light in its hand.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own. If you don’t like what somebody says, say what it is you don’t like.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“I’ve had trouble now and again in Nigeria because I have spoken up about the mistreatment of factions in the country because of difference in religion. These are things we should put behind us.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Have you not heard that when two brothers fight a stranger reaps the harvest?” ~ Chinua Achebe

“An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Men have learned to shoot without missing their mark and I have learned to fly without perching on a twig.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Those whose kernels were cracked by benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“There is no story that is not true.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A debt may get mouldy, but it never decays.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A chief does not hurry.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“I feel that the English language will be able to carry the weight of my African experience. But it will have to be a new English, still in full communion with its ancestral home but altered to suit new African surroundings.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Dancing is very important nowadays. No girl will look at you if you can’t dance.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“We do not seek to hurt any man, but if any man seeks to hurt us may he break his neck.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The inquisitive monkey gets a bullet in the face.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“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

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

“The women are, of course, the biggest single group of oppressed people in the world and, if we are to believe the Book of Genesis, the very oldest.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“Writers don’t give prescriptions. They give headaches!” ~ Chinua Achebe

“To show affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When a coward sees a man he can beat he becomes hungry for a fight.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: ‘He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.’” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When old people speak it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something which you do not see.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“My parents were early converts to Christianity in my part of Nigeria. They were not just converts; my father was an evangelist, a religious teacher. He and my mother traveled for thirty-five years to different parts of Igboland, spreading the gospel.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“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

“Literature, whether handed down by word or mouth or in print, gives us a second handle on reality.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“If we have any role at all, I think it’s the role of optimism, not blind or stupid optimism, but the kind which is meaningful, one that is rather close to that notion of the world which is not perfect, but which can be improved. In other words, we don’t just sit and hope that things will work out; we have a role to play to make that come about.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Almost nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane. H. P. LOVECRAFT, attributed, Telling It Like It Is Dancing is very important nowadays. No girl will look at you if you can’t dance.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

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

“In my definition I am a protest writer, with restraint.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When I began going to school and learned to read, I encountered stories of other people and other lands.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A goat does not eat into a hen’s stomach no matter how friendly the two may be.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Wisdom is like a goatskin bag; every man carries his own.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A person who has not secured a place on the floor should not begin to look for a mat.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

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

“A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“As long as one people sit on another and are deaf to their cry, so long will understanding and peace elude all of us.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement; it is this.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Do you blame a vulture for perching over a carcass?” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“It is the storyteller who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that the survivors must have – otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens – whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“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

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

“Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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

“There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“There is that great proverb – that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. – W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“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

“She pouted her lips like a gun in my face.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“Travellers with closed minds can tell us little except about themselves.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don’t just turn it off one day.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth.” ~ Chinua Achebe

“The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.” ~ Chinua Achebe

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