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Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013)


Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic.
Chinua Achebe
Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life.
Achebe quotes
The land of the living was not far removed from the domain of the ancestors. There was coming and going between them, especially at festivals and also when an old man died, because an old man was very close to the ancestors. A man's life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.
Achebe
A man who lived on the banks of the Niger should not wash his hands with spittle.




Achebe Chinua quotes
Okonkwo was popularly called the "Roaring Flame." As he looked into the log fire he recalled the name. He was a flaming fire. How then could he have begotten a son like Nwoye, degenerate and effeminate? [...]
He sighed heavily, and as if in sympathy the smoldering log also sighed. And immediately Okonkwo's eyes were opened and he saw the whole matter clearly. Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. He sighed again, deeply.
Achebe Chinua
For an African writing in English is not without its serious setbacks. He often finds himself describing situations or modes of thought which have no direct equivalent in the English way of life. Caught in that situation he can do one of two things. He can try and contain what he wants to say within the limits of conventional English or he can try to push back those limits to accommodate his ideas ... I submit that those who can do the work of extending the frontiers of English so as to accommodate African thought-patterns must do it through their mastery of English and not out of innocence.
Chinua Achebe quotes
No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man.
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.
Achebe Chinua quotes
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 as cutting a hanged man from the 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. [...] One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate.
Achebe
The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place.
Achebe Chinua
And when, as on that day, nine of the greatest masked spirits in the clan came out together it was a terrifying spectacle.
Okonkwo's wives, and perhaps other women as well, might have noticed that the second egwugwu had the springy walk of Okonkwo. And they might also have noticed that Okonkwo was not among the titled men and elders who sat behind the row of egwugwu. But if they thought these things they kept them to themselves. The egwugwu with the springy walk was one of the dead fathers of the clan.
Chinua Achebe
If one finger brings oil it soils the others.




Chinua Achebe quotes
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
But he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error. And so people said he had no respect for the gods of the clan. His enemies said that his good fortune had gone to his head.
Achebe quotes
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.
Achebe Chinua
It was like beginning life anew without the vigor and enthusiasm of youth, like learning to become left-handed in old age.
Achebe Chinua quotes
The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.
Chinua Achebe
Real tragedy is never resolved. It goes on hopelessly forever. Conventional tragedy is too easy. The hero dies and we feel a purging of the emotions. A real tragedy takes place in a corner, in an untidy spot, to quote W. H. Auden.
Chinua Achebe quotes
As a man danced so the drums were beaten for him.
Chinua Achebe
A proud heart can survive general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.
Achebe Chinua
"You sound as if you question the authority and the decision of the Oracle, who said he should die."
"I do not. Why should I? But the Oracle did not ask me to carry out its decision." [...]
"The Earth cannot punish me for obeying her mesenger," Okonkwo said. "A child's fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm."


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