Chinua Achebe quotes

  • There is no story that is not true.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Stories

  • 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

    #Mother #Home #Men

  • 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

    #Hunters #Lions #Historian

  • 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

    #Who I Am #Thought Provoking #Needs

  • 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

    #Moving #Giving #Black History

  • Nobody can teach me who I am.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Who I Am #Teach

  • 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

    #Humanity #Mud #Practicals

  • The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Shining #Sun

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

    #Integrity #Stupid #Reality

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

    #Art #Reality #Men

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

    #Art #Oil #Conversation

  • People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Writing #People #Stories

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

    #Tree #Lizards #Praise

  • 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

    #Party #Champion #Church

  • 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

    #Imagination #Tissues #Layers

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

    #Thinking #Allies #Moral

  • It is only the story...that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence.The story is our escort;without it,we are blind.Does the blind man own his escort?No,neither do we the story;rather,it is the story that owns us.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Men #Doe #Cactus

  • A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. 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.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Home #Moon #Men

  • 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

    #Long #People #Justice

  • 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

    #Rising Up #People #Water

  • Africa is people" may seem too simple and too obvious to some of us. But I have found in the course of my travels through the world that the most simple things can still givwe us a lot of trouble, even the brightest among us: this is particularly so in matters concerning Africa.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Simple #People #World

  • 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

    #Real #Lying #Compassion

  • A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Running #Doe #Toads

  • An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Dry #Bones #Old Woman

  • It is the story that owns and directs us. It is the thing that makes us different from cattle; it is the mark on the face that sets one people apart from their neighbors.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #People #Different #Stories

  • We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Humanity

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

    #Tasks #Generations #Embrace

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

    #Understanding #Stories #Sides

  • The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Responsibility #Air #Land

  • 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

    #Men #Thinking #Thought Provoking

  • 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

    #Men #Thought Provoking #Brave

  • Nigeria is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Leader #Should #Nigeria

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

    #Men

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

    #Dancing #World #Want

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

    #Artist #People #Understanding

  • When a coward sees a man he can beat he becomes hungry for a fight.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Fighting #Men #Coward

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

    #Doctors #Pieces #Superstitions

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

    #People #Awful #Boring

  • 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

    #People #Failing

  • 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

    #Character #Worry #Plot

  • 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

    #Ideas #Diversity #Problem

  • What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens - whether people are of a different ethnicity or gender.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Country #Ethnicity #People

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

    #Leadership #Healthy #Democracy

  • The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Thought Provoking

  • 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

    #Stories #Facts #Christianity

  • Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don't expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Important #World #Rooms

  • I tell my students, it's not difficult to identify with somebody like yourself, somebody next door who looks like you. What's more difficult is to identify with someone you don't see, who's very far away, who's a different color, who eats a different kind of food. When you begin to do that then literature is really performing its wonders.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Doors #Color #Different

  • 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

    #People #Mouths #Aging

  • 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

    #People #Stories #Might

  • When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don't just turn it off one day.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #One Day #Goes On #Tradition

  • 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

    #Government #Uprising #Problem

  • If you don't like someone's story, write your own.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Writing #Thought Provoking #Stories

  • The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the slave trade and slavery.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Light #Years #Needs

  • 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

    #Kings #Children #Hands

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

    #Inspirational #Life #Moon

  • A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Greatness #Men #Pay

  • 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

    #Men #Land #Battle

  • You cannot plant greatness as you plant yams or maize. 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 the greatness in men.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Greatness #Men #Yams

  • 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

    #Memories #Survivor #Storyteller

  • 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

    #People #Stories #World

  • 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

    #People #Looks #Juicy

  • I think back to the old people I knew when I was growing up, and they always seemed larger than life.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Growing Up #Thinking #People

  • Democracy is not something you put away for ten years, and then in the 11th year you wake up and start practicing again. We have to begin to learn to rule ourselves again.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Years #Democracy #Wake Up

  • Unoka went into an inner room and soon returned with a small wooden disc containing a kola nut, some alligator pepper and a lump of white chalk. "I have kola," he announced when he sat down, and passed the disc over to his guest. "Thank you. He who brings kola brings life. But I think you ought to break it," replied Okoye passing back the disc. "No, it is for you, I think," and they argued like this for a few moments before Unoka accepted the honor of breaking the kola. Okoye, meanwhile, took the lump of chalk, drew some lines on the floor, and then painted his big toe.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Thinking #White #Nuts

  • 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

    #Writing #Stories #Write Your Own

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

    #Reality #Years #Thought Provoking

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

    #Men #Trouble

  • Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Charity #Philanthropy #Opium

  • My weapon is literature
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Literature #Weapons

  • 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

    #Doors #Thought Provoking #Worry

  • 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

    #Brother #Clever #Fall

  • 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. To make humanity uncomfortable, yes. But intrinsically to be against humanity, that I don’t take.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Art #Humanity #Purpose

  • 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

    #Children #Eye #Justice

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

    #Despair

  • 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

    #Strong #Powerful #Men

  • 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

    #Peculiar #Use #World

  • When a mad man walks naked, it is his kinsmen who feel shame, not himself.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Men #Mad #Naked

  • A goat does not eat into a hen's stomach no matter how friendly the two may be.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Two #Friendly #Matter

  • A man of worth never gets up to unsay what he said yesterday.
    -- Chinua Achebe

    #Men #Yesterday #Said

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

    #Disease #Herbs