Nigeria’s foremost literary icon, Chinua Achebe would have been 90 today if he were alive.
Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read book in modern African literature
A titled Igbo chief himself, Achebe focuses his novels on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a large number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.
His first novel ‘Things Fall Apart’, published in 1958 and considered his best work, with a beset central character, Okonkwo, was a forerunner in modern postcolonial literature phase of African literature which sought to tell the African story with fully developed African characters.
His other novels are ‘No Longer At Ease’, ‘Arrow of God’, ‘A Man of the People’ and ‘Anthills of the Savannah’.
Chinua Achebe body of works include short stories like ‘Marriage Is A Private Affair (1952)’, ‘Dead Men’s Path (1953)’, ‘The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953)’; anthologies and the discourse-provoking “There Was A Country” which is an account of the Nigerian civil war from his point of view.
Achebe died in March 2013 at the age of 82. Considered to be the father of modern African literature, he was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2007.
In celebration of his 90th posthumous birthday, we at Listwand have decided to compile 13 of Achebe’s best quotes.
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.
“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.”
“The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.”
“Privilege, you see, is one of the great adversaries of the imagination; it spreads a thick layer of adipose tissue over our sensitivity.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.”
“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.”
“A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness”
“A disease that has never been seen before cannot be cured with every-day herbs.”
“You must develop the habit of skepticism, not swallow every piece of superstition you are told by witch-doctors and professors.”
“Stories are not always innocent;…they can be used to put you in the wrong crowd, in the party of the man who has come to dispossess you.”