Powerful Chinua Achebe Quotes That Will always Be Remembered

I’ve compiled some of the most powerful Chinua Achebe Quotes.

Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930, and died on March 21, 2013. He was a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic regarded as the most influential figure in contemporary African literature. Things Fall Apart, his debut novel and magnum opus, holds a vital place in African literature and is still the most widely studied, translated, and read African novel. 

His No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God, together with Things Fall Apart, constitute the so-called “African Trilogy”; subsequent works include A Man of the People  and Anthills of the Savannah. He is known as the “Father of African Literature.”

Chinua Achebe’s legacy is celebrated annually at the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival.

34 Chinua Achebe Quotes

  1. “Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology.”

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

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

4. “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.”

5. “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.”

6. “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.”

7. “There is no story that is not true.”

8. “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.”

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

Chinua Achebe quotes

10. “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.”

11. “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.”

12. “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.”

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

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

15. “A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk.”

16. “My weapon is literature.”

17. “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.”

18. “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.”

19. “The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”

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

21. “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.”

22. “People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.”

23. “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.”

24. “When a coward sees a man he can beat he becomes hungry for a fight.”

25. “That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant.”

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

27. “In my definition I am a protest writer, with restraint.”

28. “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.”

29. “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.”

 30. “I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself.”

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

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

33. A man who lived on the banks of the Niger should not wash his hands with spittle.”

34. “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.”

My favorite Chinua Achebe Quotes are, “Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology.” and “I have learned that a man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself.”

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