In honor of the late, great Chinua Achebe’s birthday today, we are paying homage to his legacy. You may be familiar with his most famous work, Things Fall Apart, as it may have been your first introduction to literature from the continent. Achebe, a Naija born and raised, also wrote a number of essays, poems, and critiques that are as relevant today as they were when originally published.
So without further ado, Here are a few of our favorite Achebe quotes:
“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.”
“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”
“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.” (The Education of the British-Protected Child)
“There is no story that is not true.” (Things Fall Apart)
“My weapon is literature.”
“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.” (There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra)
“I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past – with all its imperfections – was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them” (Morning Yet on Creation Day)
Tell us your favorite Achebe quote . . .